Archive for the ‘divorce’ Category

Not Yet Ready for Boarding the Marriage Train

October 4, 2009 1 comment

A Washington Post conservative columnist who I had never read before wrote a piece on September 16 titled “Lost in a World Without Courtship.”

While most of the column was somewhat infuriating to me, the segment that hit closest to home goes as follows, “Later marriage has been one of the reasons for declining national divorce rates. But this does not mean the later the better. Divorce rates trend downward until leveling off in the early 20s. But people who marry after 27 tend to have less happy marriages — perhaps because partners are set in their ways or have unrealistically high standards. The marital sweet spot seems to be in the early to mid-20s.”

I’m 27, so according to Michael Gerson, I have to be married before I turn 28 (sometime in the next 7 months) in order to have a happy marriage. Here’s the problem with that argument, what if you don’t find someone you want to marry before your late 20s? Or what if you find someone and he doesn’t want to marry you? Is this writer telling me that I should have married the boyfriend I was with in my early 20s? Because I can guarantee him, with 100% certainty, that would not have worked out well.

My point, I think, is despite statistics and trends, I’m don’t believe there is a science to what makes a happy marriage, or to what makes marriage, or any relationship, fail. Every relationship I have been in, and every relationship I’ve been around is very different from the other.

To make judgments on a friend’s relationship based on your own experiences doesn’t end up working because his or her relationship will inevitably be different. The dynamic, the chemistry, the background of the individuals in the relationship, the pet peeves, the likes, the dislikes, all these things won’t ever be the a mirror of another relationship. Similarities abound, and it’s why we can have highly paid therapists, advice columnists, and talk show hosts. They all serve a purpose, but all the great advice in the world doesn’t always save a relationship.

So just like judgments don’t work on a friend-to-friend level, I don’t think they work to generalize segments of the population by age and success rate. We live in a time when the media love to use polls, charts, trends, statistics, and on and on. And that works, for crime and politics, and what TV shows are being watched. But when it comes to something like marriage, it seems to me that using numbers to make people feel bad about when they do or don’t decide to make a huge, life-altering decision doesn’t seem fair, or even morally right.

I know I don’t want to be convinced my marriage is doomed to unhappiness because I decided to live out my late 20s working, dating, and spending time with friends, most of whom, like me, aren’t jumping on the marriage train yet either. And for those friends who have walked down the aisle, they did it because they were sure it was right, not because they thought it was about time.

And while Gerson can argue that I will have it tougher because my partner may be “set in [his] ways or have unrealistically high standards,” I can argue back, that I want to be with someone who knows what he wants, and who he is. In my early 20s, I did not know a man or woman my age who had all of that figured out.

Categories: divorce, Love, marriage