Noel Perrin's "A Part Time Marriage"

Essay by amberlynnCollege, Undergraduate May 2003

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First published September 9, 1984 in the New York Times magazine, Noel Perrin's "A Part Time Marriage," identifies the problems with modern marriages, as well as discusses the post-divorce behaviors of many middle class couples. He proposes his own resolution to these problems. Perrin feels that levels of intimacy can help in establishing the success of a relationship or marriage. I agree with him that elevated levels of intimacy and closeness will make for a longer and better relationship, even though we do have a rather high divorce rate.

Perrin's first point is that when many marriages end, post-divorce behaviors begin. He says that many middle class couples that have children who separate will slowly work into a part-time marriage. It starts normally when the woman leaves her husband to find herself. She and the ex will work into a kind of routine where he will come over to help out with the outside chores and handy work, she will maybe do his laundry, and he will almost always stay for dinner.

They may even de-velop back into a warmer relationship, without giving off any kind of impression to their children that they are going to get back together. This may go on for years and they will eventu-ally grasp that this is how their marriage should have been from the beginning; that is part-time.

I agree that many people in today's world who have re-cently been divorced will work into this type of routine. Even if you really feel affection for someone you may not want to be with them every waking moment. I think this happens more to couples who are not ready to give up on their relationship be-cause of a binding tie such as children. My brother and his wife...