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Lesson Plan

Teacher: Carolyn Dunn

Level: ALP 3

Goal: To read about and understand shifting views on “marriage” in the U.S.; to think
critically about those views by connecting them to each other and to personal experience
and culture; to practice using comparative adjectives and equatives and new vocabulary by
fluently discussing the current state of marriage in the US and at home

Objectives (SWBAT):
Students Will Be Able To…
1. Derive the meaning of six adjectives from context
2. Correctly form comparative adjectives and equatives and deepen their understanding of
new vocabulary by peer to peer quizzing with flashcards
3. Identify main ideas in several challenging authentic articles about the current state of
marriage by skimming the articles and discussing with a partner
4. Synthesize the information in five articles by reporting main ideas and discussing in a
small group
5. Synthesize the information in the articles, think critically about the subject matter and
correctly use the new adjectives, comparatives and equatives (the target language – “TL”)
in speaking by discussing several opinion questions about marriage
6. Correctly use the TL in writing and summarize their ideas by writing 6 sentences on
7. Correctly use the TL in speaking by presenting their posters to the class
8. Think critically about the subject matter by asking content questions about their peers’
summary posters
9. Deepen their knowledge of the TL by asking language questions about their peers’
posters and helping each other fix mistakes

Theme: Marriage; Focus on Speaking; Language Focus: 6 new adjectives and comparative

Aim/Skill/Microskill Activity/Procedure/Stage Time

Preview Announcements/Attendance/Admin 5 min maximum

T presents “Goals and Agendas” from website Start: 11:10

End: 11:15

Activity 1: Schema 1.1 Pre-Stage 15 minutes

Activation and T writes the word “marriage” on the board. T elicits
Warm-Up words from the class that are connected to marriage. T Start: 11:15
draws a mind map on the board. End: 11:30

Ss pair discuss: “What makes a good marriage?”

Brief class share

1.2 During Stage

Students watch a 2 minute excerpt of a TedTalk on

Ss view first 2 minutes of this talk:
don_t_know_about_marriage - t-31116

1.3 Post Stage

Ss pair discuss:

What does the speaker think about marriage?

Why does the audience laugh?

Half of marriages in the US end in divorce. Why do

you think that happens? Do our expectations for
marriage reflect reality? Are the expectations

If time: Do you agree or disagree with the following


- In most marriages, only one person can get what

he or she wants.
- To have a happy marriage, a couple must be good
- You should choose your spouse carefully before
marriage, but after marriage you should accept
his/her mistakes

Tangible Outcome & Teacher / Peer Feedback

Mind-map on board; peer to peer work

Activity # 2: 2.1 Pre-Stage 15 minutes

Introducing New T displays 6 sample sentences on the overhead with the
Adjectives target adjectives highlighted. T has students read the Start: 11:30
sentences out loud. End: 11:45

Each pair has a set of vocabulary cards. Pairs work

together to place the adjectives into “positive”,
“negative” and “neutral” categories. Brief class share.

2.2 During Stage

Ss complete a brief worksheet, using the new
vocabulary to complete sentences and write definitions
of the new words.

2.3 Post Stage

Ss pair check answers and T displays answers on the
overhead and goes over questions.

Tangible Outcome & Teacher / Peer Feedback

Vocab cards in categories; completed worksheets; peer
to peer work

Activity # 2: 1.1 Pre-Stage 10 minutes

Comparative/ T calls Ss attention to the sample sentences on the
Equative Review and overhead. T elicits: Start: 11:45
Controlled Practice End: 11:55
using the Grammar How many things are being compared?
with New Vocabulary Are the things equal or not equal?
How do we form the comparative adjectives? Does it
matter how may syllables the adjective has?
How do we form the equative?

1.2 During Stage

T displays the vocabulary and the form of the
comparative and equative on the overhead and hands
out flashcards (see attached). Ss mingle and quiz each
other on the grammar. Vocabulary is also tested,
because Ss must understand the words to choose the
correct form of the comparative or equative. T
monitors and assists, correcting errors.

