TIME Opinion

The Beta Marriage: How Millennials Approach ‘I Do’

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Archive Holdings Inc.—Getty Images

We are a generation reared on technology and choice. Why wouldn’t we want to test a lifelong relationship first? How millennials are redefining "forever"

You could say I beta-tested my relationship.​

It began with a platform migration ​(a cross-country move) and a bandwidth challenge (cohabitation in a 450-sq.-ft. apartment). There was a false start (botched marriage proposal). Then, an emergency deglitching (couples therapy). We tried to take the product public before we were ready (I wrote about our relationship in Newsweek). And then, finally, we abandoned launch. There were simply too many bugs.

It’s a joke, kind of — except that when it comes to millennials and marriage, the beta test may be par for the course. And really, why wouldn’t it be? For a generation reared on technology, overwhelmed by choice, feedback and constant FOMO, isn’t testing a marriage, like we test a username, simply … well, logical?

The findings of a new survey certainly reveal so. In conjunction with a new television drama, Satisfaction, which premiered on USA Network last week, trend researchers asked 1,000 people about their attitudes toward marriage. They found all sorts of things: among them, that people cheat on the Internet (uh huh), that young people don’t think their relationships are like their parents’ (of course), and that everyone seems to have taken to the term uncoupling (yuck).

marriage

They also uncovered a surprising gem. Buried in the data was the revelation that almost half of millennials (43%, and higher among the youngest subset) said they would support a marriage model that involved a two-year trial — at which point the union could be either formalized or dissolved, no divorce or paperwork required. Thirty-three percent said they’d be open to trying what researchers dubbed the “real estate” approach — marriage licenses granted on a five-, seven-, 10- or 30-year ARM, after which the terms must be renegotiated. And 21% said they’d give the “presidential” method a try, whereby marriage vows last for four years but after eight you can elect to choose a new partner.

In total, nearly half of all of those surveyed, ages 18 to 49 — and 53% of millennials — thought marriage vows should be renewed, and nearly 40% said they believed the “till death do us part” vow should be abolished. In other words: Beta marriages! Unions you can test and deglitch, work out kinks or simply abandon course without consequence. “This is a generation that is used to this idea that everything is in beta, that life is a work in progress, so the idea of a beta marriage makes sense,” the study’s author, Melissa Lavigne-Delville, tells me. “It’s not that they’re entirely noncommittal, it’s just that they’re nimble and open to change.”

It’s not a new concept, entirely. In the 1970s, the anthropologist Margaret Mead predicted the growing popularity of “serial monogamy,” involving a string of monogamous marriages. Helen Fisher, the biological anthropologist, has advocated for much of the same: she believes humans aren’t meant to be together forever, but in short-term, monogamous relationships of three or four years. Stephanie Coontz, the author of Marriage: A History, has advised a marriage contract “reup” every five years — or before every major transition in life — “with a new set of vows that reflect what the couple has learned.”

More recently, Mexico City lawmakers proposed (unsuccessfully) a “renewable” marriage concept, whereby couples could simply renew or dissolve their unions after a period of two years. It’s not so unlike the setup described by a young writer in a Modern Love column in the New York Times last month, about how she overcomes “marriage anxiety” by renewing her vows with her husband every year like clockwork. “I think people are indeed trying to avoid failure,” says Andrew Cherlin, the author of The Marriage-Go-Round.

And, why wouldn’t they? The U.S. has the highest divorce rate in the Western world. The data show clearly that the longer we wait to get married the more successful our marriages will be. And it’s not like we can’t move in together in the meantime: the rate of unmarried cohabitation has risen 1,000% over the past four decades. Not all of our marriages will work, no — but when they do, they’ll work better than at any other time in history, say scholars. And when they don’t, why not simply avoid the hassle of a drawn-out divorce?

“Millennials aren’t scared of commitment — we’re just trying to do commitment more wisely,” says Cristen Conger, a 29-year-old unmarried but cohabitating podcast host in Atlanta. “We rigorously craft our social media and online dating profiles to maximize our chances of getting a first date, and ‘beta testing’ is just an extension of us trying to strategize for future romantic success.”

