While many fear that America is falling out of the marriage habit, and that, these days, all is bad in love and more, new stats show otherwise. Supposedly, 86% of women marry by age forty. This says something, considering that a 20-year-old article in Newsweek declared that “a 40-year-old single woman had a better chance of being killed by a terrorist than getting married.” Ouch.
Anyway, the good news is that the majority of ladies who wish to tie the knot actually do. Even better news – they’re no longer rushing into it (for the most part), and they’re doing it for (arguably) the right reasons. The marriages of long ago were meant to be purely practical, usually fairly unromantic. Whereas in the 1900’s singles were trying to find a “sensible” partner, they’re now seeking a “soul mate”; and according to a 2007 Pew study, “mutual happiness and fulfillment” is the goal. And while this may be the reason more marriages end up in divorce these days (it may be hard to reach this expectation), at least people are striving for more than comfort. I would argue that it’s much nicer to be able to marry who you want and divorce who you want, than to be stuck with a “practical” person.
Something else that’s helping us find satisfaction — women and men are experimenting with sex at an earlier age. Have we “loosened our sexual morals so much we’ve endangered marriage?” Not at all. In fact, “it can be argued that premarital sex has freed us to make better choices when it comes to marriage partners and to know ourselves better, too.” So … keep experimenting, ladies.
Also, because women are freer to pursue their education and career goals, their search for life-long partners has been delayed considerably. And women who wait until at least age 25 to get hitched tend to have more successful marriages than those who don’t.
So, in sum, more of us are getting married later in life, although we’re not always staying married. But even if marriages aren’t lasting as long, our freedom in love and sex has certainly grown. And I’d take freedom over an old-fashioned, “practical” marriage, any day.