1.3 Post Stage

T goes over common errors and questions.

Tangible Outcome & Teacher / Peer Feedback

Errors on overhead; T monitors and assists; pair work

Activity #3 –Modern 2.1 Pre-Stage Approx. 20

Marriage Reading T pairs students and hands out one pre-reading minutes total
Jigsaw discussion question to each pair. Each pair has a
different discussion question, to focus their attention on 5 mins
the main ideas of the article that they will be skimming

2.2 During Stage

T pairs students. Each pair has an article about modern
marriage (5 articles total). The articles include the
target vocabulary and grammar, which is bolded. T
instructs students to SKIM the article, emphasizing that
they read for main ideas and do not have to understand
all of the words.
5-7 mins
Pairs skim for 5 minutes.

2.3 Post Stage

Pairs discuss the main ideas of their article for 5
minutes, and fill out a worksheet to paraphrase the
main ideas (see attached)

Tangible Outcome & Teacher / Peer Feedback

Completed main idea worksheets; T monitors and
assists; pair work together to peer teach
10 mins
Start: 11:55
End: 12:15

Activity #4 – Modern 2.1 Pre-Stage Approx. 45

Marriage Discussion T splits pairs and makes 2 groups of 5. Groups discuss minutes total
and Poster Making the main ideas of all of the articles for 10 minutes.
2.2 During Stage 1 Start: 12:15
T re-groups students into 2 groups of 3 and one of 4. End: 12:25

T ensures the target grammar and vocabulary is BREAK

displayed on the projector. 12:25-12:45

T models the discussion, using the vocabulary and

grammar. T emphasizes that Ss should practice with
the vocabulary and grammar. T points out that Ss
should use the grammar with other adjectives (not just
the six new adjectives) as well.

Groups discuss the questions about marriage on the

handout (see attached) for 10-15 minutes.

2.2 During Stage 2

Each group makes a poster with 6 sentences using the
TL to summarize their positions on the issues (15
minutes). T monitors and assists.

2.3 Post Stage

Each group presents their poster to the class. T models
to ensure students do not read, use complete sentences
and add extra information.

T instructs students to ask questions about the content

of the poster. T asks the class for each poster if the use
of the target grammar and vocabulary looks good.
(15 minutes)

Tangible Outcome & Teacher / Peer Feedback

Summary posters; T monitors and assists; peer to peer

Activity #5 First Listening Activity from Northstar Listening and Rest of class
-vocab cards and “positive” “negative” “neutral” category sheets
-vocab worksheet
-grammar and vocab flashcards
-Marriage pre-reading discussion questions
-Marriage articles
-Marriage post reading discussion questions
-Model poster on projector
-Easel Paper

Anticipated Problems and Suggested Solutions:

-The authentic (but modified) readings may be too difficult for Ss; pre-reading discussion
questions will focus Ss’ attention on main ideas and key points; T pairs students (lower Ss with
higher Ss) and emphasizes they are reading for main ideas; peer to peer work will support Ss’
skimming; “main idea”/”main point” worksheets will help focus on the main ideas; T will
monitor and assist to ensure Ss successfully identify main ideas
-the timing may be too ambitious considering the difficulty of the reading and discussion
questions – some of the activities could move to the next lesson
-Ss may have difficulty with the discussion questions – T will monitor and assist to help draw out
the discussion
-Ss may not use the target language in their discussion; T will monitor and elicit the language
from the groups; T will display the TL on the projector and point to it while monitoring to
encourage Ss to use it
-Ss may use the target grammar only with the target vocabulary; T will model using other
adjectives and emphasize this in the instructions
-If Ss are absent, the jigsaw will not have the correct number of Ss’ – depending on who/how
many Ss are absent, T will either have a strong student read one article alone or will eliminate an
article or articles and make groups of 3; T will print extra copies of the articles and will ensure
that the post-reading discussion questions do not specifically relate to any one article
successful collaborative practical

challenging satisfying flexible

Couples in __________________ relationships work together to solve their

problems, although they may not always succeed.

