Thursday, April 11, 2013

A few more thoughts about marriage

Just marriage this time and not same-sex marriage as last time.

A woman named Julia Shaw, about whom I know nothing, wrote an article about getting married young last week. A fierce rebuttal followed and, because the rebuttal came from Amanda Marcotte, the rebuttal was stupid. Fortunately, some more thoughtful people also chimed in.

Before I go on, I should say that I know a few couples who married young and the women, but not necessarily the men, all report that they received a hostile response from other women for having married young.

For that, and other reasons, I suspect that the trend towards getting married older is being driven by women. Not that they have had to drive very hard for men typically have not wanted to get married early. The natural trajectory most men imagine for their lives is a few years adventure followed by "settling down". Young men I meet today still talk in these terms. You might say that later marriage is what men have always tended to want and it has lately become what women want as well. (And a cynic might wonder who is really being served by this social change.)

But women have never seen marriage as settling down. It's always been a goal to shoot for. You can see this if you go to Pinterest: young women still sit around dreaming about their wedding. Men don't. The difference is that they now see marriage as something that follows a few years of getting settled in a career and a maybe a "starter relationship" that is serious but not marriage.

So let's get back to Amanda Marcotte. The easiest pick of a lot of low-lying fruit in her piece was this sentence:
If he's good enough to marry, he'll still be around when you're ready to make that leap.
It's with the "he" singular that Marcotte slips into the narcissism for which she is famous, although hardly unique. And she got slagged, deservedly, for that. Yeah sure, I'll just hang around six years until you're ready to get married. That is assuming you ever will be or that you don't pick someone different when the time comes.

But even if we try to save Marcotte by rewording her imbecilic argument more intelligently there are huge problems. Suppose she had said this:
There will still be lots of good men around when you're ready to make that leap.
Others have already pointed out that life will indeed be different in a few years. I thought Ann Althouse put it best: "You're free to absorb the risk that the right man at the wrong time will be in the wrong place when it's the right time." But that doesn't go far enough. Because the other consequence of getting married older is that you will change over time. Marrying a twenty-seven year old is a very different proposition from marrying a twenty-three year old and marrying a thirty-five year old is a different proposition altogether. To paraphrase Althtouse: You're also free to absorb the risk that if you're the right woman for Mr. Right at the wrong time for you, you might be in the wrong woman for  Mr. Right when it's the right time for you.

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