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Sappy, Unsexy, and Anachronistic
July 13, 2009 5:38 PM   Subscribe


 
He's trolling, right?
posted by thirteenkiller at 5:46 PM on July 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Maybe they should get a cat and declaw it?
posted by dinty_moore at 5:49 PM on July 13, 2009


getoffmylawn/

Back in my day ...

/getoffmylawn
posted by EatTheWeak at 5:59 PM on July 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hey, I've got an idea --

How about if NOBODY pressures ANYONE to do ANYTHING they don't want, NO MATTER WHAT IT IS?

Marry early if you want, marry late if you want, don't marry if you want, whatever, and leave other people alone if they do something different. That way no one feels pressure to do stuff they don't want, and everyone's happy. Well, maybe cranky columnists wouldn't have material, but hey, if Andy Rooney can get a column out of his junk mail, anyone else can find something...
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:04 PM on July 13, 2009 [18 favorites]


This seems especially absurd to me given that I'm 24, from an extremely socially liberal/"modern-minded" social network, and I can name at least a dozen couples I know who got engaged by their early-20s. None of whom I have ever heard referred to negatively by our peers for doing so. The bigger scandals are about taking your husband's name when you do marry him at 23.
posted by Tomorrowful at 6:09 PM on July 13, 2009


(Say what you will about the benefits of cohabitation, it's a categorically less stable arrangement, far more prone to division than marriage.)

So, a disadvantage of cohabitation would be that when someone wants to walk away, they can...?

Overall, this reads like someone doing a really bad Andy Rooney impression.
posted by rollbiz at 6:10 PM on July 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


FTA:
Michigan State ecologists estimate that the extra households created by divorce cost the nation 73 billion kilowatt hours of electricity and more than 600 billion gallons of water in a year. That's a mighty big carbon footprint created in the name of solitude.

So, the grid would be more stable if we were to make sure we'd wait for the right person to marry? Seems to me a bunch of early marriages with the first person you're into is just going to cause massive grid fluctuations. The blackouts then lead to the standard spike in birthrate, as dictated by urban legend, meaning that the new people use more resources.

Maybe we should just have the government assign us a roommate or "divorce-buddy" to deal with this problem.
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:10 PM on July 13, 2009


Won't somebody please think of the kilowatts!
posted by Phssthpok at 6:14 PM on July 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


I think this article was ghostwritten by my mom.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:16 PM on July 13, 2009 [27 favorites]


This reminds me of a conversation I had with my dad a little over two years ago, when I was going to move off to DC for law cshool, and it looked like me (now) ex-girlfriend would be moving with me.

"So," he said, "are you two planing on co-habitating?" It was clear he was keeping himself from uttering the phrase living together.

"Yup," I said. Or some approximation meant to convey not disrespect, but that this was not a scandalous idea in my time. He was nonetheless undeterred.

"Why don't y'all just get married?"

I don't remember how I answered him, but I think that, now, he's happy that we didn't.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:23 PM on July 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Where did people get this idea that you should "focus on your career" and hold off on relationships as being sensible or even plausible? I hear lots of people making claims that they are too busy with work or school to have relationships, etc. and so they'll just have casual sex or no sex.

But it seems to me that having a good, solid relationship is far more conducive to focusing than having a bunch of up and down flings, "friends with benefits" or no sex at all. If you are going to have any sex at all, there's a risk of "catching feelings" or of having the other person do so-- if you are going to avoid it entirely, that's pretty distracting, too.

So, why, if you turn out to fall in love in college, would it make any sense at all to throw that away in the name of some obscure focus that isn't really maintainable as a human being prone to emotions whether you want them or not? Do real people actually do this or is this "I'm going to focus on work/ school and wait" just something people say when they aren't that into you?
posted by Maias at 6:27 PM on July 13, 2009 [8 favorites]


How about stick this guy in the Thunderdome with Sandra Tsing Loh and let them sort it out.
posted by Dr-Baa at 6:29 PM on July 13, 2009 [17 favorites]


How about if NOBODY pressures ANYONE to do ANYTHING they don't want, NO MATTER WHAT IT IS?