___________________ means:

Marriage can be ____________________, but being single can be as difficult as

being married.

___________________ means:

Living with a boyfriend or girlfriend before marriage is __________________ in

New York City because the couple can share expenses.

___________________ means:

People who think that marriage will fix all of their problems may not find
marriage _____________________.

___________________ means:

In a good marriage, spouses are __________________ and able to change with

new situations.

___________________ means:

Because the divorce rate is increasing, many people believe that marriages
today are less __________________ than they were in the past.

___________________ means:
Couples in collaborative relationships work together to solve their problems,
although they may not always succeed.

collaborative means: produced, accomplished or done by working together

Noun: collaboration
Verb: to collaborate

Marriage can be challenging, but being single can be as difficult as being


challenging means: difficult, often in an interesting or enjoyable way

Noun: challenge
Verb: to challenge

Living with a boyfriend or girlfriend before marriage is practical in New York

City because the couple can share expenses.

practical means: relating to real situations and actions, not to ideas

Noun: practicality

People who think that marriage will fix all of their problems may not find
marriage satisfying.

satisfying means: fulfilling a need or want, and the pleasure connected to

that fulfillment
Noun: satisfaction
Verb: to satisfy

In a good marriage, spouses are flexible and able to change with new

flexible means: able to change easily in a new situation

Noun: flexibility
Adverb: flexibly

Because the divorce rate is increasing, many people believe that marriages
today are less successful than they were in the past.

successful means: achieving or meeting a goal

Noun: success
Verb: to succeed
Adverb: successfully
Because parents, friends and church members are included in the
process, arranged marriages are more collaborative than marriages
created by the couple alone.

Cohabitation – living together before marriage - can be as satisfying

as marriage, because it includes many of the same benefits.

Our great-grandparents, grandparents and parents married for life, but

most marriages today end in divorce. Why are marriages today less
successful than/not as successful as marriages in the past?

Today’s marriages need to be more flexible to fulfill changing

individual needs.

Prenuptial agreements are legal contracts made before marriage that

say what will happen to the couple’s money, house and children if they
divorce. Even though these agreements are not romantic, using a
prenup is more practical than thinking love will last a lifetime.

It is difficult to meet today’s high expectations for marriage, so

creating a satisfying partnership is more challenging than it was in
the past.

The higher divorce rate shows that marriages today are not as strong
they were in the past.

Some people think that marriages based on friendship are equal to and
as happy as marriages based on love.

Some people think married people are not as lonely as single people,
but I disagree. Single people often have more friends than married
A candlelit dinner in the West Village is a more romantic date than a
football game.
Because parents, friends and church members are included in the
process, arranged marriages are ______________________ marriages
created by the couple alone. (collaborative)

Cohabitation – living together before marriage - can be

______________________ marriage, because it includes many of the same
benefits. (satisfying)

Our great-grandparents, grandparents and parents married for life, but

most marriages today end in divorce. Why are marriages today
______________________ as marriages in the past? (successful)

Today’s marriages need to be ______________________ to fulfill changing

individual needs. (flexible)

Prenuptial agreements are legal contracts made before marriage that

say what will happen to the couple’s money, house and children if they
divorce. Even though these agreements are not romantic, using a
prenup is ______________________ than thinking love will last a lifetime.

It is difficult to meet today’s high expectations for marriage, so

creating a satisfying partnership is ______________________ it was in the
past. (challenging)

The higher divorce rate shows that marriages today are

______________________ they were in the past. (strong)

Some people think that marriages based on friendship are equal to and
______________________ marriages based on love. (happy)

Some people think married people are ______________________ single

people, but I disagree. Single people often have more friends than
married people. (lonely)

A candlelit dinner in the West Village is a ______________________ date

than a football game. (romantic)
Pre-Reading Discussion Questions

Agree or Disagree:
When choosing a spouse, it is better to get help from parents,
relatives and other trusted friends than to follow your own individual

Is living together without marriage an acceptable choice in your

family? Why or why not? In your home country, is living together
without marriage as common as it is in the United States?

