Coontz agreed. "Friendship is so much more important to marriage than it used to be," she said. Educated couples who juggle breadwinning and childcare duties are doing well. Egalitarianism in marriage is on the rise and proving successful.
Today, Coontz said, the tensions in marriages arise "between work and family and between (couples') own relationship and their relationship with their kids."
"Now we've moved into the thing of marriage (in which) you're going to have to work on it," echoed Merskin. "The tendency is more around child care and the condition of children in these marriages, because both men and women have more options."
The movies, according to the experts, seem to be reacting to society's trends only slowly. But a few recent films are investing more in married couples, and performing well with audiences.
"Crazy, Stupid, Love," which was released last summer and according to the website Box Office Mojo, grossed more than $84 million domestically, focuses primarily on the deterioration and then rejuvenation of a long-married couple, who learn from their children and rekindle a romance gone neglected.
"What to Expect When You're Expecting," released on May 18 and currently the fifth most-popular movie at the box office, introduces five couples grappling with the prospect of impending parenthood. Four out of five are already romantically established.
Spoiler alert: They stick it out.
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