Don't pressure me not pressure people.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:31 PM on July 13, 2009 [5 favorites]


Yeah. Put a "we" in that comment someplace. I'll let you decide where.
posted by Dr-Baa at 6:32 PM on July 13, 2009


So, why, if you turn out to fall in love in college, would it make any sense at all to throw that away in the name of some obscure focus that isn't really maintainable as a human being prone to emotions whether you want them or not?

People actually do this. I thought I had important things to do before I got married, and I didn't want to start compromising before I felt like I'd really started my life.

I was less wise in college than I am now, and I still ain't all that wise.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 6:32 PM on July 13, 2009


The root cause of this generation's ambivalence toward marriage is the fact that marriage is the leading cause of divorce.
posted by mullingitover at 6:33 PM on July 13, 2009 [6 favorites]


So, why, if you turn out to fall in love in college, would it make any sense at all to throw that away in the name of some obscure focus that isn't really maintainable as a human being prone to emotions whether you want them or not? Do real people actually do this or is this "I'm going to focus on work/ school and wait" just something people say when they aren't that into you?

Yes. I have given up relationships because of school and I know many others who have too. My parents always said that school should always come first and I believed it.

In hindsight, I don't exactly regret it either. When I was 21 I had very different values and interests than I do now. I wonder if I either wouldn't have developed these if I had stayed with him or we would have grown apart because of them. The years between 20 and 25 seems to be full of changes for most people. I didn't stop having relationships, I just gave them up when presented with work/graduate school/etc. across the world. I guess if we had truly been in love the relationship would have survived, as my current long distance one is. A lot of people wonder why I didn't move to Finland for the BF, but I got a killer job offer and I figure if things are truly meant to be...things will work out. I'm not going to jump into marriage in these years of change.

I'm all for committed relationships, but I am very glad I didn't get married to any of the people I dated then. They wouldn't like me now, that's for sure.
posted by melissam at 6:37 PM on July 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


This article implicitly defines marriage as between a man and a woman (actually, between a boy and a girl), and is therefore disvalidated in my purview.

And his supposed young men & women that lament "marriage as the death of youth, freedom and their ability to do as they please" are actually straw men & women.
posted by jabberjaw at 6:43 PM on July 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


You know, I should start actively trying to write articles for sale to newspapers and magazines. I can do better than this guy, and he got published.
posted by orange swan at 6:46 PM on July 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I always said I'd get married when I didn't have anything else better to do. Considering I'm almost 37, I have a house, a daughter, a decent job and I'm still single, looks like that's holding true. Although I did recently meet a man I figure I could probably marry with no qualms and that's a surprise to me.
posted by PuppyCat at 6:52 PM on July 13, 2009


I'll bet that Myra Gale Brown feels soooooo vindicated by this.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:54 PM on July 13, 2009


Maybe they should get a cat and declaw it?

Nah, that's at least as cruel as marrying your college girlfriend.
posted by lumpenprole at 6:58 PM on July 13, 2009


According to data from the government's National Survey of Family Growth, women who marry at 18 have a better shot at making a marriage work than men who marry at 21. There is wisdom in having an age gap between spouses. For women, age is (unfortunately) a debit, decreasing fertility. For men, age can be a credit, increasing their access to resources and improving their maturity, thus making them more attractive to women.

Oh awesome - women are always more mature than men. Sadly, they become increasingly worthless with age - women don't gain access to resources or become more mature like men do, and if they did, it wouldn't make them attractive! Ha.


But what really matters for making marriage happen and then making it good are not matches, but mentalities

The answer is therefore arranged marriage. People should just stop bothering to date already. Grab the nearest man/woman, and work at it.


Michigan State ecologists estimate that the extra households created by divorce cost the nation 73 billion kilowatt hours of electricity and more than 600 billion gallons of water in a year. That's a mighty big carbon footprint created in the name of solitude. Marriage may not make you rich -- that's not its purpose -- but a biblical proverb reveals this nifty side effect: "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work."

Awesome - a compelling case for gay marriage. Particularly since gay marriages don't produce the kids that would negate all that electricity and water you'd be saving.


my applause goes out to those among them who've figured out that the proverb was right.

