+

How many times have you heard someone say this?

"Pfft. I'm never getting married. It's all a big scam. Did you know 50% of marriages end in divorce?"


Photo via iStock.

Did you believe that stat? It's OK if you did.

Hell, when "Bennifer" announced their divorce in the summer of 2015, even I was pretty sure there was no hope for the rest of us. (They just seemed so rock solid, you know?)

Like most statistics proudly spouted off by cynical happiness-bashers, there is some truth to that 50% divorce statistic. Or at least there was.

The divorce rate is hard to measure precisely, but the data we do have suggests that the oft-cited "50%" stat is no longer true and hasn't been for a long time. In fact, the data actually suggests that the divorce rate has been dropping significantly.

There are many reasons for it, including the fact that fewer people are getting married overall these days. But some of the other reasons for the decline in divorce are pretty inspiring for all the hopeless romantics like me who still long for the fairy tale weddings of our dreams.

These are three main reasons why the divorce rate is dropping: 1) feminism, 2) acceptance, and 3) love.

Also known as three parts of a balanced Upworthy breakfast. (Obviously, the omelette is feminism, the spinach salad is acceptance, and the butter is love.) Photo via iStock.

Feminism: The feminist revolution in the wake of WWII changed things for women, and for marriages.

Data shows that women initiate the majority of divorces, which means a change in divorce-rate is usually reflective of a change in the roles and expectations of women in society.

After the end of World War II, the divorce rate in America hit its highest spike. That's because things were changing for American women in a pretty significant way.

Photo by Bob Aylott/Keystone/Getty Images.

Women had entered the work force to fill roles left behind by the men fighting the war, and they wanted to stay there. They organized and spoke out against a society that treated them as second-class citizens.

The feminist movement of the 1950s and '60s started to crystalize a movement toward equal rights for women. Topics like reproductive rights, domestic violence, equal pay, sexual harassment, and maternity leave all started to enter the national dialogue (and, as we know, all of them were solved immediately and we aren't still having these conversations today, right?).

Photo by William West/AFP/Getty Images.

The role of women permanently shifted in this country as they fought against the idea that their existence was predicated on finding a man to support them. So, they started leaving their unfulfilling marriages behind.

Today, instead of finding someone to marry who can support them and make their dads happy, women are more likely to marry when and if they want to and to spend more time dating or building their own careers before settling down, leading to an increase in marriages of choice, rather than necessity.

Acceptance: Slowly but surely, society came to accept that families come in all different shapes and sizes.

When a sitcom about a divorced, interracially remarried patriarch trying to remain in the life of his daughter and gay son, who himself is raising an adopted Vietnamese daughter with his husband, decided to call itself "Modern Family," it did so for a reason.

In 2016, the American family looks very different from how it looked in 1950.

Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images.

The signs of this evolution are everywhere: single parents, interracial couples, same-sex marriages, marriages without kids, and couples that stay together happily without ever getting married at all. These concepts aren't seen as completely bonkers as they used to be.

Where marriages were once about dowries and land deals, or more recently about settling down and baby-making, the modern American family is now more about compatibility and choosing the partnership that's right for you.

"Lets never get married or have kids and just spend our lives visiting various seaports!" Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images.

"The fact that most people live together before marrying means that more ill-fated relationships end in breakups instead of divorce. And the growing acceptance of single-parent families has reduced the number of shotgun marriages, which were never the most stable of unions," Stephanie Coontz, a professor at Evergreen State College told The New York Times.

People today are more likely to get married when and if they want to, not because they think they have to. Turns out that leads to healthier, longer lasting marriages.

Love: All of this is to say that people really super love each other in 2016, in ways that previous generations didn't have the luxury of doing.

The biggest reason for the falling divorce rate is the fact that, today, marriages are more likely to be based on actual love and compatibility than ever before.

“We marry to find our soul mate, rather than a good homemaker or a good earner,” economist Justin Wolfers told the Times.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

If that sounds eyerollingly obvious to you, consider the fact that marrying for love is a pretty darn recent notion.

"For most of history it was inconceivable that people would choose their mates on the basis of something as fragile and irrational as love," writes author Stephanie Coontz in the first chapter of her book, "Marriage, A History."

Today, marrying for love is considered normal. The only other common reasons are for green cards and to finally have someone to start watching "The Wire" with (which is its own kind of love).

Next time someone tells you that half of marriages end in divorce, tell them they're wrong. And they're being a jerk.

Sure, not all marriages end happily ever after, but our society has opened the door for all kinds of stronger, healthier, happier families, and the falling divorce rate is proof of that.

Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images.

Whether you want to get married or not, you're part of a more equal, accepting, and loving society. That's pretty awesome.

via FIRST

FIRST students compete in a robotics challenge.

True

Societies all over the world face an ever-growing list of complex issues that require informed solutions. Whether it’s addressing infectious diseases, the effects of climate change, supply chain issues or resource scarcity, the world has an immediate need for problem-solvers with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills.

Here in the United States, we’re experiencing a shortage of much-needed STEM workers, and forward-thinking organizations are stepping up to tap into America’s youth to fill the void. As the leading youth-serving nonprofit advancing STEM education, FIRST is an important player in this arena, and its mission is to inspire young people aged 4 to 18 to become technology leaders and innovators capable of addressing the world’s pressing needs.

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Marlon Brando on "The Dick Cavett Show" in 1973.

Marlon Brando made one of the biggest Hollywood comebacks in 1972 after playing the iconic role of Vito Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather.” The venerable actor's career had been on a decline for years after a series of flops and increasingly unruly behavior on set.

Brando was a shoo-in for Best Actor at the 1973 Academy Awards, so the actor decided to use the opportunity to make an important point about Native American representation in Hollywood.

Instead of attending the ceremony, he sent Sacheen Littlefeather, a Yaqui and Apache actress and activist, dressed in traditional clothing, to talk about the injustices faced by Native Americans.

She explained that Brando "very regretfully cannot accept this generous award, the reasons for this being … the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry and on television in movie reruns, and also with recent happenings at Wounded Knee."

Keep ReadingShow less

Co-sleeping isn't for everyone.

The marital bed is a symbol of the intimacy shared between people who’ve decided to be together 'til death they do part. When couples sleep together it’s an expression of their closeness and how they care for one another when they are most vulnerable.

However, for some couples, the marital bed can be a warzone. Throughout the night couples can endure snoring, sleep apnea, the ongoing battle for sheets or circadian rhythms that never seem to sync. If one person likes to fall asleep with the TV on while the other reads a book, it can be impossible to come to an agreement on a good-night routine.

Last week on TODAY, host Carson Daly reminded viewers that he and his wife Siri, a TODAY Food contributor, had a sleep divorce while she was pregnant with their fourth child.

“I was served my sleep-divorce papers a few years ago,” he explained on TODAY. “It’s the best thing that ever happened to us. We both, admittedly, slept better apart.”

Keep ReadingShow less