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Marge moody and 15 LPs to explains why courts simply the couple, saying: I 't think they are telling the truth about and I think they are still going to get married. just got nervous. Sometimes, when it's your first wedding, that happens. Yes, she is only 9. What is the world coming to when 9-year-old girls casually refer to someone's FIRST wedding rather than just their wedding. Vaughan, Oct 2003 A comment to daughter from eight-year-old classmate stopped me tracks and made me wonder what is the world coming to. The little boy asked daughter, who do you live with your Mom or your Dad? That says it all, doesn't it? Brethour Stephens, Oct 2003 DEAR LANDERS: Please advise your readers before they send a wedding gift to check and make sure the couple is still married. I wish I had. Mary and were high-school sweethearts. They went together five years before they married. Everyone thought they were the perfect couple. The wedding was one of the most beautiful this town has ever seen bridesmaids, ushers, a flower-laden canopy, a string quartet, a harp the whole nine yards. I spent a lot more on dress and the gift than I had a right to, but I was sure the relationship was rock-solid and that this would be the social event of the year, I went all out. I sent the gift 10 days after the wedding. Guess what? Five weeks after the extravaganza, the couple split. They were divorced the following month. No wedding gifts were returned. What do you think of this, Landers? Skunked Somewhere East of the Rockies DEAR SKUNKED: Back 1993, the Bureau of the Census predicted that four out of 10 first marriages would end divorce. couples split up within the first two years of marriage, although a growing number of divorces are occurring among the elderly. A recent issue of a magazine featured on its cover a photo of actress Thorne-Smith, radiant and smiling, wearing her elegant bridal gown. There was a six- spread with 's firsthand account of how she was planning her wedding. Seven months later, the couple separated. Is this a sign of the times? I'm afraid the answer is yes. Landers, Dec 2001 OSLO With a free Saturday on his hands and a new downtown apartment to fill, the affable 27-year-old known simply as Haakon put on jeans, sweater and sneakers, bundled himself against the Nordic a gray duffel coat and went to check out some sounds a record store and shop at discount houses. Hours later, he returned home with his purchases and was greeted by his lover, Mette-Marit Tjessem Hoiby, 27, and her 3-year-old Marius. far, this is nothing out of the ordinary for Oslo, where even the most urbane people dress informally, more than half of children are born out of wedlock and cohabiting is common. But just how common this particular pair are permitted to be has become a test for the famously tolerant Norwegians. Haakon is the country's hereditary a who one day quite likely have to trade his earphones for a king's crown. 2001 Like Cohabitation, Prenups are a sign of the times. Just as the divorce rate of modern marriages has risen to nearly 50 percent, the just case practice of signing prenuptial contracts has also grown. We live age of realism. We live age of contracts, says Elrod, law professor. Christian Science Monitor, 2000 explanation for today's ostentatious weddings: I suggest another reason for ostentatious weddings? of today's couples live together before they are married. Thus the thrills of yesteryear's weddings are gone. No longer is there the fun of decorating the nest. Why get excited about the honeymoon destination when they've traveled all over already? Who cares about their first dance, first toast, first anything they've been there, done that. to create a sense of excitement, today's couples have to beef up the wedding day with fancy cakes, elaborate favors and over-the-top gowns to get guests fired up for a wedding that has nothing to do with beginning a life together, but is more like a salute to themselves with the added bonus of gifts. Macken, New Times, Letters to the Editor, 6 It helps to compare a wedding and marriage to building a building. The wedding is the first shovel ceremony with the President of the Chamber of Commerce and the Mayor and City Fathers all present and then the senator makes a speech and turns the first shovel full of dirt and everyone present shakes hands and rejoices at the future of this building…but the empty lot still sits there. You have to build the building yet. Then you have to use the building. Then you have to pay for the building and keep the building maintained. And furnish it. And decorate it. A dedication is a nice thing and gets everyone pumped, but the work is just beginning. Bing Wall,