It's funny how social science keeps proving the bible right.
posted by catchingsignals at 7:03 PM on July 13, 2009 [5 favorites]


FTA: There is wisdom in having an age gap between spouses. For women, age is (unfortunately) a debit, decreasing fertility. For men, age can be a credit, increasing their access to resources and improving their maturity, thus making them more attractive to women. We may all dislike this scenario, but we can't will it away.

This is freedom, an unavoidable "optimum" scenario? I think he does not understand the word. He's loaded the article with necessities and the burdens of the world, to be saved by getting married young(er).

This is not freedom: this is imagined necessity.

what really matters for making marriage happen and then making it good are not matches, but mentalities: such things as persistent and honest communication, conflict-resolution skills, the ability to handle the cyclical nature of so much of marriage, and a bedrock commitment to the very unity of the thing. I've met 18-year-olds who can handle it and 45-year-olds who can't.

Nothing in common? No worries, as long as you can communicate about the meals and who picks up little Bobby from school! Thinking of divorce as an easy out? Well, I know teenagers who would out-last you in this situation! Take that, bucko!

Why not push people to expand their family units, keeping extended families under one roof? That would save on a LOT of things. Don't worry about daycare for the little ones: you have your parents around to take care of that. No driving across the country to see Grandma and Grandpa, they live with you! There are lots of other ways to save the world, besides keeping unhappy couples together.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:25 PM on July 13, 2009


women's "market value" declines steadily as they age, while men's tends to rise in step with their growing resources

And that's where I stopped reading. And, I'll confess, scrolled back up to confirm my suspicions that this was written by the half whose "market value" increases with age. And I wasn't disappointed! Indeed, a man... a professor, from my own state (alas), whose personal website is entitled Forbidden Fruit: Sex & Religion in the Lives of American Teenagers. Sidebar gives a testimonial from a minister, who starts with, "I've waited for this book my entire ministry."

His wife, whom he names on his "About" page, has no web presence except Facebook, so maybe I'm making a rash assumption, but I'm guessing she sits home with her children and wishes for the days when she had a better "market value."
posted by Houstonian at 7:31 PM on July 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


Check out this smackdown from the WaPo comments -

This is a moral argument thinly disguised with junk science, and as a fellow sociologist, I'm ashamed.

The worst part is the author's assertion that "men can get married anytime they want" but women need to find a partner young, or else they'll become un-marriageable. That's pretty much mathematically impossible. The percentage of men and women in the general population is roughly 50/50, while men do tend to die a little younger than women, in the cohort of people between 20-40 the ratio of men to women is pretty close to 1/1. SOME women in their 20s and 30s pass up guys their own age to date much older men but MOST women in their 20s date men in their 20s and so on.....

That huge glut of men that waited until they were in their mid-forties or later to settle down and then go looking for "fertile women" in their late 20s early 30s will mostly meet with disappointment. Some, especially the very good looking, smart or successful, will snag a much younger women, but most will lose out to the single 20/30 something guys. Women who find themselves single at 35 can have children as single moms, but that's harder for men.

What we'll really start to see is not "every man will have a wife, but all you girls who waited too long will die alone" (which is demographically impossible, where are all of those extra women supposed to be coming from??) but rather a trend wherein more women in their late 30s give up on finding a husband and choose to become single moms and more and more men are left out in the cold marriage and family-wise.

posted by EatTheWeak at 7:37 PM on July 13, 2009 [8 favorites]


I could've married the guy I was dating at 21. He was about to pop the question when I broke up with him.

We'd be so divorced now.

But hey, I would have found a buyer at the peak of my "market value" so, you know...wait. "Market value"? Did he seriously say women have a "market value"?

Christ, what an asshole.
posted by emjaybee at 7:39 PM on July 13, 2009 [17 favorites]


Why not push people to expand their family units, keeping extended families under one roof?

You know, people are always saying this sort of thing. The "extended family" is the solution to the American family dilemma. "Back in my day, yadda yadda yadda..." "Thats what people do in other countries do, yadda yadda yadda..."

But then you don't see massive amounts of people jumping on the "extended family" bandwagon. I wonder why that is?

