After the victory of same-sex marriages being legalized in all 50 states, I came across a quote: "I fully support any marriage that doesn't involve me."
I laughed because it resonated. At age 43, with one marriage and one divorce behind me, with a teenager on the loom, the last thing on my mind is marriage. We've all also noticed young people choosing to opt out of marriage in general and be in committed relationships without the government paperwork instead. Marriage is an institution that is slowly crumbling.
I'm not saying, "Be single; forget marriage; it's not all it's cracked up to be." To each his own and there are many factors that are beautiful in a marriage. But my thoughts are about why single-hood is so appealing to people nowadays and how marriage is increasingly seen as a burden rather than the beautiful bond it used to be.
1) The issue of choice:
As early as decades ago, it was expected that we would all get married, pop out babies and live in a home with the white picket-fence. It's been engrained in our psyches since childhood. But that simply is not an idea that appeals to some people. They may or not marry, but the choice has to be theirs, not because their parents, aunts, grandmothers and society are reminding them that the clock is ticking. Young people are finding immense power in the notion of having a choice.
2) The pressures and losing one's identity that come with marriage:
As independent as you may think you are, marriage is about give and take (and that's how it should be), but some people don't want to lose their independence and give so equally. These people should not be in a marriage because it doesn't work unless it's equal all the way through. Maybe women don't want to cook dinner, go to social functions, befriend their partners' friends. As I mentioned in my last blog on divorce, even in marriage, it's not just a piece of paper; the dynamics of your life change in every area. And once kids come into the picture, there goes even the shred of autonomy you have! Young people today want to live life to the fullest and not be bogged down by anything. After the honeymoon phase, reality hits and they realize that ti's not really what they signed up for.
3) Marrying for the sake of marrying:
When we settle into a marriage because we feel we have found someone "good enough," right away, we're doomed. You should never "settle" in a marriage or marry someone good enough. A marriage is a partnership and you can't have a good one if you have settled with your spouse because the time was right or you had dated for (x) number of years. Down the road, you'll see that you settled, that marriage wan't exactly what you had in mind and by then, it's too late: the destiny of at least two people will have been changed.
4) There are still too many gender roles in a marriage:
This once's so cut and dry that even Cinderella would be running away from putting on the glass slipper. Women are still expected to do most of the parenting aspects, cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, going grocery shopping, etc. On top of that, many women work. That's a lot to handle. So before you get into a marriage, make sure you are clear with your would-be spouse on how to break gender roles and handle household duties. (And yes, there are plenty of men who would.)
5) Working women:
Since the feminist movement, this is not a new concept. But women are increasingly reluctant to give up their careers to become housewives or stay-at-home moms, both of which are full-time an thankless jobs. They can also be immensely rewarding, but it is up to a woman to decide if that's what she wants or if it's thrown on her like a cloak after the ceremony. It is never Ok for your spouse to ask you to stop your goals and aspirations just because you are now Mrs. X.
6) Having kids out of wedlock is no longer seen the taboo it once was.
Couples can conceive or adopt a child and raise it together (or alone) without all the other aspects of marriage that come with it. Young people no long care "what people will say" and they're opting to choose to have babies but not husbands.
7) The need for freedom:
Whether as a wife or husband, you need freedom to pursue your interests, hobbies, and social engagements that don't involve your partner. I have seen way too many couples who are non-compatible in this area and I observe what I dub "married for the sake of being married." I revel in my single-hood when I'm around these married couples for extended periods of times. I see how much hostility, blame and just going-through-the-motions-type lives they are leading. Couples in their 40s act and sound like old married couples.
Marriage and growing old and sharing your life with someone can be beautiful. But I see two trends: marrying for all the wrong reasons and then one day regretting the decision and secondly, young people who no longer believe that you need to government and a five-star wedding to deem that you are each other's' soul mates.
If you're blissfully in love and think you are among the 50 percent who will stay together, by all means, go for it. But please have long, meaningful talks (and often) with your would-be spouse about your goals, responsibilities, dealbreakers, keeping your identity, etc. before you decide on the china pattern. A wedding is one night; a marriage, done right, is forever.