In an era where, according to the survey, 56% of women and men think a marriage can be successful even if it doesn’t last forever, that might just make sense. Scholars have observed for some time that attitudes toward divorce have become more favorable over the past decade. Millennials in particular are more likely to view divorce as a good solution to matrimonial strife, according to the sociologist Philip Cohen — and more likely to believe it should be easier to obtain.

And, of course, it’s easy to understand why. We’re cynical. We are a generation raised on a wedding industry that could fund a small nation, but marriages that end before the ink has dried. (As one 29-year-old survey respondent put it: “We don’t trust that institution.”) We are also less religious than any other generation, meaning we don’t enter (or stay) committed simply for God. We feel less bound to tradition as a whole (no bouquet tosses here).

And while we have among the highest standards when it comes to a partner — we want somebody who can be a best friend, a business partner, a soul mate — we are a generation that is overwhelmed by options, in everything from college and first jobs to who we should choose for a partner. “This is a generation who has not had to make as many long-term commitments as previous generations, so the idea of not having an out feels a little stringent,” says Lavigne-Delville. “Divorce has happened for a long time. Maybe we should rethink the rules.”

Indeed, at the end of the day, whatever you want to say about the hookup generation, or millennials’ inability to commit, the vast majority (69%, according to Pew) of millennials still want to get married. We simply need a little extra time to work out the kinks.

“Getting married is so much more weighted today, I get the impulse to want to test it,” says Hannah Seligson, the 31-year-old married author of A Little Bit Married, about 20-somethings and long-term unmarried relationships. At the same time, she adds, “I wonder if this is a false control study in a way. Yes, marriage terrifying, it’s probably the biggest leap of faith you’ll ever make. But you’ll never be able to peer into a crystal ball — or map it out on a spreadsheet.”

Bennett is a contributing columnist at TIME.com covering the intersection of gender, sexuality, business and pop culture. A former Newsweek senior writer and executive editor of Tumblr, she is also a contributing editor for Sheryl Sandberg’s women’s foundation, Lean In. You can follow her @jess7bennett.

TIME Marriage

Don’t Blame Facebook For Your Divorce

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cpaquin—Getty Images

Understanding the flaws in a new study that says time spent on Facebook is related to the divorce rate

A new study suggests that there is a relationship between increased Facebook use and divorce. But don’t delete your Facebook account yet: the researchers themselves admit that they have found a correlation between the two, not causation.

The researchers, who published the study in the July 2014 edition of Computers in Human Behavior, first looked at the rise of Facebook use and the rate of divorce in individual states. They found that a 20% increase in the number of Facebook users in a given state is associated with a 4% increase in the divorce rate the following year. However, the researchers could not identify who exactly was creating new Facebook accounts: it could have been young teens allowed to log on to the site for the first time or older people finally catching on to the trend. The people increasing their Facebook use were not necessarily the same people who were getting divorced.

The researchers also looked at survey information from individuals across the country aged 18 to 39. They found a weak relationship between marriage quality and social media use: those who spent more time on Facebook, Twitter and other sites were more likely to be unhappy with their marriage and thinking about ending it. However, an easy explanation for this correlation absolves Facebook: rather than social media sites causing people to be unhappy with their marriages, people who are unhappy (whether with their spouse or their life in general) could be turning to Facebook and other social media as an outlet. Individuals use Facebook to talk to friends, connect with old acquaintances and browse news and information—all of which can be used as a distraction from the less pleasant realities of life.

As the researchers conclude: “The study does not establish a cause-and-effect relationship because that would require longitudinal and/or experimental data.”

Sure, the Internet has made it easier to find mistresses and simpler to track a spouse’s cheating. But in the end, the individual has agency. Being exposed to exes, old friends or strangers online perhaps makes cheating more tempting, but it doesn’t encourage cheating. Similarly, a person may be inclined to monitor their partner’s activity, but that person can also choose to trust his or her significant other. In short, if a cheater is going to cheat, he doesn’t need Facebook (0r even the Internet) to accomplish that goal.