Oh yeah, because it means living with your parents again. D'oh!
posted by Afroblanco at 7:41 PM on July 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


Where did people get this idea that you should "focus on your career" and hold off on relationships as being sensible or even plausible?

Maybe people just don't want long-term relationships, or want other things more, at that point in their lives? Relationships aren't the only thing that make life worthwhile.


But it seems to me that having a good, solid relationship is far more conducive to focusing than having a bunch of up and down flings, "friends with benefits" or no sex at all. If you are going to have any sex at all, there's a risk of "catching feelings" or of having the other person do so-- if you are going to avoid it entirely, that's pretty distracting, too.

Surely there are many people who focus better when they're not in a relationship. Relationship takes work, as many are so fond of saying. People are different, and so want different things, and benefit from different things.


So, why, if you turn out to fall in love in college, would it make any sense at all to throw that away in the name of some obscure focus that isn't really maintainable as a human being prone to emotions whether you want them or not?

Why's it an obscure focus? Maybe what they choose to pursue instead of relationships is what genuinely makes them happier. Maybe work or study makes them happier and more fulfilled, at least at that point in their lives.

If you're not ready, you're not ready. How much worse would it be to settle down, maybe have kids, then find yourself resenting your family for the experiences you didn't get to have in your youth? Doesn't it seem better to have more life experiences first, so that you can truly devote yourself to a committed relationship later if that's what you want - when you're ready? Doesn't it seem better to do it when you know yourself better, having had the time to mature as a person?

I know finding someone you can be happily in love with is rare and to be treasured - I imagine if you were genuinely in love with someone and had to make that choice between them and work/school... it would be a terrible choice to have to make. But, we also tell people that there is plenty of fish in the sea, for a reason. Not saying either choice is right or better - just that it's understandable, whichever way.

Or, what EmpressCallipygos said.
posted by catchingsignals at 7:48 PM on July 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


This

But according to social psychologists Roy Baumeister and Kathleen Vohs, women's "market value" declines steadily as they age, while men's tends to rise in step with their growing resources (that is, money and maturation).

and this

Marrying men and women were separated by an average of more than four years in 1890 and about 2.5 years in 1960.


don't really jibe here unless this guys is just spewing out statistics in a vain attempt to reassure himself he did not miss out on anything because he married at 22.


And finally,

Michigan State ecologists estimate that the extra households created by divorce cost the nation 73 billion kilowatt hours of electricity and more than 600 billion gallons of water in a year. That's a mighty big carbon footprint created in the name of solitude.

The answer is staring him right in the face and he does not see it - Don't get married, so you will never get divorced and create this horrible carbon footprint.
posted by batou_ at 7:52 PM on July 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know, I think the reason why a lot of men get married later in life is because it takes time for some of us to figure out what women want. Some guys have a head start on this, while others have painfully lonely adolescences that leave them bereft in this regard. I wonder why nobody ever brings that up in these conversations.
posted by Sloop John B at 7:55 PM on July 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Another quality smackdown, this one straight from the post and published the day after Regnerus' piece ran.
posted by EatTheWeak at 8:00 PM on July 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


I have market value now? What the fuck?
posted by zinfandel at 8:24 PM on July 13, 2009


My IRA is way down, but according to this article, I've got "market value"! YAHOO!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:26 PM on July 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, that made me want to kill myself. Goodnight.
posted by millipede at 8:43 PM on July 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


But then you don't see massive amounts of people jumping on the "extended family" bandwagon. I wonder why that is?

Oh yeah, because it means living with your parents again. D'oh!


Not to mention I'm not so sure my Mom and Dad would trade their lovely house and active social life for a poorly paid babysitting job and a room in my basement.
posted by fshgrl at 8:44 PM on July 13, 2009


This message -- that as I age, my "market value" decreases, while those of men my age only increases -- is one that I hear over and OVER AND OVER again. I'm 36, and it's started really doing a number on me these past couple of years. I never believed I'd fall prey to that women's magazine bullshit, but here I am, whimpering in therapy about my worthlessness. Which is total baloney, because I am awesome. (And humble.)

