Expectations on Marriage May Be Outdated

Isabel Best

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As the world begins to modernize, so do ideas on marriage. In the United States, marriage rates have reached the lowest rate in around 150 years. This has become a common worldwide trend: according to a study conducted by the United Nations, four-fifths of the 100 countries surveyed had experienced decreases in number of individuals getting married. But is this such a bad thing? What is the effect of this decrease in marriages?

People associate that ‘typical’ households have both parents who are married, but as times begin to change, are these even typical households? According to the 2016 Census, two parent households are still the majority totaling up to 68%, but they’re down considerably from 1950 which was 93%.

Personally, I don’t think a married couple makes a family, and my goal in life is not marriage. While this may be other’s goal, and there is nothing wrong with that, to me it seems obsolete.

“I don’t think marriage is societies business. I’m happy to see that we’re entering an era that respects people’s choice to choose whom to love and when to love them. I didn’t get married until I was 50, and it’s still proven to be difficult; I think people should be able to receive help to manage their expectations of marriage. You have to want to be respected and want respect someone else, you have to have trust and want to trust someone else, and you have to want to be loved to want to love someone else. You have to be ready,” said English teacher, Mrs. Lewis.

I grew up with married parents, and while they were married, their relationship was anything from what is stereotypically considered as a married couple. But for me, I watched my father become sick with kidney failure and then watched my mother lose all of her retirement money from paying hospital bills. Why? Because they’re married, and if my father went bankrupt, so would my mom. Maybe if I lived in a different country, like Denmark, which has free healthcare and education, I might consider marriage. But in the United States, which has an economy essentially set up to put people in debt unless they’re healthy and affluent, a normal marriage to me seems like too big of a risk as of right now.

Women and men aren’t expected to ‘wait for marriage’ anymore either (while I do know this is still done, it isn’t as enforced as it used to be). And with the sexual liberation in the 70’s and the invention of birth control and contraceptives, sex culture has completely evolved. So, I think with the changes in sex culture, most relationships progress without feeling the need to wait. I still think there is an unrealistic expectation on marriage. Being that only around half of all marriages end up working, there is a chance that even if you get married, it won’t work. While there are many that do, people change, and for me it’s all too scary. My opinions may change if I were to meet ‘Mr. Right’ or maybe move to Canada, but as of right now, I’m more focused on myself and becoming who I want to be.

“One day maybe I’d like to be married, but as of right now it’s not something I think about all the time. If I’m thinking about starting a family I’d personally like to be married, but I think that you don’t have to be married to have a family. I think it’s really outdated to feel as if married parents make a family,” said senior Christian Zehner.

But, I respect if marriage and children are part of your goals although it might not be mine, it is still a common goal.   

“I have a huge family and I’m extremely close with all of them. If I am going to live the life I want, I feel as though I need to be a mother and raise my children the way I was. It would also be really special to me if I got the chance to experience it with somebody I love,” said senior, Julia Labadie.

As things in the United States change and people continuously challenge social norms, it’ll probably become more common to see fewer people becoming married and especially having children. I understand that, and while I don’t fully understand having marriage as a goal in life, I can respect it.