Writing Can Be Murder

October 17, 2006

Marriage Minority

Filed under: Uncategorized — jenniferelbaum @ 9:13 am

Have you seen the news reports? Have you read the stories?

From a story in the New York Times by Sam Roberts:

“Married couples, whose numbers have been declining for decades as a proportion of American households, have finally slipped into a minority, according to an analysis of new census figures by The New York Times.”

 No big surprise there, right?

Not if you read. Because I’d be willing to bet that the romance novel community has been ahead of the curve on this one. I wish there was a comparable census that could tell us what percentage of romance novels no longer end with a marriage (or promise of marriage).

Do you think that American romance novels are an accurate barometer of American culture?



  1. Wow. First of all, I find it hard to believe that married couples are in the minority. That’s sad. I think it’s definitely possible that romance novels could be a reflection of today’s society. It’s today’s society of women who are writing them. However, they’re also fantasy and escapism for most women who read them. I don’t think there’s a way to prove this either way. Great discussion topic.

    Comment by Jennah — October 17, 2006 @ 9:31 am

  2. Wow, that’s a bit sad that marriage is in the minority. But I think that writers are very observant of what’s going on in the world and make up stories that fit what they see.

    Comment by Sara Thacker — October 17, 2006 @ 9:39 am

  3. Any story (with the exception of sci fi and fantasy set on made up worlds) is a reflection of the world around it.

    As for marriage being the minority, relax. The reason there are less people who are currently married at any one time is that people are getting married later, as a society, these days. It has a lot to do with opportunities. In the past, women didn’t have opportunities other than to get married. Now, women are having careers in much greater numbers and attending college in greater numbers than ever before. As we become a more educated society, we marry later, as other things come up that we “must do” before we get married. It doesn’t necessarily mean that less people are getting married…they’re just not getting married at 18-22 anymore.

    Comment by Amanda Brice — October 17, 2006 @ 9:56 am

  4. Depends on the genre of romance novel. I think the Harlequin Presents (which I was raised on) just set me up for a big hopeless fairtytale. The more recent books are definitely more just HEA required, but not necessarily marriage. Which I like. Which is reality.

    Comment by Shelli Stevens — October 17, 2006 @ 10:59 am

  5. I agree with Amanda. With marriage no longer being the only way to financial stability for a woman, there’s less of a rush. I’d be interested to know how the statistic was arrived at. I wonder, if gay marriage was legalized all over the US, would married couples climb back into the majority?

    Comment by Jennifer Colgan — October 17, 2006 @ 1:15 pm

  6. Great input ladies, thank you!

    Who knew that marriage statistics could prove to be of interest (or any statistics for that matter, lol)?

    I’m guessing that Jennifer is right regarding gay marriage (and if they counted domestic partners — the ones my grandmother would have said were “living in sin”).

    I’m just glad that all the paranormal creatures weren’t included in the census…then again…it’s almost Halloween……

    Comment by jenniferelbaum — October 17, 2006 @ 3:16 pm

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