TIME Marriage

Are You ‘Monogamish’? A New Survey Says Lots of Couples Are

Guy D'Alema/USA Network

Having kids makes people want to stray and social networks help them

Perhaps because the premise of its new original drama series about a cheating married couple, Satisfaction, is not depressing enough for couples, the USA Network conducted a survey on cheating and marital satisfaction among Gen X and Y.

Some of the survey’s findings are not surprising. The arrival of children and the subsequent triangulation of the relationship and lack of bandwidth, time, money and energy makes a couple far more susceptible to the desire to stray. And the rise of the social networks make such straying much easier: easier to start, easier to arrange and easier to hide. (It may make it a little harder to end quietly though, especially if one of the parties feels aggrieved.)

Some other findings are a little more unexpected, however. For the vast majority of folks 18 to 49 years old, at least in Austin, Omaha, Nashville and Phoenix, where this study took place, cheating is an absolute dealbreaker. A full 94% of respondents would rather never marry than end up with a person they knew would cheat and 82% of them have “zero tolerance” for infidelity. Yet 81% of people admitted they’d cheat if they knew there wouldn’t be any consequences and 42% of the survey takers, in equal parts men and women, admitted to already having cheated.

If people must seek out some strange, the participants in USA’s survey suggest they really take it elsewhere; 81% believe it’s better to cheat with a stranger than a friend.

Why would it ever be O.K. to betray a spouse? More than half of the respondents (54%) believe cheating could be justified, particularly if the other party had already cheated first. Presumably, many of those were also in the group that already cheated.

The idea that monogamy “is a social expectation but not a biological reality,” as the survey put it, was true for more than half of all the Gen X and Y respondents. (The survey apparently didn’t ask if it was neither of those, but a learned skill, like, say, reading, gymnastics or coding.) But somewhat surprisingly, only one in five men preferred the idea of what could be called a “monogamish” relationship—where people are mostly faithful—over a monogamous one.

In other findings, the study—which, as an opt-in internet survey of only 1000 people has not been peer reviewed, lacks rigor and should not be used to make life decisions—also uncovered these nuggets:

*More than 40% of men 25 to 34 have discussed having a three way with their significant other. (No details, alas, on how these suggestions were received…)

*Almost three quarters of the GenX and Ys questioned think a few more hoops to jump through before people get married wouldn’t hurt, including living together for at least a year beforehand (35%), being required to finish high school (24%) and genetic testing if the couple wants kids (9%).

*Should that not prove to be enough, that’s O.K. More than half of the survey participants think a marriage that doesn’t have to last forever to be considered successful.

*And finally, in a sign that no celebrity behavior goes unnoticed, the Paltrow Martin style of split is getting some traction: a third of the survey takers say they’d rather “uncouple” than divorce.

MONEY Millennials

10 Things Millennials Won’t Spend Money On

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Valentine—Getty Images/Fuse

By 2017, millennials will have more buying power than any other generation. But so far, they're not spending like their parents did.

Millennials are often maligned for their lack of financial literacy, but there is one money skill the younger generation has in spades: saving. After growing up during the Great Recession, millennials want to keep every cent they can. (If you don’t believe us, just check out this Reddit Frugal thread inspired by our recent post on millennial retirement super-saving.)

This generation may be way ahead of where their parents were at the same age when it comes to preparing for retirement, but the frugality doesn’t end there. Kids these days also aren’t making the same buying decisions our parents made. Here are 10 things that a disproportionate number of today’s young adults won’t shell out for.

1. Pay TV
The average American still consumes 71% of his or her media on television, but for people age 14-24, it’s only 46%—with the lion’s share being consumed on phone, tablet, or PC. Many young people aren’t getting a TV at all. Nielsen found that most “Zero-TV” households tended toward the younger set, with adults under 35 making up 44% of all television teetotalers.

Millennials aren’t the only ones tuning out the tube. In 2013, Nielsen reported aggregate TV watching time shrank for the first time in four years.

2. Investments
By all accounts, young people should be investing in equities. Those just entering the work force have plenty of time before retirement to ride out market blips, and experts recommend younger investors place 75% to 90% of their portfolio in stocks or stock funds.