Agree or Disagree:
Personal relationships are not as strong as they were in the past
because of social media and dating apps (Facebook, Instagram,

It is important to discuss expectations for a marriage before marrying.

Is it smarter to put these expectations in a contract before marriage?

The divorce rate in the United States is increasing. Why is marriage

more challenging now than it was in the past?
Are Arranged Marriages More Sucessful?1

Quinn, 23, a quiet engineering student from Springfield, Mo., wanted to

settle down, and asked his parents to find him a wife. Through church
friends, they found Thompson, an apple-cheeked 17-year-old from
Manhattan, Kan. Because parents, friends and church members are
included in the process, arranged marriages are more collaborative
than marriages created by the couple alone.

"We spent one day together, and then his dad said, 'Yes or no? We're
leaving tonight with an answer,'" Thompson recalled with a giggle.

Fifteen months later, Thompson wore a wedding dress and Quinn wore
a dark suit as they sat in a hotel ballroom in New York around a table
with white flowers, waiting with 42 other couples for the Rev. Moon to
marry them via a satellite video beamed from Korea.

Thompson's high-school friends think she's crazy, she said. But in the
Unification Church, arranged marriages – parents choosing the bride
and groom - are normal. Moon teaches that romantic love leads to
divorce. He says that arranged marriages created by parents are
more successful than marriages based on love.

Arranged marriages — or lessons imparted by them —help lower the

American divorce rate, according to research recently highlighted by
the Unification Church. More than 70% of arranged-marriage couples
are still together, says the church.

Arranged marriages may seem strange and old-fashioned to modern

Americans. The hook-up, fall-head-over-heels in love route to marriage
isn't working, the church argues, if nearly half of American marriages
end in divorce. Even though love marriages are more romantic than
arranged marriages, they generally are not as long as arranged

In countries such as India and Pakistan, marriages are often made by

families or professional matchmakers for religious and cultural reasons.
In many of these marriages, expectations start low, love grows slowly
and extended families lend support.

"Love" marriages often start hot but quickly cool off, leading to
unhappy families and unhappy hearts, said Epstein, the former editor-
in-chief of Psychology Today. He believes that American couples can
learn from Unificationist marriage practices.

"Whatever anyone wants to say about the Unification Church, the

marriage idea is not crazy," said Epstein. "It really seems to work."
Love grows in arranged marriages and they are as satisfying as love
marriages. Because they are less likely to end in divorce, supporters
of arranged marriages also say they are more practical.

But Stephanie Coontz, director of research and public education for the
Council on Contemporary Families, says Epstein draws big conclusions
from small studies.

"Many arranged marriages in many countries are associated with no

choice for young people and are particularly bad for women," she said.
These arrangements are less flexible than modern marriages, and so
do not provide the couple with options.

"The fact that arranged marriages are less likely than love marriages
to end in divorce is not a measure of success because we know that
people are sometimes held in them without any options," said Coontz,
author of Marriage, A History: How Love Conquered Marriage.

Moon, now 93, rarely matches couples anymore, leaving it to parents

and his church's "certified matching advisors." Ji-il Tark, a religion
scholar at Busan Presbyterian University in Korea who has studied the
Unification Church, said Moon's concern for happy families is strange
since his family is unhappy. Some of his children have left the church,
abused drugs and fought for control of the family's business empire.

"They ask people to practice something that they do not practice

themselves," Tark said.
But church studies suggest that many Unificationists do practice what
Moon says. A 1998 study found that 83% of the 2,075 couples matched
by Moon in 1982 for the Madison Square Garden ceremony remained
together, according to the Rev. Phillip Schanker, director of the
church's Blessed Family Ministry. Schanker estimates that 70% are still
married today.

