Mawwiage, that bwessed awangment…that dweam within a dweam…
I ran across this piece the other day in our local newspaper, which picked it up from the Washington Post. The headline reads, “Married couples at a record low,” and goes on to discuss recent trends in cohabiting choices. The author, Carol Morello, says, “[t]he marriage patterns are a striking departure from the middle of the 20th century, when the percentage of adults who never wed was in the low single digits. In 1960, for example, when most baby boomers were children, 72 percent of all adults were married. The median age for brides was barely 20, and the grooms were just a couple of years older.” She goes on to argue that marriage rates are dropping particularly among the poor and those under 30.
Although the drop in marriage rates is not news, for some reason this piece caught my attention. The idea that “four in 10 Americans younger than 30 consider marriage passé” is startling to me, I have to admit. Granted, I don’t know how the question was phrased, and certainly people in their 30’s may feel differently about this matter than people in their 20’s, passé is a pretty strong word for such a longstanding, dominant institution.
Mr MM and I have been married for 28 years. I didn’t date as a teenager, being pretty inept with boys, and into my 20’s I still didn’t do much dating. It never occurred to me that I would ever marry; I was pretty average-looking and not skilled in relationship building. I can’t say I was especially interested in marriage or kids either. When I met the future Mr MM, he was quite clear that he was looking to get married, and after we’d dated for a couple of years, that seemed the next logical step. I didn’t think about it much, since I knew that by entering into a serious relationship with him I was tacitly accepting his terms. I’ve had no cause to regret choosing marriage. Mr MM is a supportive, loving partner and we have a good life together. We went on to have a couple of kids and I was a stay-at-home mom for about 16 years—it doesn’t get much more heteronormative than that. For us, marriage has been a success.
I know, though, that I’m older than the Harpies and many of the readers of this blog. So I’m curious. Are you married? In an LTR without marriage? Why? How did you decide whether to have the relationship sanctioned by the state?
If you’re not married, do you want to be at some point? Why or why not? What do you see as the advantages and disadvantages of marriage? Here, I guess we have to separate civil from religious marriage, since the reasons for choosing each are different.
If you agree with the article, why do you think that choosing to marry is becoming a class issue? Do you think this is a long-term trend or just a blip due to a poor economy?