Remember a time when being unmarried by twenty-four was considered spinsterhood? Girls were engaged at sixteen and bore their first child by eighteen. It seemed as though there was this profound urgency to settle down and create a family back then. Flash forward to the twenty first century and it seems as though the bracket for settling down is becoming wider. I’ve never given marriage much thought. I was never the girl who fantasied about my wedding dress or which flavor wedding cake I should choose.
It’s not that I don’t believe in marriage, it’s just I’ve never pictured that life for myself. But now that I’m heading into my mid 20’s, it seems as though I cannot escape the topic of marriage. Most of my friends are either engaged or married and some have already had their first child. Not to mention, whenever I’m flipping channels there seems to be nothing on but Bridezillas or Say Yes to the Dress. Am I going insane or is the universe trying to tell me something?
One in five adults (42 million) by the age of twenty-five, have never been married. Statistics show that number increasing annually. In 1960, merely a quarter of that number (9%) in that age range had never been married. Glancing at the numbers, it’s a slightly eerie percentage. But perhaps my insecurities don’t lie within the percentage but rather the notion of the topic. Many people have this image of how the quintessential life should be, with marriage and children being the epicenter of the illustration.
I wasn’t raised on those beliefs which is probably why I do not feel the need to obtain them. My mother married when she was twenty-five and gave birth to my brother two years later. Her marriage didn’t last long, resulting in separation merely four years after I was born. For the majority of my life, I grew up without a father. Perhaps that has clouded my outlook on marriage just slightly, which is why I never found the urgency to settle down. Then again, maybe it has nothing to do with that.
There seems to be an extreme desperation for woman to hurry up and marry. As children we’re taught to believe that your twenties are for marriage and your thirties are for raising children. But not every individual fits into that five by five conception. It seems to be perfectly normal for a man to remain unmarried by his forties but unnatural for woman to do so. She is considered a spinster and therefore unwanted. The problem that I have with that theory is that it’s absolutely ludicrous. Everyone, especially women, are entitled to the life they want. Whether that includes marriage and children, that’s entirely up to them.
You shouldn’t feel pressured into something merely because it’s considered right. I would much rather be single in my twenties than divorced in my thirties. Maybe I’ll meet someone and settle down, and maybe I won’t. But I’m not going to dive head first into a situation merely because it’s required of me.