When you agree to marry a stranger for world peace, it's less likely
that you'll divorce, cheat on, or abuse your spouse, said Jeanne Carroll
of Dover, N.J., who was among the couples married at the 1982
ceremony. Carroll met her husband, Jerome, six days before they wed.
Nearly 30 years later, the Carrolls returned to New York with a table full
of relatives to see their daughter, Jaime, whom Jeanne matched
through the church, be blessed by Moon.

Carroll said it wasn't hard to keep her daughter from dating, which
Unificationists do not allow. Jaime, 23, saw her friends chase boys and
end up broken-hearted or pregnant. Jaime thinks dating is more
challenging than an arranged marriage. "We're lucky, in a way, that
our society is so bad," Carroll said. "It makes arranged marriages look
really good."
Unmarried Couples Living Together is the New Normal2

Three of four women in the U.S. have lived with a partner without
being married by the age of 30, an increasing trend that suggests
cohabitation is now a regular part of family life in the U.S., researchers

The survey of 12,279 women ages 15 through 44 also found that 40

percent of unmarried partners got married within 3 years, according to
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. A third of the
couples stayed together without marriage, while 27 percent broke up.

More people are waiting for marriage because it is too expensive, said
Gail Wyatt, the director of the University of California Los Angeles’s
sexual health program. About 48 percent of the women surveyed lived
with a partner as a first union, compared with 34 percent in 1995.
Others may view cohabitation as a way of trying out a relationship to
see if a marriage will work. Cohabitation can be as challenging as
marriage, and so it can be a good first step.

“Marriage is for people who have money and want to spend money just
on the wedding itself,” Wyatt said in a telephone interview. “Some
people would rather buy a house, or just pay the rent.” People who are
poor or less educated may avoid marriage and its legal problems, she
said. For many, cohabitation is easier and more practical than
planning a wedding and going through the legal processes. The
arrangement can also be as satisfying as marriage, because it
includes many of the same benefits.

Adapted from:
A couple that shares an address is as a “first union,” as does a first
marriage, according to the report. Only 23 percent of first unions were
marriages in the study period, compared to 39 percent in 1995.

“Cohabitation is a common part of family formation in the United

States, and serves both as a step toward marriage and as an
alternative to marriage,” the report said. Cohabitation is more
collaborative than dating, because couples need to work together to
solve daily household problems.

Education Factors

The Atlanta-based CDC’s report used interviews starting in 2006 and

ending in 2010. About 70 percent of women without high school
diplomas lived with a partner as their first union, compared to 47
percent of those with a bachelor’s degree, the report found. Women
with less than a high school diploma were less likely to marry within 3
years, compared to peers with more education.

Pregnancy is common among couples who live together, but are not
married. About 20 percent of women became pregnant in the first year
of living with a partner, and went on to give birth.

Women without a high school diploma were more likely to become

pregnant, with a third of them reporting pregnancy in the first year of
living together with a partner. Only 5 percent of women with a
bachelor’s degree became pregnant in the same time span. Those
women who got pregnant were less likely to be married.

Having Children
“People, especially women, make a distinction between childbearing
and marriage,” said Carole Joffe, a professor of sociology at the
University of San Francisco’s Bixby Center for Global Reproductive
Health, in a telephone interview. “You can get the benefits of marriage
without being married, but you have to have a child to have the
benefits of a child.”

The study’s conclusion is that there are more types of couples than
married and unmarried, Joffe said. Some people are truly single, others
are cohabitating, and some are married. The question is how best to
support these different kinds of families, she said. Society needs to
take a more flexible approach to help a broader range of family

The percentage of first unions that were cohabitations rather than

marriages increased 57 percent for Hispanic women, 43 percent for
white women, and 39 percent for black women in 2006 through 2010,
compared to a similar survey from 1995. Only Asian women weren’t
more likely to cohabitate before marriage.

“We have to prepare girls not to look for white dresses as the end-all,
but to look at their financial opportunities and their careers,” said
Wyatt. “The same is true for boys.”
Marriage in the Age of Facebook3

Marriages today don’t work.