Luckily, the world around me doesn't reflect that "decreased market value" message much. I just have to shut my ears to it, and open my eyes.
posted by chowflap at 9:06 PM on July 13, 2009


Speaking of bull**** markets...
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:11 PM on July 13, 2009


I dunno. I think all this talk about "market value" really just hides the truth of the matter -- that life is all about sacrifices. By getting married young or choosing not to, both men and women make certain sacrifices. I don't think there's anything wrong in pointing that out. Anything worth having is worth sacrificing for.

But what I think this article presumes, and what I think is making people upset, is the presumption that people are naturally unhappy with their sacrifices. If someone chooses career over family, who is to say that they will necessarily regret that decision? Last I checked, becoming a parent has a net-neutral (or slightly negative) effect on your overall happiness. Sure, "proud parents" will say that they really are happier, that the true rewards of parenting are unquantifiable and are thus absent from the surveys of the social scientist. But really, that's just coded speech for, "Yes, I made a sacrifice, but I am happy with it." Once again, absolutely nothing wrong with putting that out in the open.

Do people sometimes regret their choices? Sure! But I don't think that constantly worrying about "which I will regret more" is any way to live your life.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:23 PM on July 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


It stood out to me that if the people this guy is thinking about did get married in college they would probably have ended up having kids right smack in the middle of the biggest recession since the Great Depression, while perhaps getting laid off and having bought a house immediately before the housing market crashed and their mortgage and credit card companies went feral.
posted by XMLicious at 9:30 PM on July 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


Is the point of marriage soley to produce children? Does that mean people need to take fertility tests before they marry? Should marriages with post-menopausal women be banned/annulled?

I've heard this argument before, and I just don't get it.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 10:30 PM on July 13, 2009


"solely" -- sheesh.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 10:32 PM on July 13, 2009


Well...hmmm. My market value has decreased? I rather think it's appreciated, much like fine wine and good pearls.
posted by dejah420 at 11:16 PM on July 13, 2009



I think of my boyfriend, when I was twenty three
I am so very thankful that he never married me
not because I needed any more time to mature
not because my career prospects were still so unsure

but because he was a poophead
posted by Catch at 11:17 PM on July 13, 2009 [8 favorites]


wait. "Market value"? Did he seriously say women have a "market value"?

$20, same as in town.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:14 AM on July 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


...but joking aside, here's a coincidentally related article from the Sydney Morning Herald:

Love and loathing ... 2500 couples reveal clues: Opposites attract or so the saying goes. But a new study suggests this may not be the key to a long-lasting marriage.

Academics from the Australian National University tracked the relationships and characteristics of nearly 2500 couples between 2001 and 2007.

They found the factors that increased the likelihood of marriage breakdown included differences in age, desire for children, work, alcohol and smoking.

posted by UbuRoivas at 12:17 AM on July 14, 2009


It stood out to me that if the people this guy is thinking about did get married in college they would probably have ended up having kids right smack in the middle of the biggest recession since the Great Depression, while perhaps getting laid off and having bought a house immediately before the housing market crashed and their mortgage and credit card companies went feral.

That's a very apt point. What the author, and a lot of people in this thread, appear to have completely & totally ignored in the whole "marry younger or older?" question is that working conditions are fundamentally different today than they were in our parents' time.

It's not as if you focus on education & career first just because you, idunno, like them more as a matter of personal taste or something, or that it's even an either-or question in the first place.

Marriage & kids pretty much require a good (or at least, stable) economic foundation & prospects. But now that jobs-for-life is an anachronistic concept, and with people increasingly working in unpredictable contractual situations with almost no loyalty from most employers, it has become not a personal preference to pursue education & career, but a serious necessity.