Unfortunately, after growing up in the Great Recession, millennials would rather put their money in a sock drawer than on Wall Street. When Wells Fargo surveyed roughly 1,500 adults between 22 and 32 years of age, 52% stated they were “not very” or “not at all” confident in the stock market as a place to invest for retirement.

Of those surveyed, only 32% said they had the majority of their savings in stocks or mutual funds. (Too be fair, an equal number admitted to having no clue what they were invested in, so hopefully their trust fund advisors are making good decisions.)

3. Mass-Market Beer
Bud. Coors. Miller. When parents want a drink, they reach for the classics. Maybe a Heineken for a little extra adventure. Millennials? Not so much. When Generation Now (thank god that moniker didn’t catch on) wants to get boozy, the data says we prefer indie brews.

According to one recent study, 43% of millennials say craft beer tastes better than mainstream beers, while only 32% of baby boomers said the same. And 50% of millennials have consumed craft brew, versus 35% of the overall population. Even Pete Coors, CEO of guess-which-brand, blames pesky kids for his beer’s declining sales.

4. Cars
Back when the Beach Boys wrote Little Deuce Coupe in 1963, there was a whole genre called “Car Songs.” Nowadays you’d be hard pressed to find someone under 35 who knows what a “competition clutch with the four on the floor” even means.

The sad fact is that American car culture is dying a slow death. Yahoo Finance reports the percentage of 16-to-24-year-olds with a driver’s license has plummeted since 1997 and is now below 70% for the first time since Little Deuce Coupe’s release. According to the Atlantic, “In 2010, adults between the ages of 21 and 34 bought just 27 percent of all new vehicles sold in America, down from the peak of 38 percent in 1985.”

5. Homes
It’s not that millennials don’t want to own homes—nine in ten young people do—it’s that they can’t afford them. Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies found that homeownership rate among adults younger than 35 fell by 12 percent between 2006 and 2011, and 2 million more were living with Mom and Dad.

It’s going to be a while before young people start purchasing homes again. The economic downturn set this generation’s finances back years, and reforms like the Dodd-Frank Act have made it even more difficult for the newly employed to get credit. Now that unemployment is decreasing, working millennials are still renting before they buy.

6. Bulk Warehouse Club Goods
This one initially sounds weird, but remember: millennials don’t own cars or homes. So a Costco membership doesn’t make much sense. It’s not easy to bring home a year’s supply of Nesquik and paper towels without a ride, and even if you take a bus, there’s no room to stash hoards of kitchen supplies in a studio apartment.

Responding to tepid millennial demand, the big box giant is trying to win over youngsters by partnering with Google to deliver certain items right to your home. However, even Costco doesn’t seem all that excited about its new strategy.

“Don’t expect us to go to everybody’s doorstep,” Richard Galanti, Costco’s chief financial officer, told Bloomberg Businessweek. “Delivering small quantities of stuff to homes is not free. Ultimately, somebody’s got to pay for it.”

7. Weddings
Getting hitched early in life used to be something of a rite of passage into adulthood. A full 65% of the Silent Generation married at age 18 to 32. Since then, though, Americans have been waiting longer and longer to tie the knot. Pew Research found 48% of boomers were married while in that age range, compared to 35% in Gen X. Millennials are bringing up the rear at just 26%.

Just like with homes, it’s not that today’s youth just hates wedding dresses—far from it. Sixty-nine percent of millennials told Pew they would like to marry, but many are waiting until they’re more financially stable before doing so.

8. Children
It’s hard to spend money on children if you don’t have any.

After weddings, you probably saw this one coming, but millennials’ procreation abstention isn’t only because they’re not married. Many just aren’t planning on having kids. In a 2012 study, fewer than half of millennials (42%) said they planned to have children. That’s down from 78% 20 years ago.

Stop me if you heard this one: it’s not that millennials don’t want children (or homes, or weddings, or ponies), it’s that this whole recession thing has really scared them off any big financial or life commitments. Most young people in the above study hoped to have kids one day, but didn’t think their economic stars would align to make it happen.

