The Washington Post tells us that Marriage is becoming a minority status and that more folks are simply choosing to be single.
Rose Kreider, a Census Bureau demographer who specializes in household statistics, noted last year that 7.5 million couples were living together without being married, a 13 percent jump in just one year. Many had a partner who had lost a job, or they could not afford to maintain two homes.
Most college graduates will marry, eventually. Nearly two in three college graduates are married now, compared with less than half who have a high school education.
It’s interesting to see that the more educated one is the more likely they are to be married. What does that tell us?
For one, I think it tells us that maturity is a significant factor in choosing marriage–and probably making marriage last. They don’t tell us how many of these people have tried marriage and failed.
I was 32 when I got married and I don’t think I could have married younger. I was always interested in being married, but don’t think I was ready in the first two serious relationships that I was in. There was always something missing. One, simply didn’t want to be married and the other simply thought I wasn’t ambitious enough for her. When I met my Marion things progressed nicely. We both knew we wanted to be married. We both knew what we didn’t want in a partner and both knew that family, faith and dedication to relationships (both each other and those we interact with) were the most important things to us.
But is our opinion of that kind of relationship a minority now? I’m not sure. But I do think that there are many who denigrate marriage and that people often use language to say that marriage is some kind of curse.
Check this out from Gawker:
Joke’s on you married people!!! You figured everyone would be doing it sooner or later, so why not get ahead of the curve, right? Well while you were spending all your time with one person, your single peers were sleeping around with a veritable who’s who of attractive members of the opposite sex in the prime of their sexuality, experimenting with a diverse menu of sexual techniques that your spouse just “isn’t into!” Or at least playing lots of new XBox games, alone. Either way, the message is clear: I don’t even want to get married, Julie, so I hope you’re really happy with that other dude you married after you dumped me. I really hope so, ha! I’ll be having sex with someone extremely drunk this weekend Julie—someone whose hair is much shinier and fuller than yours! Have fun watching Todd resurface the cabinets or whatever! Really happy for you, sure!
See what I mean.
Let me just say that marriage isn’t easy…nor is any relationship that one dedicates themselves to. I know I’m not always the easiest person to get along with, but I also know that Marion isn’t about to run away because of it. That’s what marriage is–that type of commitment. Co-workers can get new jobs, friendships sometimes fade or move into distant relations, even family members sometimes choose to remove themselves from the relationship. And yes, sometimes people get divorced. Many try to make it work but something in the dedication that one has for the other is failing. Usually one person has reservations about openness or is afraid to be hurt and therefore doesn’t share their whole selves relegating parts of themselves off-limits.
Perhaps that’s the issue at play and why many people choose singleness. It’s easier. While some choose the single life for legitimate reasons, (Catholic Author Beth Knobbe comes to mind here) others simply don’t want to commit to another person, giving up some freedom, or taking on responsibility for others.
And some others just want to have sex without strings. Still others, are involuntarily single, but perhaps that too is a form of protecting one’s self. I know many single people who act a bit desperate and scare others away and others who act cold and withdrawn in relationship and send signals that they don’t want to go any farther.
The truth is that while nobody wants to be lonely, everyone craves intimacy. The problem is that we often settle for cheap versions of it, refusing to share ourselves openly, afraid to fail or to show vulnerability to another and an unwillingness to open our hearts just a bit farther.
These stats reveal some about marriage but a whole lot more about how selfish we’ve become as a society. I’d venture to say that similar numbers of people give to charity but don’t get involved in the people behind them.
Last year in Cleveland, one of the best exercises for me was being a guest at a local house of hospitality. Eating with the homeless as “one of them” gave me an intimate experience of those whom I often serve. They are not much different than we are. We even have some shared experiences.
Perhaps we put up similar walls in our relationships, married, dating or otherwise?
What fears might we have about intimacy? What would happen if we sought true intimacy with those around us? If we really loved with abandon for ourselves?
I think that just might be called The Kingdom of God.