In 1967, 70 percent of U.S. adults were married. Now, 50 years later, not only has that percentage dropped significantly, with slightly more than 50 percent of adults being married, but the marriage rate in the United States is the lowest it has been in over 150 years.
Instead of getting hitched, people are, for the most part, choosing other avenues — to pursue careers, follow their dreams — and because of this, marriage has fallen by the wayside. Marriage may have been the norm for our parents and grandparents, but that’s not the case for Millennials and Gen-Xers — and honestly, it’s a pretty great thing, especially for women. Here’s why it’s so great and what it means:
Women are taking advantage of the freedom feminism gave us. For centuries, women have fought for equality. In 1776, in a letter to her husband John Adams, Abigail Adams famously wrote, “I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.” In not putting so much importance on marriage and putting our goals and dreams first, we, as women, are fulfilling the hopes that generations of women before us had for us.
Women aren’t settling. As Kate Bolick wrote in her piece “All the Single Ladies,” the crop of men from which to choose is depressing. Many men have become complacent and do not strive for much. With singlehood being the norm, it’s cold, hard proof that women are not settling for these subpar men.
Women know we can swing this whole life thing solo. While no one will debate that being in love doesn’t have its upsides, love and marriage aren’t essential components to life. Because of this and the fact that more and more women are surpassing men in many ways, living a life void of marriage can actually be better and more fulfilling.
Women realize our relationship status doesn’t define us. Back in those days, where 70 percent of adults were married and women were declared old maids by 30, relationship status was everything. To not be married, especially by a certain age, was a shameful burden to bear. Nowadays no one really cares if you’re married or not. Marriage no longer escalates your social standing, as it did hundreds of years ago.
Women aren’t afraid to have more than one love. If we go by the traditional marriage vows, to marry means to stick it out “until death do us part.” That might be beautiful in theory, but if you honestly believe there’s only ONE person for you on this whole planet and you’ll only love once in your lifetime, you’re not just naïve, but maybe even denying yourself, too. In not getting married, women are admitting that maybe things don’t last forever and, in doing so, all but say that they’re not afraid to love more than once. Which is great! Different people fit different parts of our loves and we’re programmed to love more than once a lifetime.
Women get just how unnecessary marriage is. Marriage doesn’t bring anything to anyone’s life that they don’t already have. Well, it brings a piece of paper legally binding two people and a couple tax breaks, but that’s pretty much it. So, you do the math as to just how “necessary” marriage is.
Women can clearly see that many men aren’t worth our time. Not only does this trend of staying single prove that women aren’t settling, but it also proves that women can look at the pool of guys out there, cringe, and realize we really don’t need any of that in their lives. We want to surround ourselves with people who lift us up; not fragile, insecure men who haven’t just given up on making anything of themselves but are easily angered by women who are superior to them.
Women are cool with doing motherhood on their own. You don’t need to be married to have a child, nor do you even need a man. As women, we realize this. So even those of us who do want to hear the pitter patter of little feet eventually know we don’t need a marriage to do so.
Women are putting ourselves first. This isn’t to suggest that marriage means a woman can’t or won’t put herself first, but marriage does mean you’re part of a partnership. When you’re single, you get to make decisions for yourself and yourself alone; that’s definitely putting yourself first. (And being selfish isn’t a bad thing.)
Women are breaking the mold. What’s the greatest part about marriage no longer being the norm? It means women aren’t bowing down to society’s expectations anymore. And that, above all else, is the best. We’re thinking for ourselves, doing things our way, and damn the norms the once trapped us. We’re free AF.
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