A new report issued by the Pew Research Center shows that 4 out of 10 people think that marriage is obsolete. Of course most of the people who share that sentiment are us- jaded twenty-somethings who watched the nuclear family crumble before our eyes. We watched our parents bicker and barter until there was nothing left or maybe we were completely blindsided by a surprise dissolution. Either way, we got the craped scared out of us.
The famous New York Times article, “What Is It About Twenty-Somethings?“, explains that two thirds of Generation Y live with a romantic partner without getting married and that the median age of marriage is up from 21 to 26 for women and 23 to 28 for men in less than forty years. I know I for one can be counted in that 40% represented in the Pew Research report. It was only as of recent that I warmed up to the idea of marriage and I’m 27! This was the age my mother got married and that was considered late in 1977. I still don’t believe marriage works, but I’d rather try my chances than
becoming a shut-in with pet hamsters named after Mad Men characters with the Don Draper hamster taking cuddle priority over the rest never at all.
Outside of watching marriages drop like flies, other factors such as the current economic state, waning religious beliefs, and the over-idealization of love and romance have also played a factor in our decision-making process. Hundreds of years ago people got married to ensure legacy or wealth, but now it’s impossible to imagine marriage without love. It’s even more impossible to imagine having to mount an over-weight, bald, middle-aged farmer neighbor that your parents married you off to at 14. Watching way too much television and film as a child taught me that I don’t have to marry that neighbor, I can marry any neighbor, or hell, I can even marry a dude with perfectly white teeth or a doctor who moonlights as a vigilante or someone that smells like Cary Grant.
But back to divorces and why they messed us up.
I have a theory that if you come from a “broken home” you turn out one of two ways- 1.) you learn what not to do from your folks and quickly and happily create a family of your own or 2.) run screaming away from anything that resembles commitment or small beings that yell and poop. That’s not to say that your view can shift through the years. It takes many years of self-reflection and therapy to undo what your family did to you but it IS possible.
My parent’s divorce was easy compared to most. There was no cheating, no abuse, no mind games, no yelling even. My father simply realized that marriage and fatherhood was not his bag. My parents tried to make it work, but soon enough it became clear that the marriage was over. He moved from our home in New York down to Maryland and my mother and I would often visit. Eventually he met another woman and the same 12-year marriage cycle repeated itself. Now past his second divorce, my father has been dating a wonderful woman for over a year and a half. Recently, my mother, my father, and I all stayed at the girlfriend’s house when we were in Los Angeles. We all sat up and talked and laughed and I recall mentally stepping back and thinking, “This is so wonderfully progressive and blog-worthy”. Then everyone went to sleep and my father and I sat up and did shots of tequila and talked about how him leaving caused me to pine after unavailable men.
I kind of like the person I am, but I can’t help but wonder what I would be like if my parents stayed together. I wonder if I still would have such a jaded view of marriage. Who knows, maybe I would have become a huge mess. Maybe my parents would have hated each other and I would have a different but equally bitter view towards marriage. It’s hard to say. The only thing I know for certain is that I come from a broken home, I watched way too much TV as a kid, I’m economically disadvantaged, and I’m not religious…
….Man, am I fucked.
Do you believe in marriage? Did your parents divorce? How do you think your parents and the media helped shape your view on marriage?