One-nighters and Cocktails vs. Marriage and Babies

*sniiiiiiff* Can you smell that? I can from my living room. Tuxes, cakes, flowers, crazy aunts and drunken uncles…that’s right, it’s wedding season.

Chances are very good that most of you this summer are getting married, attending a wedding, are in one, or irritated you aren’t invited to one that, damn-it, you should be.  Fortunately this year I am only participating in one (congrats Shannan & Micah!!!) and I am pleased to say I even made the cut for bridesmaid!  I’m truly honored and excited….22 days and counting. ❤

But it does make me think.  You’ve seen this meme going around, yes?


I’ve even found a Facebook group supporting the cause:

Let me preface with, I am very happy for my married/getting married/baby having friends – I do plan to be like you one day.  But as for the rest of us…is there a countermovement?  Counter-typical-life-progression?

You know what I’m talking about.  The cycle goes like this:

High school -> College (aka partying) -> Get a job (partying not happen in college? Insert partying here)   -> Get married -> Have babies

According to a myriad of studies, somewhere between 80-90% of Americans will marry.  Oh and by the way the rate of divorce is declining.  Some suggest that the rate of divorce is declining because people are trying harder (bullshit), but the most supported hypothesis follows that people are more careful in choosing a life mate and are therefore waiting longer before saying “I do.”  This is tangibly evident according to the U.S. Census Bureau, which demonstrates that the average age of those exchanging nuptials have significantly increased.  In 1960, the average age for men was 22.8 and for women, 20.3. Compare that to the latest report from 2009, with men at 28.4 and women, 26.5.

I’m not the first to speculate what is going on here. We all know that the women’s rights movement has allowed women with more career opportunities than the past, and therefore don’t require someone to take care of her financially. (Don’t celebrate yet ladies, we still make only $0.77 to every $1.00 a man makes).  Mass media depicts life other than the nuclear family, from Mary Tyler Moore to Friends to Parks and Recreation. Finally another reason can be that various forms of birth control have allowed us the ability to choose when we want to have children.

But I think a very strong, less discussed, reason we are waiting is that many of us Generation X and Y’ers grew up watching our parents’, or best friend’s parents’, messy divorces. We vowed to ourselves, “I swear to God, that will NEVER be me!”

So we react. How do we prevent divorce? Marriage is “forever,” so how do we fix what our parents messed up?

I know I reacted early when I went to a church that prescribed what the divorce-free marriage would look like.  If I went back to the Biblical roles of men and women, that is the man is the head of the household and the woman submits, then she will be taken care of and he will have the satisfaction of leadership.  Ergo, they are fulfilling their gender duties and will never divorce. I have since divorced and been exiled.

While my experience with this divorce remedy ended poorly, this church is not the only one to offer this solution, and also argue that it must have been my fault that it didn’t work out. Many bloggers and average joe’s/jane’s alike have joined in the idea that marriages in the 1950’s were the ideal of divorce free marriages. These supporters suggest that women should be less focused on themselves and their rights, and rather be sweet and submissive to men because men need respect and the leadership role. THEN marriages would work better. I suppose that’s not…entirely insane…

So there’s that solution to divorce.  But I think a more prevalent reason why we are waiting to marry is the idea that marriage brings, dum dum DUUUMMM….age.  And in an era where plastic surgery is a normal commodity, mainstream media revel in the joys that we had getting drunk on the Jersey Shore, as well as our oh-so-glorious high school and college years.  You’ve heard it, college is the “best time of your life,” right?  Well those of us over 22 are in big trouble….the best times have already been had?!

Enter the trending “quarter-life crisis.”  You know you’re old as shit when you hit 25 right?  RIGHT?!  If you didn’t, well now you do, that especially goes for you chicks.

Grasping for youth, all around me are people terrified of growing older.  I see it especially living in Southern California.  “Peter Pan” syndrome, as it has been coined, is where no one ever wants to grow up and embrace adulthood’s ostensible responsibilities.  I mean, yuck, who likes bills?

But wait!! You are fiiiiinally the one who gets to call the shots!  You get to CHOOSE what bills to take on. No teachers, professors, parents commanding your every move. What the hell is wrong with that?  Why are we so obsessed with our early 20’s? Is it the casual sex? Drunkenness? Lack of responsibility? The unknown? Sure those things can be fun, I’ll give you that.

However I argue that post-college is when the real fun begins.  You have your own spending money (hopefully).  You get to live where you want.  The mood-swings have (again, hopefully) subsided. You have options and choices and the chance to fall in love with another person.

And YOU get to choose who that is. They can be as hot as you want!  Well, and, of course smart, funny, witty, you know…but also hot!!

I’m not getting married any time soon, don’t get me wrong.  But when/if I do, that level of love and commitment, I contend, can nowhere near be rivaled by a line up of [shallow] men/women texting all day and Sex-and-the-City-esque two week “relationships.”

Yes, babies are loud, smelly, messy and sometimes kinda gross.  But I think, I THINK, they’ll be pretty fun.  Going to the zoo would be more entertaining with a toddler that’s never seen an elephant, right?  Having a little one who you get to teach whatever the hell you want?  Ooooh the possibilities…(insert plan of world domination).

One-nighters and cocktails are fun. The latter of which I am the first to say is a great way to spend an evening out.  But the giant M-word is not something we need to fear, and no it doesn’t automatically make you old and dead to the fun part of the world.  So to that, congratulations to all of you who this summer will take on a new Mr. or Mrs. you.

But as for me, whether babies, marriage, one-nighters (haha, no) or cocktails are in my future, I can honestly say that the greatest times are yet to come.  I’m 28 dammit. Whether you consider that young or old, it really doesn’t matter because the truth is, I’m only getting more awesome.


About jonierdmann
Ask thoughtful questions. Challenge tradition. Refuse to accept things are the way they are.

3 Responses to One-nighters and Cocktails vs. Marriage and Babies

  1. Dave says:

    Joni – Some also believe that a dip in divorce rate might be due to the economy, with the cost of divorce being more prohibitive and the financial incentive to stay together being stronger.

  2. jonierdmann says:

    I completely agree with you Dave. This wasn’t meant to be an exhaustive list, just focusing on one or two ideas i’ve noticed as of late 🙂

  3. Erich Erdmann says:

    The keys to me are setting goals in the main areas of life. Without goals, we are lost. Period. The main areas of life are: spirituality, relationships, physical being, intellectual being, career and, yes, financial state. You have to constantly focus and get better (or as life teaches us, you are getting worse) at all 6 areas. Most people focus on things that don’t matter (e.g. me being a sports fan- guilty pleasure alert!).
    I believe your conclusion is correct, Joni: your best times are yet to come if you focus on those main 6. : )
    Now about the economy, that idiot Obama should have…

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