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Published 2006-11-14T00:00:00Z”/>

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Carolyn Filomeo

With divorce rates steadily increasing and gay marriage battles in the courts, it might be time for a new generation of spouses-to-be to start asking: Marriage, what’s up with that?

Some key factors in shaping what today’s 18-year-olds to 25-year-olds think about marriage are an acceptance of gay rights and watching so many marriages end in divorce.

“It seems nowadays more and more people are getting divorced,” student Niki Collins said. “We don’t take marriage as seriously as it should be.”

With divorce rates near 50 percent, a lot of people are fearful of divorce and find it hard to commit themselves to one another, said the Rev. Alfred Kaster of St. John’s Parish.

Chico State student Brenda Vega said divorce makes people doubt marriage more.

“They use it as an excuse to not get married,” she said.

Graduate student Darrell Wilson said if things don’t pan out in marriage, society views divorce as an easy way out.

“If anything, marriage has changed in that it doesn’t matter anymore,” Wilson said. “You can just get divorced.”

This contradicts what some hold to be the traditional sense of marriage.

Student Beki Benson is planning to get married this summer.

“I feel it is a lifelong commitment where you put your all into it for life,” she said.

The obsession of celebrity marriages and spontaneous Las Vegas weddings contribute to this generation’s inability to see marriage as a serious commitment, Benson said.

To help her get ready for the leap into marriage, she is reading the book “Lies at the Altar,” which talks about truths in marriage and how to work with your future partner through communication, Benson said.

“If you look at it like it’s a lifelong thing, you can prepare for all that’s going to come out of it, good and bad,” she said.

Benson’s traditional sense of marriage is reminiscent of a “goin’ to the chapel” era. But since the original Dixie Cups’ “Chapel of Love” recording in 1964, there have been many changes when it comes to who goes to the chapel.

Kaster thinks marriage was created for a man and a woman, for companionship, reproduction and relationships, she said.

While some students back this idea, there is a growing acceptance toward gay marriage. The topic made it to the ballots in nine states on the Nov. 7 elections.

“People are more accepting of gay marriages,” student Nicole Jacoby said. “If they’re happy, they should be with whomever.”

Jacoby weighed in on why this point of view has become more prevalent in society, noting that people’s lifestyles have a hand in opening up other people’s minds to acceptance.

“Parents get divorced, brothers and sisters come out of the closet, it opens us up to it,” she said.

The general consensus: The perception of marriage has changed from those of this generation’s grandparents, who married young, had lots of kids and now bicker endlessly after spending their lives together.

So where is marriage headed for younger generations?

“I think the traditional values of marriage will stay the same for our generation,” Vega said.

As far as how it will be shaped in the next couple of years seems to be left in the hands of the voters.

In the election last week, South Carolina, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Virginia, Idaho and Colorado passed bans on gay marriage, while elections in New Jersey, Vermont and Connecticut were stepping-stones for those who support legalizing civil unions.

Wilson said the gay marriage issue will become even more prevalent in the 2008 presidential elections.

“I think it’s going to change big time by the next election,” Wilson said.

Whether one is gay or straight, Kaster has some words of wisdom for anyone entering a marriage.

“It’s not like buying a car with a guarantee or warranty,” he said. “It’s dealing with two imperfect human beings.”

Carolyn Filomeo can be reached at

<a href= “mailto:[email protected]”>[email protected]</a>

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