This piece of satire was inspired by yet another “The Case for Marrying Young” article, this time appearing in The Atlantic.
A compelling case can be made for the advantages, particularly for women, of marrying just after you graduated high school. As a lazy writer and radio producer*, I’m disinclined to wrestle with the statistics right now though I’m perfectly capable of doing the math, but I believe a good case can be made, alternatively, for marrying whenever you damn well please.
There are costs to marrying at a very young age, a tradition the institutional Church seems intent on recommending, with articles consistently bemoaning the increasing ages of first marriage and dissecting all the causes. New research declares that I no longer give a damn what “new research” has to say about my life as a single woman. While marrying your first serious romantic partner does have benefits like having someone else on hand to open that jar of spaghetti sauce, the news isn’t all good.
While men and women are waiting longer to marry, some people are having kids outside of wedlock. While I can’t for the life of me think of why “out of wedlock mothers” became synonymous with “single mothers” even though linguistics and statistics don’t bear that out, I suppose I could allow for some concern over that idea. Because apparently single parents can’t provide stable homes for people who might grow up to become, oh, I don’t know, The President.
Also, there’s something to be said about seeing surveys about “satisfaction” and selectively reporting them as referendums about single and married life in general. And that something is “nuh-uh no way these self-reported surveys often have known biases that skew the results toward marriage as a symbol of ‘adulthood.’”
Of course, marriage has changed considerably over the course of history. In Bible times, women were married off pretty much right after their first period and didn’t really have a choice in whom they married. This was probably even the case for Mary and Joseph, the folks who raised Jesus – I mean, the whole problem of that thing was that Mary was *gasp* an unwed mother! OH NOES.
...where was I?
Oh, yeah. We’ve agreed basically by consensus of our changing culture that maybe having people with uteruses (uteri?) start spitting out babies shortly after they’ve started their monthly bleeding cycles is a Bad Idea. So we can probably adjust our culture to the shifting ideas of what marriage and family look like now without rending our clothes and grieving in sackcloth over the demise of an idealized image of the American Family That Never Was.** And it doesn’t necessarily matter if/when a woman gets married because autonomy, y’know?
Of course, the idea of autonomy seems mightily offensive to some folk. But see, when they long for the good ol' days when women and men married at 20 and settled down, what they're actually saying is that they'd like to see marriage returned to the time when women were encouraged not to educate themselves but rather to depend solely upon a man. This frequently trapped young women in abusive or just plain unhappy marriages because women weren’t educationally or vocationally equipped to leave.*** But now apparently cishet women choosing career and financial stability before (not instead of, but before) a husband, asserting their autonomy and taking the right choice instead of the first choice is hedonism. Or something. That argument is really unclear, because you'd think hedonists wouldn't get married.
Let’s insert a completely unnecessary personal anecdote, because the plural of anecdote is TOTALLY data, right?
I’m twenty seven years old. I’m single. I have two higher education degrees that have enabled me to find a stable job to support myself and pay back my educational debt, and find a fulfilling life doing what I love. I have a cat, and yes, I drink about a bottle of wine every couple of weeks, because I enjoy having a glass of wine now and then and White Zinfandel tastes good.****
What’s more is that I am happy. I am satisfied with
my life. I’ve had the opportunity to travel – I’ve lived in England and Japan
and travel internationally on a yearly basis for my day job. I also have the
freedom to take off for a weekend if I want and an open schedule that only I
dictate. I am also responsible – I pay my bills on time – and I am successful –
I have a steady job, a blog with good stats, and friends I dearly love and am
incredibly grateful for. I have a number of people who are my chosen family who
would go to bat for me in a heartbeat (and frequently do). I know people of all
different walks of life and I love that being single in my 20s has afforded me
the opportunity to know them. My life that would be entirely different had I married at 19. Not bad, just different.
And you know what? I know people who got married at 19 who are happy with that decision - fewer of them than these older Christians who keep urging us to marry young. And I think the high divorce rate that correlates (but is not necessarily caused by because, gee, social trends are complex!) with an earlier age of marriage is something to be concerned about - a trend that these people who urge for early marriage seem unconcerned about or intent at sweeping under the rug.
What's important here though is this: my life decisions are not a referendum on anyone else’s and they are not an invitation for white American Christians to pearl clutch and whine about how “times have changed” and “demographics are different.”
My life is my life, married, singled, divorced, widowed, or otherwise affiliated. Marriage, if it happens, will be the icing on the cake of a life well lived and that does not make it any less valid or any less awesome OR any less of a cornerstone that will change and alter my life.
End of discussion.
*Note that this has nothing to do with the subject at hand. I just thought I’d brag about my TOTALLY AWESOME job.
**I mean, read The Feminine Mystique, people.
***Again, read the research, people.
****Shut up, Preston.