9. Health insurance
According the Kaiser Family Foundation, adults ages 18 to 34 made up 40% of the uninsured population in the pre-Obamacare world. Why don’t young people get health coverage? Because they’re probably not going to get sick. This demographic is so healthy that those in the health insurance game refer to them as “invincibles.”

Since the Affordable Care Act, more millennials are gradually buying insurance. Twenty-eight percent of Obamacare’s 8 million new enrollees were 18-34 year-olds. That’s well short of the 40% the Congressional Budget Office wanted in order to subsidize older Americans’ plans, but better than the paltry number of millennials who signed up before Zach Galifianakis got involved.

10. Anything you tell them to buy
When buying a product, older Americans tend to trust the advice of people they know. Sixty-six percent of boomers said the recommendations of friends and family members influences their purchasing decisions more than a stranger’s online review.

Most millennials, on the other hand, don’t want their parent’s or peer’s help. Fifty-one percent of young adults say they prefer product reviews from people they don’t know.

Related: 10 Things Americans Have Suddenly Stopped Buying

TIME

Like Gwyneth and Chris, My Husband and I Consciously Recoupled

Gwyneth Paltrow, left, and Chris Martin
Gwyneth Paltrow, left, and Chris Martin Colin Young-Wolff—Invision/AP

After I heard "I don't love you anymore," my marriage headed into a gray area—and it wasn't all bad

The concept of “conscious living” is a popular one—synonymous with “mindfulness,” we like to apply it to eating, building, working, whatever we are doing. Time even put it on the cover a few months ago. Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin brought the revolution to more tabloid headlines when they announced their “conscious uncoupling.” More recent reports, however, note that the uncoupled pair has been publicly love-birding, so it’s natural to wonder if a “recoupling” is in the offing.

“Coupling” brings me back to the railroad yards of my youth, where my father, a train–parts salesman, would explain how the cars come apart and together using something called a coupler. With only a modicum of bashing and bravado, the trains would line up and be on their way. And with that in mind, “uncoupling” seems a much better word to use for the end of a relationship than the fraught, shameful “divorce.” I know, because in the last seven years, I have uncoupled, recoupled, and uncoupled for good from the person I coupled with in 1988. The Great Northern railroad runs through my small Montana town and I went to the train yard a lot in the last seven years.

Back in 2008, I was met with the words, “I don’t love you anymore. I’m not sure I ever did.” And an encore in 2011: “It’s not that I don’t love you. It’s that I’m not in love with you anymore.” The first time, I believed that the relationship was salvageable. The second time, I knew the marriage had to end. My reaction both times: to choose not to suffer by focusing on what I could own and what I could control, and letting go of the rest. Sounds hard. It was. But I did it as consciously as possible and I am better for having lived that way, even though the marriage is over. My strategy was never about staying together.

I wrote my way through both crises, in an essay for the New York Times and in my memoir, This is Not the Story You Think It Is: A Season of Unlikely Happiness. Consequently, I heard from people all over the globe and I can tell you: they want to know that there is some freedom in not knowing what’s around the corner.

Because—usually—it’s not black and white. There’s so much at stake—families, children’s stability, loss of property, future dreams, self-identity, community orientation. They want to know that there is hope. That in the grey area they will they learn something profound about themselves, and even find themselves back in the relationship—only with new perspective and heightened respect. They want to believe in that poster we had on our college dorm-room wall: “If you love something set it free. If it returns, it’s yours. If it doesn’t, it never was.”

When I was consciously uncoupling for the first time I was new at employing this practice of non-suffering. I had small kids, which meant that I couldn’t journey for great lengths of time to the Kripalu-Omega-Esalan institutes of the world, or to the top of Everest, or to an ashram. I had to practice mindfulness right there at my kitchen sink. And it worked.

Gwyneth and Chris and I are living proof that we can step outside the story that society spins during times of relationship re-invention—we don’t have to fight and throw plates to be powerful. In the first uncoupling, and even in our mediation sessions, there were times when I reached out and held my was-band’s hand (I can barely use the word “ex”) because we were used to navigating troubled times together. Uncoupling, and recoupling, and uncoupling, if you do that again, doesn’t need to be like the movies or TV dramas, or the war stories you hear from friends. You can find grace in the grey.

