Can anyone tell me when it became common knowledge that to marry young is to ruin the rest of your life, but to marry old is to set yourself up for the best marriage possible? And when did it become okay to comment flippantly on the family decisions – or better yet, the sex lives! – of a family of which you are not a member? And dare I say it – I dare – when did those who marry young suddenly become the experts on marriage, divorce, the rate at which those happen, and the statistical analysis that to marry young is to doom oneself to divorce while to marry older is to save oneself from the terror that is a failed lifelong bond?
Questions, I have, but answers, I do not. I address the baby boomer generation I know so well, and lest I generalize, take note that I do know quite a few baby boomers who don’t ascribe to this theory/idea/”knowledge”. I’m only concerned with the many who do. So…when did you all become so cynical?
Was it during the free-love 70’s? Because really, most of you weren’t too old to cash in on the cultural swing of free love and free STDs, but you didn’t. You chose otherwise. Many of you married, and married relatively young, at that. You may have even chosen to start a family and have children before you turned, say, 30. ::gasps echo through the crowd:: And yet…you have a notorious reputation for lamenting the plight of today’s young people. And by plight, of course, I mean the path of marriage and children as an option before the age of say, 30. Let’s examine just exactly why I’m going all rant-errific on this subject.
Allow me to set a scene: Persons known to me, of varying ages from 45-60something, are discussing the life of someone young, approximately 30, who is known to them. Conversation focuses on the ex-husband of said young woman, and his blatant infidelity. It becomes apparent that said infidelity ended the marriage, and his current actions are unknown, although there is much speculation that he “was with” some other woman, but is no longer with said woman.
Following this gossip session, which I do not participate in (as I know neither of the subjects under discussion), a statement is directed at me.
“Marie, this is why you shouldn’t get married. Find a boyfriend, but don’t get married.”
Now, being an idealistic 22-year-old from a “traditional” family, I balk at this.
“And what, find one and then just string him along for a few years? What’s the point in that if I’m not planning to marry him?”
I fully admit that I didn’t follow the line of logic. Because one marriage broke up, I shouldn’t seek to put myself in one? The reply comes quickly:
“Well, you want someone to… have fun with.”
And in case you didn’t catch the part where I’m naive and young and believe that marriage can actually work when you try, I neglect to pick up the undertone for about 30 seconds of silence. At which point I realize the implications of “fun”. Oh – the whole “you don’t need to be married to have *wink* fun these days!” deal.
“Well, that’s not what I’m looking for. Call me old-fashioned, but I like being old-fashioned.” I countered, with little joking manner to my statement. Gosh, I guess I’m old-fashioned since I don’t want to string along some boyfriend for some fun for the next ten years of my life. I’m aware of the limited fertility of females. I also know that maturity, while somewhat linked to age, does not magically appear when one crosses the bridge to 30. And I’m also aware – go figure – that a key factor in a marriage is the commitment and a belief that it is an unbreakable bond. And I’ll even dare to say it: postponing commitment to later in life to ensure that one does not commit “too early” to a lifelong bond doesn’t ensure that one will commit *better*.
Does that make sense? I’m too rant-eriffic to spend hours trying to rephrase. But in summation:
Am I supposed to married right now? No. I know this for certain. Superficially, there’s been no one of marriage-caliber in my life to date, and beyond that, I’m counting on some serious prayer to ensure I don’t screw up what could be a life’s greatest decision, that of a spouse. Do I want to be married right now? No, not particularly, if only because I know it’s not the time. Also, I’m psyched for grad school and I’m loving the idea of living alone while I struggle through it. 😉 But am I about to follow the advice of some most-likely-well-meaning folk and postpone a lifelong commitment just so that I… don’t have to deal with the ramifications of a lifelong commitment?
I can’t help but shake my head. I just don’t get it. If this is old fashioned, I don’t want to get anywhere near “new fashioned”.