Tying the knot

Rushworth M. Kidder's series ``Marriage in America'' [Nov. 25-Dec. 2] should be read by every couple contemplating tying the knot. Far too much emphasis is placed on the individual these days, and it has had a corrosive effect on the institution of marriage. The series showed, however, that the damage is far from irreversible.

The upbeat message in the final installment, ``Why marry,'' along with events such as the Worldwide Marriage Encounter national convention next July in Tampa, Fla. (with which we are associated), gives us, and many other couples, the inspiration to work on a daily basis to keep our marriage strong and to encourage others to do the same. Don & Laura Ruane North Fort Myers, Fla.

Kidder was especially insightful to note that the major changes in marriage in the past 30 years have had to be faced by women. The series also very gently pointed out that, while not the perfect institution, marriage is still worth working for. It is, after all, the basis of our society.

I would like to make one small correction. The Commandment ``Thou shalt not commit adultery'' is not the Sixth Commandment, as stated. Last time I checked, it was the Seventh. Consuela H. Allen Washington

Being newlyweds, we can assure you that the institution of marriage is very much alive and well. The series accurately put emphasis on the biggest reasons we think our marriage will be successful -- communication and commit- ment, which result in compromise.

However, one thing lacking in your series was a discussion of the last-name problem faced by women today: whether to keep their own names, change to their husbands' names, or make a hyphenated name. Our solution was for both of us to change our names.

This is a perfect opportunity to practice good communication and compromise! For couples choosing this, the biggest problem may be deciding what name to choose. We replaced our prior middle names with our old last name, so there is a genealogical continuity. Tom & Laura Grey Sunnyvale, Calif.

The series presented a completely researched answer to the question of what it is like to be married, and why people get married. Yet what is the viewpoint of cohabiting couples? There are plenty of cohabitors around. Why aren't they given equal time? Michelle Bamberger West Springfield, Mass.

[Mr. Kidder notes: There are many different types of households. While each type could be studied in depth, we wanted to keep this series focused on marriage itself rather than its alternatives.]

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