Sunday, June 10, 2012

My Reaction to "Middle class trading 'I do' for 'maybe later'"

This article in the Lifestyle section of today's StarTribune has me all fired up, and since I try not to feed the comment trolls on the paper's website (they can be incredibly vicious and cruel) I decided to do a little venting here. Anyone is welcome to comment, as long as you keep the conversation civil.

Honestly, I don't know where to start with this so I'm just going to give a quote from the article and then explain why it bugs the heck out of me. Just to warn you, there are several quotes so this may be a longer post.

"Not feeling that pressure gives me the opportunity to focus on my career and have more great life experiences I might not be able to have if I was in a serious relationship." - Becca Bijoch, 25 (in response to not feeling societal pressure to marry).

Apparently, the ability to have great life experiences stops when you are in a serious relationship. What?!? While it may be more difficult to drop everything at the spur of the moment to take some crazy fun vacation or to switch cities when you are promoted/change jobs it doesn't mean you can't do those things. "Great life experiences" can be even greater because you overcome the challenges and are often even sweeter when you have someone to share them with and reminisce about them with.

"I've got about a million things to dedicate financial resources to before I can even think about buying an engagement ring or paying for a wedding," said Micheal Foley, 32, a website editor in Hudson, Wis. "Taking the best thing in the world -- love -- and turning it into a legal obligation isn't worth ruining your financial future over. I love my girlfriend and I hope to one day give her the wedding she deserves, but not at the expense of our financial well-being afterward."

Mr. Foley (and everyone else waiting to get married until they can afford a wedding), marriage is a lot more than a "legal obligation" and if you could get past the idea of spending tons of cash (so much that you could ruin your financial future) on a lavish wedding perhaps you would see that. If more people would spend the same amount of time/money/energy on looking at what their marriage is going to be like as they spend planning the perfect "wedding", marriages would be so much stronger. (And fewer people would think that their opportunity for great life experiences ends at the alter).

"These are not the 'oopsies,' the 15-year-olds who didn't know any better," said William Doherty, professor of Family Social Science at the University of Minnesota. "It's more like women are saying, 'This guy isn't marriage material, but he's good enough to have a child with, so it wouldn't be the end of the world if I got pregnant.'"

Yes, I commented about this quote on Facebook already, but I think it bears repeating (especially for those of you who can't see what I posted on Facebook. This quote just begs me to ask, really? Is that the message you want to give your kids about their dad? Oh, he wasn't good enough for me but he's okay for you. What the heck?!?

Also, a good friend brought up another good point. She said "Are ladies so spoiled that they think men have to be perfect before they marry them? Men are good enough to give 'em a baby but not anything more? And we accuse men of objectifying women?! Wow." What a great point, Nancy.

One reason is the premium that couples place on maintaining their independence, financially and psychologically.
Many see marriage more as a way to split expenses than pool resources, according to The Marriage Project study. High divorce rates tell them to plan for the worst and to be ready to support themselves if needed. -a quote made in regards to couples who wait to get married because of financial reasons

Why do people spend so much more time and energy on their contingency plans (making sure they can support themselves if the marriage doesn't work out) than they spend on making their marriages work out? I believe that part (not all, but part) of the reason there is such a high rate of divorce is because so many people are planning to fail rather than planning to succeed. Yes, marriage is work, hard work, but if you spend more time preparing to fail you are more than likely going to fail. This is true with just about anything in life.

D'Angelo (a marriage and family therapist) put it this way: "Marriage is seen less as a journey and more as a destination. And that concerns me because it is the journey and not the destination."

Okay, so this is a quote that I mostly agree with. I think TheHusband said it better though when he said "Marriage is both the journey AND the destination."

A common thread among those postponing marriage is resistance to settling for less than the ideal.
Today's young adults, raised by ever-bolstering parents, believe they can achieve what they desire if they put forth some effort, Doherty said. They see no reason to lower their expectations just because they haven't found someone who measures up.
I believe the above statement is further evidence of the ever increasing sense of entitlement we, as a society, are teaching to younger generations. There isn't anyone on the planet who is "ideal". We are all flawed human beings with cracks, bad habits, and blemishes. Can we work on those things, absolutely, but if you are waiting for someone who is "ideal" you are going to be waiting a long time. Finding someone who loves and accepts you for you (cracks, bad habits, blemishes and all) is what you should be looking for.

He worries about how easily a desire to marry post-children will be fulfilled, given the logistics of co-mingling their various attachments. -William Doherty, professor of Family Social Science at the University of Minnesota.

Many of the women highlighted in this article indicated a desire to find a husband once their children were older or grown. I too wonder how "easy" this will be for them, especially those who are still looking for the "ideal" person. If they aren't willing to bend and grow with a person now, how much harder will it be for them in 10 to 20 years when they have firmly established life patterns and beliefs? How much more difficult will those marriages be when they have to deal with blending families and traditions?

I'm going to get off my soapbox now. Getting that off my chest has been very good for me, and now I can go spend time with TheHusband without having all that stuff banging around inside my head. Thanks so much for bearing with me, and as I said before, please feel free to leave your comments.
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