Throw in the fact that the housing market has ballooned in such a way as to make anything beyond the humblest apartment almost beyond the reach of most people, well, it means that people take a look at their budgets & work prospects, and increasingly decide that it's simply not economically feasible to entertain serious thoughts about starting a family.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:29 AM on July 14, 2009 [5 favorites]


Just... ugh.
posted by CPAGirl at 5:59 AM on July 14, 2009


Getting married to a sane person beats having your mother howl and sob at you over the phone early Sunday morning from halfway around the world.
posted by anniecat at 6:49 AM on July 14, 2009


Me and ma' girlfriend have talked about this a lot. We're leaning towards getting married, despite our youth. I realize the pressure to get married is high for some, depending on family, but for us there has been an utter lack of enthusiasm or joy when we tell people what we are considering. Who is anyone to judge my personal prospects with doom and gloom and downright disgust? The stigma against getting married young appears to come mostly from careerist urges of my own and past generations, something I'm more than happy to throw overboard (Do one thing for the rest of my life? No thanks.), but something that others cling to (evidenced by UbuRoivas comment).

[...] it has become not a personal preference to pursue education & career, but a serious necessity. [...] Throw in the fact that the housing market has ballooned in such a way as to make anything beyond the humblest apartment almost beyond the reach of most people, well, it means that people take a look at their budgets & work prospects, and increasingly decide that it's simply not economically feasible to entertain serious thoughts about starting a family.

I understand this. I really do. It's not like I'm not afraid. I'm just not letting this fear override my urge to have a family. For you it does, and that's fine, but don't impose your fears on others as if they don't understand (not that I think you are, but many people do). And you'd better be doubly sure that you're not just using that as an excuse (not that I think you are, but many people do).

Also, even the "Brazen Careerist" Penelope Trunk says Get married first, then focus on career (That is, if getting married and having a family is something you want to do.). She also says Want to have a baby? Now's the time.

She boils it down to this:

Women who want to have kids should make it a high priority in their early twenties to find a partner. This week's Newsweek cover story, Marriage by the Numbers, says is okay to wait until after 35 to get married. Newsweek is revising the saying that a woman has more chance of getting hit by a truck than getting married after age 35.

But the article ignores one of the most pressing issues facing Generation X: Infertility. No generation of women has had more trouble with fertility than this generation who received the terrible advice, "Wait. You have time. Focus on your career first."

In fact, you have your whole life to get a career. This is not true about having a baby.

Even if you are past your early twenties, or not heterosexual, if you're single and want to have kids with a partner, you need to find one now. Take that career drive and direct it toward mating because your career skills will outlast your ovaries.

posted by symbollocks at 6:51 AM on July 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


There really isn't any conclusive evidence that fewer people are married now than they were in the past, or that "kids today" aren't getting married as quickly as people "in the past". Sure, if we compare marriage rates now to those of, say, the post-WWII period, we can point to a sharp decline (something like 68% of adults were married then compared to somewhere around 54% now), but that's because post-WWII saw a marriage boom unrivaled in the history of the US. I think I read that the marriage rate in 1900 was around the same as it is today.

That being said, I got married to my college sweetheart at the age of 24, and so did most of my friends who met a companion in college. The ones who didn't meet someone they felt was marriageable SURPRISE! didn't get married.
posted by muddgirl at 7:40 AM on July 14, 2009


Perhaps the author made an incorrect conclusion from the data. Maybe the reason anyone's "market value" goes down as they age is just a reflection that people who are marriage-minded have all already gotten married? So as the population of single people ages and marries off, it trends to be less marriage minded? Or, less marriage capable? And that the freedom and relative prosperity of modern times allows people to not *have* to get married just to be able to survive?

Ancedotal data- I'm approaching my mid-30s. People in my age group, in my experience, who are single and looking for a long term relationship tend to not have that in their personalities. Weird assumptions, selfish, etc.

I didn't like the idea of separating out the sexes at all in this article. Each sex is equally capable of being unattractive toward the marrying kind. It just fosters the idea that women are blameless because they can't find the right man, and that men are responsible because they have free reign to choose women from the marketplace. Its equally offensive to both sexes.
posted by gjc at 8:18 AM on July 14, 2009


The thought that "get married" is something you have to hurry iike it's some kind of game of musical chairs you don't want to lose depresses the fuck out of me.

Yes, age matters if you want to have children - whether you're a woman or a man. There is a window.

But how do you force these things? I thought it was supposed to be about love? How do you force love?

Sometimes people don't find someone they love enough to want to settle down with till there forties, fifties. What then? Are they doing it wrong?

