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And the ex-lover’s fiancée being so generous and open-minded as to suggest the shopping trip to begin with?What my mother could envision was a future in which I made my own choices.I don’t think either of us could have predicted what happens when you multiply that sense of agency by an entire generation.But what transpired next lay well beyond the powers of everybody’s imagination: as women have climbed ever higher, men have been falling behind.Marlo Thomas and Alan Alda’s retelling of “Atalanta,” the ancient Greek myth about a fleet-footed princess who longs to travel the world before finding her prince, became the theme song of my life.Once, in high school, driving home from a family vacation, my mother turned to my boyfriend and me cuddling in the backseat and said, “Isn’t it time you two started seeing other people?
He was (and remains) an exceptional person, intelligent, good-looking, loyal, kind. (A friend who suffered my company a lot that summer sent me a birthday text this past July: “A decade ago you and I were reuniting, and you were crying a lot.”) I missed Allan desperately—his calm, sure voice; the sweetly fastidious way he folded his shirts. A report on the unprecedented role reversal now under way—and its vast cultural consequences. It comes near to being a disgrace not to be married at all." Ten years later, I occasionally ask myself the same question.This unfettered future was the promise of my time and place.I spent many a golden afternoon at my small New England liberal-arts college debating with friends the merits of leg-shaving and whether or not we’d take our husband’s surname.We’ve arrived at the top of the staircase, finally ready to start our lives, only to discover a cavernous room at the tail end of a party, most of the men gone already, some having never shown up—and those who remain are leering by the cheese table, or are, you know, the ones you don’t want to go out with.
IStephanie Coontz, a social historian at Evergreen State College in Washington, noticed an uptick in questions from reporters and audiences asking if the institution of marriage was falling apart.
She didn’t think it was, and was struck by how everyone believed in some mythical Golden Age of Marriage and saw mounting divorce rates as evidence of the dissolution of this halcyon past.