Sunday, November 21, 2010

Marriage . . . Obsolete?

Have any of you read the USA Today coverage of a recent Pew Survey or any of the articles commenting on that original article?

The study of 2,600+ Americans found that four out of ten of us believe that marriage is obsolete. The article also used recent US Census data to include more interesting information. The most likely people in America to get married are white college graduates, and the median age for those who do marry (all of them, not just the white college graduates) is the highest it has ever been: about 28 years old for men and 26 years old for women. And for the first time in more than a century, there are more unmarried people between the ages of 25 and 34 than married people.

Interesting, yes?

I am now going to talk about what that made me think of and my own personal life experiences, because those are really the only things of which I have in-depth knowledge. So, please do not think I am making blanket statements for anyone other than myself. I am not attempting to comment on the marriage or divorce of anyone else or compare my marriage to any other. Selfishly, this is just all about me. :) Hey! It's my blog. ;)

I am 25, pregnant with my second child, and was married at the age of 20. I am white and a college graduate. (Although I did get married while I was still working on my degree.) I feel very blessed to be in my situation.

I did not live with my spouse before marriage and actually knew him for less than a year before getting married. However, neither he nor I entered into our marriage lightly, for we actually believe that we are not married "until a divorce" or "until death do us part." We believe we will be married forever. FOREVER. That's an unfathomably long time, so we'd better work hard to get along. And we do. (Although it is usually not that hard. Thank goodness!) ;) We both agree that there is no priority in our daily lives more important than each other. Hobbies, interests, activities, habits—all would be sacrificed for the survival of our marriage. (We made sure we shared the same values before we got married, so no worries with sacrifice there.)

 In April, we will have been married for five years, and we have both changed with time, but we have made a commitment to stick together, and we have changed together. In small ways, I become slightly more like him and he becomes slightly more like me, and I am truly excited for the future when we're great-grandparents and we'll, at times, simply sit in rocking chairs, hold hands, and smile.

Nothing could ever entice me to give up the security of unconditional love and the fulfillment of raising children. If you had "good," emotionally healthy parents, imagine how your mom and dad felt about you, and then imagine that you picked someone who feels that exact same way about you, but he's not your parent—he's your spouse! It's wonderful.

Is he perfect? No. Am I perfect? No. But we both try, and that's what matters. I honestly think that love is not the most important aspect of a marriage. It is certainly a necessity on the list, but the most important aspects of a lasting marriage are commitment and unselfishness.

Okay, so that was my tangent about myself. Now on to the part where I talk about what the article made me think.

And, in some ways, I believe that is why marriage is "falling out of favor" with Americans. I believe there is a huge trend for selfishness and convenience in our society. We are taught that "you just have to do what is best for yourself" or "if it's not working, try something new." When was the last time you had a belonging repaired instead of putting it in the trash and buying a new version? Did you use your television until it broke, or did you use it until you decided it was worth it to buy one that was bigger, flatter, sharper?

The beauty of marriage can be that you don't have to do what is best for yourself, because that is what your spouse is doing. And your spouse doesn't have to do what is best for him or herself, because that is what you should be doing.

Americans view so many parts of their lives with the mentalities of replacement-rather-than-repair and selfishness, that I am not surprised that it has slipped into our view of marriage as well. (Again, I am not speaking for 100% of the population.)

So, in a way, I think the lower marriage numbers (and the currently minority (but increasing) view of marriage as obsolete) indicate an acknowledgment of the undesirability of divorce, a recognition that marriage is a serious commitment, and an acceptance of forms of lasting relationships other than marriage (such as cohabitation or single parenting by choice). And mostly, it seems to originate from an admittance of a disinclination toward promising to stay devoted to one person for as long as one lives. We value freedom and flexibility increasingly more than the risk of trusting ourselves and someone else.

So, please, share with me your married, single, or divorced story and your personal theories for why more and more Americans are delaying and/or avoiding marriage.

Here are two more articles that you might find interesting: Can we be married, but independent? and Dating for a decade? And if you don't want to scroll up, here is the original article link again: Nearly 40% say marriage is becoming obsolete.

5 comments:

  1. wow you are amazing. incredible.
    i too am a little shocked with the realization marriage is unpopular. my sister has been with her boyfriend for 7 years. 7 years! and they live together. they are planning on getting married 11-11-11 and i hope they stick with that date. but it seems like what's the point when you already live together. my best friend is planning on never getting married. her older sister has a child 7 years old but they are not planning on getting married. another friend of mine that caught the boquet at my wedding has 2 kids, but she says they are planning on getting married eventually. interesting. i can't imaging life without nick. i love the security of being out of the dating scene.
    beautiful pictures. i wish i knew you when you got married.

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  2. Dear Mimi, thanks for your thoughts on marriage. My marriage in mortality, lasted almost 59 years. Since we were able to keep it going that long and keep it "fun" for that long, I'm grateful that our interruption at this time is only temporary. We too look forward to an eternity of the joy we've had together. Verda Adams has been very kind, considerate, and forgiving. I haven't always been considerate of her. I haven't been mean by choice, but by forgetting that I owed her a conference before making some decisions. I've said things I should have left unsaid, I've done things I should have done differently. But, she only locked me out of the house one time, in 59 years. We had been married about a month. Our discussion was not heated, but did include some misunderstanding. I suggested that I needed to walk around the block and get some fresh air in my lungs. She didn't reply, but when I returned, the door was locked. I knocked long and loud, pleaded for forgiveness, but to no response. I slept in the car that night. Next morning I tried knocking on the door again. My teary eyed sweetheart opened the door. We hugged and kissed and apologized. She fixed me a great breakfast. As I was leaving to go to work, she said, "If you ever do walk out on me, don't come back!" I agreed to that condition, and I never went out for fresh air alone, after that. We did spend one whole night discussing a topic which we both felt was important and that we should agree on. It was almost time to go to work when some inspiration came to me. I asked her about her understanding of the meaning of a word we had been using. She gave me an answer that shed a lot of light on our discussion. All my life I had used a different word for that same meaning. We spent the whole night in agreement, but we used a different word to describe how we felt about it, so we thought we were miles apart. Love, Grandpa H.

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  3. Loved Grandpa's comment. Devin worked with someone who married his girlfriend after living with her for nineteen years. I didn't get it - after 19 years, why decide to get married? I'll probably never know.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts Meems! You know I feel pretty much the same way you do, I love being married, the best part is that I'm married to Devin. :)

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  4. I read an article about the survey in the Washington Post. I have a couple comments.

    1) They seemed to have a high percentage of young people in their survey, so I'm sure it was terribly accurate; also, since most people under 30 are not married, it would make sense that a lot of them thought marriage was obsolete, even if they later changed their minds and got married.

    2) I thought it was very interesting that the federal government is finally changing the way that they classify families whose parents are unmarried. Until now, even if two parents are living with the children and working to support them, if they were not married, only one parent's income was considered when deciding if the family is in poverty (and also if they qualify for federal aid).

    This way all families are considered equally when deciding who is in poverty. And this way, maybe it will be easier for married couples to get the help they need.

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  5. Mimi, I love you, and I love everything you said. Seriously... I've started to type things, but you've already said them, and very eloquently.

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