A visit to the Netherlands convinced Katie Roiphe at Slate that the Dutch have a much healthier attitude toward marriage than Americans. She sums up the view from Amsterdam thusly: "Marriage is not for everyone; it is a personal choice, an option, a pleasant possibility, but not marrying is not a failure, a great blot on your achievements in life, a critical rite of passage you have missed." That doesn't mean that single Dutch women are necessarily forgoing kids; they're just not obsessed with living a cookie-cutter life. They're fine with "messy," or at least what Americans would consider messy.
Roiphe makes clear she's not arguing against marriage, just "against the socially engraved absolute of it." Isn't it time we stopped making people feel "inferior" about their life choices, stopped worrying about marriage and divorce rates? "We could instead focus on actual relationships, on intimacies, on substance over form; we could focus on love in its myriad, unpredictable varieties. We could see life here in the amber waves of grain not for what it should be, but for what it is." Click for Roiphe's full column. (Read more marriage stories.)