The million-dollar question? Why not?

It's a simple idea — fall in love and share your life together. Our great
grandparents did it, our grandparents did it, and for many of us, our
parents did it as well.

Why is marriage more challenging for us? Why are we less

successful than our parents and grandparents?

I've been divorced myself. But I'm only one of the many people today
that have failed at marriage. And while some of us have gone through
a divorce, others stay in their relationships, unhappily, and live
completely fake lives.

I've spent the last three years trying to understand the dating scene
again. Back when I met my ex-wife in 2004, things were so different.
Social media had yet to explode. I wanted to ask her about her day
simply because I didn't know.

Texting was just starting, so if I wanted to speak to her, I had to call

her. If I wanted to see her, I had to drive to her house and knock on
her door. Everything required an action on my part, or hers. Today,
things are different.

Let's face it, the last time you "spoke" to the person you love, you
didn't even hear their voice. You could be at work, the gym, maybe
with the kids at soccer. You may even be in the same room. You told
your wife you made dinner reservations ... through a text message.
Your husband had flowers delivered to your job ... through an app on
his phone. You both searched for furnishings for your new home ... on

While these technologies save time and so can be more practical

than the phone or face-to-face communication, there's no physical
connection with anything anymore. We have relationships with things,
not each other. Ninety-five percent of the personal conversations you
have every day occur through some type of technology. We've
removed human emotion from our relationships, and we've replaced it

Adapted from:
colorful bubbles. Texting and emailing are not as satisfying as real
personal connections.

Somehow, we've learned to get angry because of text on a screen,

thinking others are "angry" or "sad" when, in fact, we have no idea
what they are feeling. We argue about this a lot.

We've forgotten how to communicate yet expect healthy marriages.

How is it possible to grow and mature together if we barely speak? Our
relationships are less collaborative than they were in the past
because we are always immersed in our phones, rather than working
together to make a meaningful connection.

Years ago, my grandmother wouldn't hear from my grandfather all day;

he was working down at the piers in Brooklyn. But today, if someone
doesn't text you back within 30 minutes, they're suddenly cheating on
You want to know why your grandmother and grandfather just
celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary? Because they weren't
scrolling through Instagram worrying about what John ate for dinner.
They weren't on Facebook criticizing others. They weren't on vacation
sending Snapchats to their friends.


They were too busy loving and respecting one another. They were
talking to each other at dinner, walking with each other holding hands
instead of their phones. They weren't distracted by everything around
them. They had dreams and chased them together.

Social media just invited a few thousand people into bed with you.
Today there is no privacy. Nothing is private anymore. It's all over the
Web for the world to see.

Everywhere we go, everything we do — made public. Instead of

enjoying the moment, we get lost in the internet, trying to find the best
status update, or the perfect filter.

Vacations are no longer a time to relax, but more a time to post on

Facebook and Instagram. There's absolutely nothing wrong with
sharing moments of your life. I do it myself. But where do we draw the
line? When does it become too much?

We've invited strangers into our homes and brought them on dates
with us. We've shown them our wardrobe, drove with them in our cars,
and we even showed them our bathing suits. Might as well pack them
a suitcase, too.

The worst part about all this? It's only going to get worse.

My failed marriage is not why I’m expressing these emotions. It's what
I see around me every single day that inspired me to write this article.

Marriage is important. Divorced or not, I believe in true love and

building a beautiful life with someone. In fact, it's been my dream since
I was young.
I hope you never experience the end of your love. It's painful, and life
changing; something nobody should ever feel.

I do fear, however, that the world we live in today has made it difficult
to live a happy life with someone. Some things are in our control, and
unfortunately, others are not.

People can agree or disagree. You may say I need to be more flexible
and change with the times.

I'm perfectly OK with that.

A Couple’s Therapist Tells Us Why Modern Marriage is So Hard4

In a way, American marriage today seems great compared to the

traditional marriage model of the past.

