Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
For Your Journal: Writing Prompt

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Do you keep a journal - or wish you could get one started? Literary Mama wants to help.

Three times a month, I'll post a writing prompt. Open a notebook and write for 10 minutes. Don't worry about grammar or punctuation - just write. Then let the writing simmer and your mind wander for awhile.

And who knows? Maybe you'll discover a character for your next short story or a theme for a narrative essay. Or maybe you'll use the idea to create a special holiday card or photo album for someone in your family. However you decide to use your journal entry, I know you'll enjoy re-reading it months--and years--down the road.

Worldwide excitement for the royal wedding of Britain's Prince William, the hoopla over Chelsea Clinton's wedding last summer, and the media's updates about Bristol Palin's on-again-off-again engagement saga suggest we're suckers for a good love story.

Yet, nationwide surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center in 1978 and 2010 show that the number of Americans under age 30 who think marriage is obsolete has increased from 28 percent to 44 percent. Paradoxically, only five percent of those surveyed in 2010 say they don't want to get married.

And although most respondents responded that marital status was not relevant to achieving respect, career goals or financial security, more than 75 percent believe that marriage is important when it comes to raising a family. (Listen to a discussion of this survey, which aired on National Public Radio last November, here.)

Another survey that followed 5,000 children born in large U.S. cities between 1998 and 2000, found "a large proportion of unmarried parents are in 'marriage-like' relationships at the time of their child's birth but only 35 percent of unmarried couples are still living together five years after the birth of their child, and less than half of that group are married."

The Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a joint project of Princeton and Columbia universities, also found that "once the relationship with baby's father ended, 40 percent experience at least one new partnership and 14 percent have a child with the new partner."

When Ken and I married, the idea of building a family outside the institution of marriage never crossed our minds. We followed the "first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in the baby carriage" thinking because it was the way our families raised us and because we believed it to be the best way to build our lives together.

It's worked for us: this week, we'll celebrate year number 23.

Journal Entry: What role does marriage play in your family? How do your views compare with those of your parents? Is marriage one of your dreams for your children?

Karna ConverseĀ is a freelance writer who’s written everything from technical documentation and price proposals to newsletter articles, devotionals, personal profiles and essays. Her essays have been published in a variety of regional and national publications, including The Christian Science Monitor, Notre Dame Magazine, the Cup of Comfort and Chicken Soup anthologies, Our Iowa, and on Iowa Public Radio. She and her husband are parents to three young adults. Karna is a former blog editor, senior editor, managing editor, and editor-in-chief of Literary Mama.

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Terrific idea. Right off the bat... I am one of five girls in a family of six. I am the only one who had a stable marriage (20 years in October), two of my sisters divorced after just a few years of marriage and have not remarried. Another sister has never married and the last recently became a widow. None of them are eager or interested in a committed relationship that would lead to marriage. What happened to me?
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