In those years of vacillation, I learned to live in the moment, responsible for my own happiness. Perhaps in so-doing, we found our way back to each other for a time. And why our mediator congratulated us in our last session, with the ink still drying on the divorce decree. “Good job, you guys. When you’re ready, I think you two would be excellent candidates for a divorce ceremony. They really help people deliberately and intentionally close this chapter of their lives.”

We’re not ready for that yet. There’s still a lot of grief. But for now we are able to co-parent and communicate with respect, and the kids are thriving. Did we all suffer less because of our conscious variations on coupling? I’d like to think so.

Laura Munson is the best-selling author of This Is Not The Story You Think It Is: A Season of Unlikely Happiness, and founder of Haven Retreats.

TIME 30 Days of Ramadan

Ramadan, Day 14: A Wedding Sermon

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David Williams - www.hybriddave.com—Getty Images/Flickr Open

The holy month of Ramadan is a time of deep reflection for Muslims worldwide. Over the 30 days of Ramadan, Imam Sohaib Sultan of Princeton University will offer contemplative pieces on contemporary issues drawing from the wisdoms of the Qur’an – the sacred scripture that Muslims revere as the words of God and God’s final revelation to humanity. The Qur’an is at the heart of Muslim faith, ethics, and civilization. These short pieces are meant to inspire thought and conversation.

To all the newly wed or soon to be couples out there, I offer you my wedding sermon…

In the name of God, most merciful, most compassionate

All praise is due to God, the creator and sustainer of the worlds

Peace and blessings upon the Prophets and Messengers of God,

Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad –

And all who came in between them and all who follow them

Marriage is not just a legal contract; it’s a spiritual one too. This spiritual covenant is, perhaps, most beautifully described in the Qur’an when God says that a wife is like a garment for her husband, and a husband is like a garment for his wife (2:187). If we think what a garment does – it beautifies, elevates, comforts, covers and completes a person. Likewise, you are called to be this for each other through this spiritual covenant.

Marriage has a very real and high purpose. The Qur’an puts it this way: “so that you may dwell in tranquility” (30:21). It is tranquility that gives you a taste of the spiritual home that you came from and the home to which your soul yearns to return to – the abode of the hereafter that is filled with gardens for the righteous. So help each other cultivate this garden of tranquility here on Earth in preparation for that garden of tranquility that awaits.

To grow this garden, God gives you as a wedding gift two seeds with which to plant your flowers and trees: “And God places between [your hearts] love and compassion” (30:21). Love is to always want for your spouse what you want for yourself – Prophet Muhammad’s golden rule. It is to think of your spouse and to consider him or her well when you are together and when you are not. Love means commitment and loyalty. Compassion is to strive to be and remain empathetic toward each other throughout life, and to never allow apathy to settle between yourselves. It means listening to each other and being there for each other during times of ease and difficulty. And it means being able to forgive each other for shortcomings often and readily.

Every garden needs three things to grow beautifully and healthily: fertile soil that you can plant your roots in, sunlight everyday and nourishing rain that visits often enough.

Let the fertile soil of your marriage be God consciousness. If your marriage is rooted in the powerful idea that God has brought you together and that you’re, in the end, responsible before God in how you treat each other, then your marriage will be rooted in something that can withstand even the heaviest of storms. So pray together often. Fast together when you can. And go out and give in charity and serve the needs of others always. You will find God with you.

Let the sunlight everyday be gratitude – gratitude to God, yes, but also gratitude to each other. Recognize the blessing that each of you is for the other. Let no day go by in which you do not exchange gifts of gratitude. The simplest gifts, like a warm smile on a rainy day, can be the most valuable of these gifts. Giving each other your time, no matter how busy life gets, is the most important of these gifts. And, don’t let a day go by in which you do not say “Thank you” or “God bless you,” simple but important words of appreciation.

