University of Toronto Magazine University of Toronto Magazine

The Future of Marriage

Institution is being transformed and reinvented, according to Trinity's dean of women

Marriage isn’t dying despite what doomsayers claim, says Elizabeth Abbott, dean of women at U of T’s Trinity College. Rather, it is being transformed and reinvented.

“The institution of marriage is at the core of our culture and with so many recent changes happening, this makes for an interesting time to reconsider and study it,” says Abbott, who is writing a book called A History of Marriage, to be released in 2007. “Along with gay marriage, there are other issues affecting its traditional structure such as the number of women in the workforce who can now sustain themselves without a husband. It’s interesting to note that while divorce rates continue to climb, so do the stats on remarriage.”

Changes to the institution of marriage are not easy for a society to face because they involve changes in laws and national constitutions, says Abbott. And while some critics say gay marriage damages this traditional institution, she firmly disagrees. “It actually validates it, because what adherents are saying is that marriage is so important that they wish to become a part of it and commit themselves in the very same ways that heterosexuals do.”

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