Monday January 23, 2017

The Future of Marriage Seen from 1926

by Christopher Chantrill
July 10, 2006

Eighty years ago advanced people were beginning to understand “that the emancipation of women was changing the nature of marriage.” What would that mean to marriage a hundred years from 1926? The London Times asked some “luminaries from the arts world” for their predictions about marriage. You can see their prophesies (here). Interestingly, the most sensible thinking came from Leonard Darwin, son of Charles Darwin and President of the Eugenics Education Society(!). Wrote Darwin:

My anticipations are somewhat different from my hopes. For some time to come the marriage tie will, I believe, become more lax and children brought up without the care of both parents more numerous. Childless intercourse before marriage will increase in frequency, such temporary unions being often followed by childless marriages with the same or some other partner.

The harm done by the abandonment of family life will however become more and more generally apparent and then will begin a slow swing back to more old- fashioned views as to the sanctity of the marriage contract, together with a greater readiness to submit to sacrifices and to impose hardships in order to keep family circles united.

Hilaire Belloc, the comic poet of Cautionary Verses, wrote this:

It would seem probable that the process of regarding marriage as a terminable contract will advance with still greater speed... There is no reason in the new scheme why a man should be compelled to support his wife any more than the wife her husband...

But what I do think probable is conflict between that sort of society and the traditional world which will exist either as a separate area or as a distinct and contrasting social group. I am pretty sure that one will try to kill the other.

The question remains: which group will kill the other first?

Christopher Chantrill blogs at