And, let the nourishing rain be patience and perseverance. This is simply because life is not always easy and being in a relationship is not always fruits and peaches. It takes struggle, sacrifice and hard work. Take each other by the hand and commit to going forward through every peak and valley with fortitude. And as God says, do this not grudgingly but with “beautiful patience” (70:5).

In conclusion, every couple has a critical decision to make: whether this garden of tranquility will be just for yourselves and your own enjoyment, or whether this garden will be for all those around you – your families, relatives, friends, community and society. I would submit to you that a holy marriage is one that chooses the latter. And this is why we pray, “May God unite you in all that is good,” because God has brought you together to be a force for spreading goodness in the world beginning with those who are closest to you. Therefore, let your marriage be about something much greater than your own selves.

We pray, then, that when people walk through your garden of tranquility and eat the fruits thereof, they say this is surely “from among the signs of God…for those who ponder” (30:21). And we pray as God asks the righteous to pray, “O our Guardian-Sustainer! Grant that our spouses and our children are a coolness for our eyes, and make us foremost among those who are God-conscientious and righteous” (25:74).

May God bless you!

May God’s blessings descend upon you!

May God unite you in all that is good!

Amen.

TIME celebrity

Watch Paul McCartney Help This Guy Propose to His Girlfriend

Who could say no?

+ READ ARTICLE

When Paul McCartney noticed that one of his fans was standing next to her boyfriend at a concert in Rochester, New York, holding a sign that “He won’t marry me until he meets you” and the boyfriend with one that says “I have a ring. And I’m 64,” he knew just what to do.

In this charming video, McCartney brings the couple onstage and has them sing the Beatles hit “When I’m 64,” about not-so-young love, before successfully proposing. They have the perfect backing band for it.

TIME relationships

Princeton Mom: “Stop Acting Like Such an Entitled Princess”

Susan Patton knows what's ruining marriages (Hint: It's the woman's fault)

Susan Patton, the Princeton mom who advised female students to spend their college years searching for husbands, is back! And now she says she has the answer to all marital woes: Ladies, you aren’t appreciating your men enough.

“Stop acting like such an entitled princess,” Patton said on Monday’s Fox & Friends. (Patton was responding to a segment from Sunday’s show that focused on what husbands should do for their wives.) “Recognize that there are many women who miss their opportunity entirely to marry and have children. If you’re fortunate enough to have found a man to marry, respect him.”

And for those less fortunate women still waiting on a ring, don’t forget that your clock is ticking. “If you are in your mid-30s or older the idea that you’re going to find yourself another husband, almost impossible,” said self-described human resources specialist and life coach. “And if you don’t believe me ask your maiden aunt, she will tell you when she’s done feeding the cats.”

In order to avoid becoming a cat lady, Patton recommends staying in a marriage regardless of happiness. “Don’t even think that divorce is an option. You work on it. You make it work,” she said. She may have some regrets in that area—the Princeton grad recently finalized her own divorce.

MONEY Love and Money

3 Questions You’d Better Answer Before Starting a Business with Your Spouse

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Defining your business roles early on can prevent fights down the road. Getty Images

Make sure you and your partner are in alignment on money, vision and business roles, says entrepreneur Allie Sarto.

When people find out that I’ve been running a company with my husband since I was 24, the reactions are always a mix of shock and wonder. “How does that work out?!” they ask us.

I’ll be honest: While it’s been a lot of fun, there have definitely been bumps along the road. We jumped in head first back in 2009 with no clear vision for what we wanted to get out of the company. We were both just along for the ride.

Now, five years in, I think I’m able to offer some advice to others who are thinking about doing something they feel passionately about with someone they feel passionately about. I’d suggest making sure you’re in alignment on these three areas before getting started:

1) How will you pay for expenses—your own and the business’s? This is arguably the most important aspect to be in agreement on from the get-go. Studies have shown a negative correlation between consumer debt and marriage quality; add in the stress of business expenses and a lack of steady household income because you’re both involved in the business, and you’re likely setting yourself up for trouble.

For every tale of an entrepreneur who makes it big after going deep into the hole with credit cards, there are dozens of other stories about entrepreneurs who are still struggling to pay off their plastic many years later.

