Charles Darwin's son, Leonard, was not sanguine about marriage in the near term:
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.But Darwin foresaw a time when the pendulum would swing in the other direction:
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.
My favorite bit is from novelist Edward Phillips Oppenheim:
The working classes, 100 years hence, won’t have changed an atom in this matter of marriage. Marriage to them is, and always will be, based on unadulterated love.
Working-class unions have provided the far greater number of those of the world’s children whose existence has sprung from genuine human mate affection; working-class unions have provided the far greater number of faithful spouses. Nothing will change it, no matter how many years roll by.
Apparently Oppenheim couldn't conceive of the Jerry Springer show. That's all right. Who could have?