So you always wanted to have children, but didn't get to before your "window" has passed. Such is life. There are still a million other ways to contribute to the world and live a fulfilling life.

If you really still want to take care of children, there are millions of children in the world who need to be cared for. You can adopt. Or you can help other parents take care of their kids. Or just contribute to the world in a million other ways, improve the world for the kids that are here.

The world is not short of children. What do you think gay people and people who can't have children do?

Instead it's ohmigodpanicpanicpanicgottagetmarriedgottahavebabiesifeveryonedoesn'tgetmarriedandhavebabiessocietyanddemocracywillcollapse!!!

The article is full of judgement and disdain: "So while many young Americans mark their days in the usual ways -- by hitting the clubs, incessantly checking Facebook, Twittering their latest love interest and obsessing about their poor job prospects or how to get into graduate school" - maybe they're trying to learn about themselves and grow as people, you prick - together with a persecution complex that's completely out of touch with reality. We don't live in a world where people, particularly women, feel pressure not to get married. What planet do you live on? "It wasn't religion that made her do it. It wasn't fear of being alone. It was simply affection." Said oh-so-sourly. Good for them! Most of us would be happy for them, even as we worry a little that they haven't had enough life experience or maturity to quite know what they want for the long-term yet. But good luck to them!

I'm the "sappy"-est person I know by a mile. But most people I find don't even really mature or know themselves till their late twenties. Don't you think they might make better decisions about marriage and be better parents then? Because I know the next article you write is going to be about the awful terrible rate of divorce and breakdown of the family. And you are going to blame the very people you pushed to marry early for some moral failing when it doesn't work out.

If people want to marry, let them marry. If not, let them be. If people want to divorce, it wasn't to be, and let them divorce. Just because we don't all do exactly the same thing doesn't mean society is going to collapse. Let people be. It's okay.
posted by catchingsignals at 8:19 AM on July 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


Bah! This guy's an idiot.

As a female who married for the first (and only time) at 39 all I can say is that I waited until I met someone that I wanted to marry.

There are so many dumb reasons that people get married: I'm lonely, I'm poor, I'm tired of dating, I want my own house, I don't want people to think that I can't get a spouse, I want to have children and I don't want to do it alone, We're pregnant and I might as well, We've dated for X amount of time and we have to shit or get off the pot, I want a pretty ring and a big party with ME as the star of it all. I could go on.

I think the reason that I'm so happily married is because I dote on my husband. I think he hung the moon. Sure we annoy each other at times, sure there are hard times, but at the end of the day we really like each other, really love each other and the rest of it can sort itself out.

Sometimes you're lucky and you meet the right person for you when you're young. Sometimes you have to sift through a lot of people who aren't right until you do meet the right one.

My friend Joe says, "You get what you settle for."

Truer words were never spoken.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:07 AM on July 14, 2009


Hey, I understand the whole "your ovaries have a shelf life" argument. Just not as an argument for marriage. It's a great argument for single motherhood at a young age, though.

I mean, it's true, you have more energy to take care of and chase kids when you're 21-25, if that's what you want to do. Roping some dude into it who you would not otherwise marry just to have them makes no sense. Sperm banks and turkey basters are a lot easier and won't involve any lawyer fees to dispose of. Add in some public daycare assistance and flexible work time and hey presto, women are having their babies young and fulfilling all their dreams without being stuck in bad marriages! And men aren't being guilted into marrying just so their girlfriend can have the kids she wants! Everyone wins, right?

But for some reason, proposing this idea just makes people lose their minds. Which tells me all I need to know about their real motivations in wanting women to marry and reproduce at a younger age.
posted by emjaybee at 11:37 AM on July 14, 2009


And men aren't being guilted into marrying just so their girlfriend can have the kids she wants! Everyone wins, right?

Except men who want children when their girlfriend's don't...

But I do agree that I'm always baffled when getting married and raising a child are presented as equivalent ideas (ie, that marriage is a necessary condition for child rearing, and child rearing is the only reason to get married). Haven't we moved past that archaic concept yet?
posted by muddgirl at 11:50 AM on July 14, 2009


Sperm banks and turkey basters are a lot easier and won't involve any lawyer fees to dispose of. Add in some public daycare assistance and flexible work time and hey presto, women are having their babies young and fulfilling all their dreams without being stuck in bad marriages!

