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The study of 2,600+ Americans found that four out of ten of us believe that marriage is obsolete.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.
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.
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.