I apologize in advance if this blog is a bit all over the place. I’ve been chewing on this for weeks now, hoping I could bring all my thoughts into a decent order to write this post. However, I’ve decided I need to just throw it out there and get it over with so I can stop mind-blocking myself from other topics.
My thoughts all kicked off when I read an article on a local tv station website that reported a new study suggested that marriage is becoming obsolete.
About 52% of Americans were married in 2008, down from 72% in 1960.
Researchers found that not only has marriage declined, but cohabitation, or unmarried partners living together, has become more widespread, nearly doubling since 1990.
It a very frustrating article because it suggests that young people do not want marriage, but then turns around and says young people DO want to get married, only they want to wait longer than their parents did to tie the knot.
In 2008, just 26% of people in their 20′s were married, compared to 68% in 1960.
Now, the average age for making it official is 27 for women and 29 for men.
Sounds about right. I was 26 when I got married, which was about on course for what you see today.
I am SO happily married. Which, I’m fairly sure marriage was not on most of my friend’s radars for me back in the day. Heck, to a degree, I guess I figured I’d get married some day, but I never felt a rush to do so. If it happened, great. If not, no big deal… until I fell head over heels and realized it was what was right for me. Now… I can’t imagine life without my husband. We complete each other, and there’s this HUGE comfort in knowing he’s there. We’re solid. We’re meant to be.
And yet within this, I look around as people get married and I find even myself, on occasion, going, “Do you really think they can make it?” Divorce is so rampant that I do understand people’s skepticism of marriages. Half the time I am bracing myself for news of friend’s marriages ending! So I understand the fear and skepticism. I really do.
But what I don’t understand is this repulsion towards it I see so often today. It goes beyond fear and skepticism. Celebrities claiming they “don’t believe in” marriage makes me want to cry (and deeply turns me off towards them.) I see so many couples who are happy to live together and raise a family, but the idea of actually getting married (even though their relationship has already lasted longer than some marriages!) is upwards of asking them to get into a box of killer bees. You can literally FEEL the waves of repulsion come off of them. The dreaded M-word!
Meanwhile, you have same-sex couples fighting every day to have the right to get married. Is this a case of “the grass is greener”, or is it that these same-sex couples see what so many heterosexual couples are missing: the many rights and benefits that come from getting married.
An article on NOLO lists out the many rights and benefits afforded to couples who get married. Just a few of them:
- Filing joint income tax returns (which at times will lend itself to better refunds!)
- Inheriting a share of your spouse’s estate.
- Receiving Social Security, Medicare, and disability benefits for spouses.
- Obtaining insurance benefits through a spouse’s employer.
- Taking family leave to care for your spouse during an illness.
- Taking bereavement leave if your spouse or one of your spouse’s close relatives dies.
- Visiting your spouse in a hospital intensive care unit or during restricted visiting hours in other parts of a medical facility.
- Making medical decisions for your spouse if they become incapacitated and unable to express wishes for treatment.
- Consenting to after-death examinations and procedures, including burial arrangements.
- Receiving family rates for health, homeowners’, auto, and other types of insurance.
- Suing a third person for wrongful death of your spouse and loss of consortium (loss of intimacy).
These are just a few of the many benefits that come from marriage on the legal side of things. Definitely visit NOLO for the full list. This doesn’t even go into the studies that show health benefits of marriage…
Granted, when marriages go south, it tends to be much uglier than dating or cohabitation. Divorce and legal actions have to happen. Mental and emotional stress goes through the roof. Etc.
I remember hearing over time that to have a strong marriage, each person needs to be a strong individual. And I’ll agree with that… to a degree. I think a strong marriage also comes from being willing to lean on each other. From working together to keep it strong. From loving each other through thick and thin (with obvious exceptions, like spousal abuse when you need to walk away). From knowing how to balance putting yourself and your spouse first in turn.
Call me old fashioned. I love weddings, and a strong marriage makes me incredibly happy to see. When I see something on TV, or read in the news, about couples married 30, 40, 50+ years, I get this giddy grin. I’m a romantic at heart, and I hope the idea of that “marriage becoming obsolete” was just a terrible choice of headline. I believe strongly in marriage!
I love being married. I wear my wedding ring proudly. And God help any man who thinks he’s going to look at it as a “challenge.” He’ll get an earful. Same for any woman towards my husband. Because my marriage is something I will fight for with a vengeance.
I feel so secure in that we CAN be apart for weeks at a time, and its okay (and makes the time we are together all the more precious!)
I don’t begrudge anyone who opts not to get married. Like I said in the beginning, I’m sure plenty of people saw me as “single and fabulous” as my destiny. But I DO have a hard time grasping this deep disdain and dislike I often feel from people towards the institution. It saddens me.
So what have I concluded in all of this? Not a whole lot, I guess. I’m still going to be chewing on this a bit, sitting back, listening to people’s opinions and thoughts on marriage. Trying to understand and see their point of view.
I just hope others will see mine, just the same.