Now, we do not get married because our dad told us to, because the
guy is rich, or because the girl comes from a “good” family. (Gross.)

Instead, most of us get married if and when we feel like it, to someone
we love and who loves us in return. (Awww.)

Except, in case you haven't heard, marriage today can feel impossibly
difficult — perhaps even more challenging than it was in the past.
The divorce rate is increasing, and modern marriages are less


In an interview with author Ramit Sethi, couples therapist Esther Perel

shared some ideas on why marriage is so darn hard.

Here's what she told Sethi:

"Marrying because you are deeply attracted to someone and have

fallen deeply in love with someone –these are new ideas.

"They come with romanticism; they have arrived in the west about 150
years ago. And never has love been the reason for marriage — and
certainly not passion.

Perel said that, in the traditional model of marriage, "we want

friendship, family life, and financial support."

But we still want these things now, even though the new, modern,
romantic model of marriage arrived. We simply added romantic
requirements to the more practical requirements of the past. We
want it all.

Here's Perel again:

"Now we want you to be my best friend and my trusted confidant and

my passionate lover to boot — and we live twice as long. That's the
model." Because expectations are so high, marriages today can feel
less satisfying than marriages in the past.

These increasing needs can have serious — and not always positive —
effects on our sex lives.

"We have moved from a model of sexual duty in this romantic

arrangement to sexual pleasure and sexual connection," Perel said.
Now, we have sex because we want to, and not because we feel we
have to.

"I do it because I feel like it and you feel like it and we feel like it at the
same time and hopefully for each other. There's a lot of conditions that
need to be met here."

In other words, when you expect your partner to fulfill all your needs as
a human being, there's more room for disappointment. That's
especially true in the bedroom.

Perel's comments are especially relevant in light of research by

psychologist Eli Finkel, who found that our expectations for American
marriage have changed a lot in the last two centuries or so.
Before1850, people got married for food production, shelter, and
protection from violence. Starting around the mid-19th century,
however, people started marrying for friendship and love. Since 1965,
people have seen marriage as optional, and have looked to their
spouse for personal fulfillment.

That means that good marriages, in which the partners do fulfill each
other's needs, are great. And marriages in which partners do not fulfill
all of their needs are highly dissatisfying.

The solution here isn't to go back to the old model of marriage, letting
our parents choose our spouses based on their financial standing.
Today’s marriages need to be more flexible to fulfill individual needs.
However, it's worth being aware that you're placing so many demands
on your partner — and that they might be equally demanding of you.

Maybe you’ll want to look outside your marriage for additional sources
of personal fulfillment — like friends and hobbies. Or maybe you and
your partner will have a conversation about how thankful you are for
what the other does give, and what each would like in the future.

Your marriage will never be perfect — but being aware of the broader
cultural forces behind your particular issues is perhaps the first step to
solving them.
Prenuptial Agreements5

It may not be the most romantic idea, but many couples planning to
marry use prenuptial agreements. In prenuptial agreements, or
“prenups”, couples decide before they get married how the money will
be divided if they get divorced. Prenuptial agreements may also
include agreements on children and other parts of the relationship. In a
survey of 1,600 members of the American Academy of Matrimonial
Lawyers, a professional group based in Chicago, published in October
2013, 63% of the respondents reported an increase in prenups over
the previous three years.

Prenups are important for divorces, of course, but that’s not all.
Besides saying how money is divided when a married couple splits up,
prenuptial agreements also can say who gets what when one partner

With that kind of power over people’s finances, these are controversial

Some people say prenuptial agreements protect both people and stop
nasty, expensive court battles when a relationship ends. Supporters of
prenups believe that they make divorces less challenging. But some
critics say the couple may be nasty while making the prenup, and this
can be bad for the marriage before it even starts. Critics also say and
that there are laws that do a better job in most cases of balancing the
interests of both partners when they split or one dies.