Ok, I'll bite. The reason this makes people lose their minds is that you're asking for the benefits that a marriage would provide (another person, essentially) without the marriage itself. And you're asking the government to fill in. I aint got no problem with single motherhood. I've got a problem when people are premeditating such things with the expectation of government assistance (that's what it sounds like you're proposing when you say "public daycare assistance and flexible work time"). If you want to raise a child alone, duh, it's probably going to be harder than raising it with another person. Do you see that as a horrible injustice or something? I'm not sure I get your point...
posted by symbollocks at 1:37 PM on July 14, 2009


"One thing's not said too much, but I think it's true.
They just get married 'cause there's nothin' else to do, so...

I'm just sittin' on a fence.
You can say I got no sense.
Tryin' to make up my mind, really is too horrifyin'.
So I'm sittin' on a fence."

- Nanker Felge
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:35 PM on July 14, 2009


I understand this. I really do. It's not like I'm not afraid. I'm just not letting this fear override my urge to have a family. For you it does, and that's fine, but don't impose your fears on others as if they don't understand (not that I think you are, but many people do). And you'd better be doubly sure that you're not just using that as an excuse (not that I think you are, but many people do).

Speaking for myself, that perceived need for some kind of economic stability is one factor amongst many (sometimes interrelated) that have combined to make me still unmarried in my mid-30s (and not, by the way, more than the very tiniest bit concerned about that fact).

Maybe I've just chosen less-than ideal partners, and have certainly persisted far too long in relationships that were never going to be long-long-term, and which should've been nipped in the bud much earlier.

But the main thing I'm trying to counter is the author's glib assumption that (married) couples & families are so much more 'efficient' economically than other living arrangements. Hell, my share household would be about as efficient as any family, except that we each do our own separate loads of laundry (using off-peak electricity & a very efficient washer with cold or only partially warm water, the net cost would be around $100/yr more than doing combined loads).

But back to the main point...if marriage-like living is more efficient, I think it's only marginally so, and only in a micro sense (like laundry, or perhaps more shared meals).

For more macro things, it can arguably be even more of a strain - try going out with somebody who's unemployed for a long period & tell me I'm wrong. So, things like unemployment, going back to school, job changes, work-related travel or relocation and so on - these kinds of things affect both parties, and can easily lead to a net result that makes you worse off than being single. And these are the realities of today's job market: the only certainty is uncertainty, and that can be a difficult kind of thing to plan a future around.

Ideally, these are things that - as a couple - you should be able to make intelligent decisions about, and work through together, so that in the end you collectively come out the other side stronger & better than before, but it would be wrong to assume that the mere fact of being married automatically makes everything so much better & more resilient & more efficient, by default. In fact, those kinds of strains are exactly the things that often cause couples to split apart.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:01 PM on July 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


OK, this guy got married at age 22. Therefore, everybody else in America should get married at age 22.

Hey, science proves that this is the only sensible course.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 8:56 PM on July 14, 2009


Which raises the next question: Is the Washington Post actively trying to chase away readers? I can get my Minimum Daiiy Requirement of stupid off the internet, and for free.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 8:58 PM on July 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


try going out with somebody who's unemployed for a long period & tell me I'm wrong. So, things like unemployment, going back to school, job changes, work-related travel or relocation and so on - these kinds of things affect both parties, and can easily lead to a net result that makes you worse off than being single.

Try it? I married the guy who was living with me rent-free for 6 months between jobs (grad school positions, actually).

We are undeniably better off together than if we'd maintained separate accounts. Sure, I may be slightly worse off if I look at my month-to-month budget, but since we got married his low income knocks me down a whole tax bracket. Additionally, two people can save twice as much money in the good times in preparation for one person having a bad time. Roommates aren't going to pool their emergency funds the way married couples can.
posted by muddgirl at 6:45 AM on July 15, 2009


Should have taken out that last "married".
posted by muddgirl at 6:45 AM on July 15, 2009


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