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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.

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If we suddenly stopped being in thrall to the rigid, old-fashioned ideal of marriage, we could stop worrying about low marriage rates and high divorce rates.

We could stop worrying about single mothers and the decline of marriage as an institution, especially in the lower middle class, and the wasteful industry of wedding planning.

I was in Amsterdam for probably three hours when I began to see that having children and not being married was not a big deal there. I was there to talk about my book marrying is not a failure, a great blot on your achievements in life, a critical rite of passage you have missed.

Sometimes people get around to getting married, and sometimes they don’t.

A bit of tolerance, of bemusement, of compassion or imagination is built into the system.