Yes to Prenups

Adapted from:
The reality is that many marriages end in divorce, and of those that
don’t, 100% end in death. In either case, there is money. While it is
unromantic to discuss and negotiate a prenuptial agreement between
the time of your engagement and the wedding, using a prenup is more
practical than thinking love will last a lifetime. An agreement can save
a lot of difficulties and money when it comes time to distribute that

To be sure, not everyone needs a prenuptial agreement. A young

couple with no money probably doesn’t need one. But for people who
marry with money, prenups are needed. You can decide for yourself
how much of your money your partner can share in if you divorce or
die. This is important if you have children from another marriage.
Without a prenup, your spouse may legally take more money than you
want to share.

Prenups can be difficult emotionally. But a difficult divorce is worse

than a prenup, especially with children.

Rather than weaken the marriage, as some critics say, a prenuptial

agreement can actually strengthen a marriage, because both spouses
fully understand where they stand financially. A prenup gives spouses
some protection from the unknown. That protection is more important
than being “romantic.”

Say No to Prenups

Let me be clear: Discussion about money before marriage is a good

thing. But if the goal of that discussion is a formal, signed prenuptial
agreement, the process has many problems and can cause significant
damage to a marriage.
Prenuptial agreements do have their uses. They can be important for
couples who marry later in life, especially when there are children from
a previous marriage. But in first marriages especially, they can set up
permanent problems between spouses and their families, and the
marriages are not as successful as marriages without prenups.

Many prenups are unnecessary and mean-spirited. These agreements

create marital selfishness, a negative for the couple and their
marriage. Often, particularly in first marriages, the poorer spouse is
giving away financial marriage rights without understanding marriage.
You have to be in a marriage for a long time before you really
understand what it means.

In the end, many prenups weaken the marriage by causing an

imbalance in the financial security of the two partners. One spouse
feels that his or her needs are not met, and so the marriage is less

During the prenuptial discussions, the richer partner may feel mean
and selfish. The poorer partner feels angry and mistreated - and for
good reason: the poorer spouse is the victim of an unfair deal.
Supporters of prenups say that these agreements are more
collaborative than they are in practice. The poorer spouse can only
avoid unfavorable financial terms in the agreement by stopping the

Why not allow problems to be decided by marriage laws? Those laws

provide fair and reasonable solutions to financial problems.

A prenup doesn’t help many newlyweds plan for the future by

providing certainty. How does a 25-year-old know what the future will
bring? Marriages need a more flexible approach.
Married couples protect each other by being fair and generous in all
ways, including financially. So for most couples, having a negotiation
about money isn't a good way to begin a relationship that should be
built on love, trust, mutual protection and generosity. You know that
proverb, “love is money”? It’s true. You can express love by caring for
someone financially.

Post Reading Discussion

1. Choose one of the articles that you read or discussed. Share your
opinion on the article with your group. What ideas do you think
would lead to more successful marriages?

2. Do you think married people live a more satisfying life than

single people? Or can choosing never to marry be as
satisfying? Give reasons for your opinion. In your culture, is it
acceptable for people to stay single for their whole lives? Why or
why not?

3. Why do you think it was important to the gay community to

legalize gay marriage when a civil union6 gave them many of the
same legal rights? Do we need a more flexible definition of
marriage to reflect our changing culture? How is gay marriage
treated in your home country?

4. How do you think marriage would change your current life? If you
are married, how did it change your life? Do you think daily life is
less challenging for married people than for single people?

5. In the past, the structure of marriage in the United States was

usually determined by societal rules. Now, our marriages are

A legally recognized arrangement that gives a couple many of the same rights as a
married couple
often more collaborative. Couples work together to decide what
they want from the marriage. How has marriage changed in your
own country? Have marriages become more collaborative
than they were in the past? If you could change marriage in your
country, what would you change? If you would not change it, why

6. Do you think marriages based on love are always less practical

than marriages based on other considerations, such as family,
money and common life goals? Or does a marriage based on love
work better?

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