What worked for us: We built up a six-month emergency fund before we ever left our jobs to start the new business. This absolutely saved us in the early days, since it took more than three months of hard work to earn a single penny for the new business.

Other couples I’ve talked to have had one partner stay in a full-time job while the other partner goes all in during the early days. This diversifies the risk and allows the couple to focus on building the company together without the stress of wondering how the bills will get paid. Once the company is to a point where business is consistent and the couple has been able to establish a safety net of emergency cash, both partners can commit to the business full time.

2) What is your vision for the company? A second point to be in alignment on before starting your business: your visions for your company’s future. How big do you want your company to become, and what types of sacrifices—typically time put into the business—are you willing to make to get there?

This vision will inevitably change over the years, so don’t discuss it once and consider yourself set for life. During the course of our business, we’ve had to make new decisions about whether to sell the business (we decided not to) and whether to slow down after having our first child (we decided this was the right choice).

3) What role will each of you play in the business? This may sound silly at first, but it’s important to set clear expectations of who will do what.

After meeting many other couples who run businesses together, I’ve found that in the most successful pairs, the spouses complement each other’s skill sets. For example, one is very business minded, while the other is the creative force behind the business. One might be great at managing the business behind the scenes, while the other is very good at managing client relationships.

I’d suggest making a list of roles that will need to be covered within the business, and then divvying these items out; that way, no one steps on anyone’s toes.

I’m not saying that answering these questions will prevent you from ever squabbling with your spouse about the business (if only!). But having the conversations early on can help you set the foundation for success—and prevent major disagreements from damaging your business or your marriage.

Allie Siarto is the co-founder of Fare Oak, an online women’s clothing company.

Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of promising young entrepreneurs.

TIME Marriage

45 Years After Stonewall, Oklahoma Still Awaiting Marriage Equality

I just returned home to Oklahoma from Manhattan, where I spent a few days in strategy sessions with Freedom to Marry. Our visit to the Stonewall Inn, the gay bar that was a target of viciously anti-gay police raids in the 1960s, was a highlight I will not soon forget. As we played bingo and decompressed from a long day, I was struck by how small the space was and I could only imagine the panic and terror that set in for the bar’s patrons as they endured police raids. I left Stonewall inspired by its place in history, its legacy of hope and real purpose to right the wrong of violent anti-gay discrimination.

Equal protection under the law for gay couples may be possible today in Oklahoma because of the Stonewall legacy and the four courageous individuals who filed a lawsuit challenging our state’s unconstitutional marriage ban a decade ago. Without the vision and grit of Mary Bishop, Sharon Baldwin, Gay Phillips, and Sue Barton — the possibility of legally marrying my fiancée — in our home state — next year would not be possible.

While we eagerly await a decision from the tenth circuit in Bishop v. Smith, we all fully recognize our work is not yet done. The freedom to marry for all will not be guaranteed until there is a national resolution by the U.S. Supreme Court.

No matter one’s political or religious affiliation, as Americans, we believe in practicing the Golden Rule, treating others as we would want to be treated. All loving and committed couples deserve to be treated with respect and the opportunity to get a civil marriage license.

In my younger days, when I would rant to my father — a lifelong Republican — about my concerns for our state, he would tell me to go cancel out his votes. But wasn’t enough to complain or even just to vote. I had to stand up for myself as those brave people at Stonewall Inn did, and organize for equality. So I have. My father is eager to see me happily married.

While the freedom to marry is a settled question in New York and 18 other states, the conversation is happening now around the dinner table across Oklahoma. Our campaign recently aired a television commercial featuring retired U.S. Army Colonel Ed Cuyler, who stood up for his lesbian daughter’s freedom to marry. When the face of marriage equality in Oklahoma is a 60-something-year-old white, conservative, straight male from Lawton, you know the cultural climate has changed in the buckle of the Bible belt.

Oklahoma, like all of America, is ready for the freedom to marry.

Amanda Snipes, a coordinator with Freedom to Marry, is outreach and communications director for Freedom Oklahoma.

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