By Shelby Louwerens
In this day and age, marriage is a whole different entity than it was when our grandparents were growing up. Couples have pushed marriage further back into their later years, and have even opted to cut out marriage all together. Where most of our grandparents were married in their teens, being married in our twenties seems too soon today.
According to the National Health Statistics Report of 2012, the median age of those married for the first time is 28.3 for men and 25.8 for women. My grandparents were married at 16. Quite a difference, isn’t it?
The marriage rate declined over 50 percent from 1970-2010 according to The State of Our Unions 2011. Looking again at my grandparents, they were married up until my grandfather died at age 72. That’s 56 years of marriage, and unions like that are going down the drain at a rapid pace.
Personally, I think it’s an absolute shame that this layoff of marriage has taken place. I feel as though a “young” marriage is considered taboo today because of a lack of responsibility put upon young people and replaced with a sense of extended adolescence and irresponsibility.
Instead of working a job, people in their 20s use further education as a reason and a means to delay responsibility. While in school, students rely on their parents to pay their way, use their FAFSA information to gain financial aid and scholarships, and spend their weekends draining their parents’ accounts in alcohol, take-out food and movies.
While attached to their parents by the pocketbook, young people have no need or desire to strike out on their own, work and become independent before it is absolutely necessary. When they can’t be independent, marriage is no longer an option.
Another reason I see a decline in both young marriage and marriage in general is because the level of commitment among people is almost laughable. Now, more than ever, people are looking for “no strings attached” relations or one night stands, instead of a committed, serious relationship.
Tinder is an extraordinary example of this. Tinder is the dating/hook-up mobile app that has become popular on the Ole Miss campus, with which people of both sexes can ogle scantily-clad pictures with which they make split-second decisions about who looks good enough to match up with.
The bottom line is this – if someone can have all the money in their parents’ savings account and have all of the sexual satisfaction they want from a cell-phone-driven hook-up app, what do they need marriage for?
Ultimately, I think that marriage has shifted because values have shifted. The priority is no longer about having a husband or wife and raising a family. It is about being selfish – gathering up all of the wealth, education, social status, sexual partners and fun that one can until it is no longer feasible or socially acceptable to do so.
As for me, I will be married in December at age 21. My fiancé and I both work, and we can make it work. And I think, if traditional values rose again, others could make it work too.