An increasing number of women have decided that walking down the aisle is not their only route to happily-ever-after. The question that then begs asking is why so many of them are choosing to get married later in life, or to forego marriage altogether. What are the consequences of such actions?
“Why not make an honest woman out of her?” That was the question that Whitley Louvier’s boss asked Brad, her boyfriend of seven years, as they were attending his coworker’s nuptials. This was in an attempt to give Brad a hard time.
The question was so irritating, Louvier, aged 24 now honestly reveals. She currently studies psychology and lives near Houston, Texas. She believes her boss wrongly assumed that because she was already cohabiting with her boyfriend, Louvier must have been yearning for a proposal from him.
Her boss couldn’t have been further from the truth. Louvier’s boyfriend has been trying to persuade her to her to seriously consider marrying him. At times, he even introduces her to others as his better half, and although Louvier has nothing but praises to sing about her boyfriend, she is nonetheless not yet ready to settle down. She then states that she can’t even consider marriage until she’s at least 29 or 30. Not before she has at least attained her master’s degree
As for the boss and her husband, they ended up getting divorced, just a month later, according to Louvier. One is left to wonder why she was set on convincing Louvier to enter an institution that she was already in the process of leaving, as subsequent events proved.
Whitley thinks her boss may have just been thinking of the difficult process she had been through trying to get her divorce. You know, splitting the house, sharing the kids, and all the trivial jealousies, Louvier surmises. Misery truly loves company.
While Louvier may be left with the feeling that people like questioning her choices, she definitely isn’t t alone in putting off her wedding. You wouldn’t know it from The always-elaborate, fairy-tale wedding shows bombarding our television sets on an almost daily basis have succeeded in cleverly masking the surprising fact that a growing number of young American women are not transforming into a wannabe bridezilla army. Instead, they are delaying their marriage or, to an increasing extent, foregoing marriage altogether at an ever-accelerating rate.
Statistics from 1970 indicate that the marriage rate for women aged between 20 and 24, and those who had married by 29 were 60 and 90 percent respectively. This contrasts sharply with similar figures from 2010 which show that only 20 percent of women had married by 24 while just 50 percent had done so by age 29. Philip Cohen, who is a sociologist, has predicted that the percentage of people deciding to get married will hit zero by 2042 if the current rate of decline remains unchecked. Such a scenario is obviously highly unlikely which should not, however, distract attention from the alarming fact that the decline of marriage will not level off anytime soon.
Rebecca Traister, author of a soon-to-be-published book on the topic of unmarried women (Simon & Schuster, 2014), chips in by calling the decline unprecedented. In the history of the United States, the marriage institution has never been infrequent or as delayed as it is at the rates we see currently.
This can partly be explained by the fact that modern women no longer require the security that comes with marriage because they may have witnessed the tradition of wedded bliss not working particularly well in the case of their own parents. In a similar fashion, a large number of young people are currently burdened by debts and an economic climate filled with uncertainty, all of which makes planning for the long-term tougher.
Whenever people get married today, it appears to be different from past years. Stephanie Coontz, writing in her book, Marriage, A History, states that for millennia, humans had little choice in picking if and who they should marry, not to mention whether they wanted any kids or not. Many marriages ended in death sooner than those ended by divorce nowadays. A woman’s property, finances, and sexuality were owned exclusively by her husband, and only he had the final say in all decisions.
Today’s world has changed completely. People can live longer, healthier, which means there’s less pressure to get married or procreate while one is still young. Also, the ability of women to prosper financially and emotionally by themselves is today at an unprecedented high. According to the latest statistics, 25 percent more women than men graduate from college today, and a majority of them are entering the workforce with their degrees.
Andrew J Cherlin, a professor of sociology at John Hopkins University opines that 50 years ago, attending college and not, at least, being engaged by the time you graduated was a cause for great concern. He continues by saying that today, on the other hand, that parents will today get nervous if any of his Hopkins undergraduates gets married while still in college.
The numbers prove the parents right. A recent study conducted by the reputable National Marriage Project, and titled Knot Yet: The Benefits and Costs of Delayed Marriage in America, concludes that women make more money if they delay getting married until they have reached the age of 30 or older. The premium totaled $18,152 annually among college-educated females in their mid-30s. And women who eventually do get married at an older age despite initially waiting longer reap many other benefits. A perfect example is in the fact that the United States divorce rate has been on a decline partly due to couples who marry while still in their teens have a higher likelihood of getting divorced than those who wait till they’re older.
Undeterred by such statistical trends, there has been a recent and ongoing campaign in media circles praising the virtues of early marriage. Only this spring, self-proclaimed Princeton Mom, Susan Patton generated a huge buzz when she sensationally young women attending the college to find husbands among the men on before their graduation dates. She persuaded them further by claiming that they would never again be in an environment with such a high concentration of very eligible bachelors.
Megan McArdle, a Newsweek Magazine libertarian writer followed this up by suggesting in the publication that because more women lacking college educations are having children on their own while their college-educated counterparts women spend their money on expensive fertility treatments, the notion that marriage should be put off until one has figured out other aspects of their lives has become outdated.
Such arguments may be an attempt to shove the genie back into the bottle. Traister chips in again through the opinion that there is an automatic tendency kick women back into a box whenever they seem to have liberated themselves in one way or another. In the past, you could only count if you happened to be married. Today, you will count even if you are alone.
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO has written in her best -seller Lean In, on constantly being urged to marry while young and to find a proper man before all the good ones run out. She finally threw in the towel, at the age of 24, because she had become convinced that getting married was the initial step that would lead to a happier and more productive life. She got divorced, one short year later.
It is, therefore, crucial that you are a fully-formed grown up before plunging into any marriage, Sheryl narrated to Cosmo as she concluded that she may have married while still too young. Sheryl expresses her belief that women should not be told the appropriate time for making life-changing decisions by stating that it should always be about whom, rather than when. – adrianwafula