The Old Ball and Chain

Are the youth of America getting married too suddenly?

Destiny Vasquez, Cactus Writer

The general consensus of my research thus far on marriage in America has concluded that marriage has been decreasing along with divorces in recent years. The New York Times reported that “marriage rates have plummeted” leaving me to wonder has the meaning of marriage changed? Is marriage just simply an outdated union between people? Being an engaged student myself I went to some of CAC’s students for answers.

James Peru is a young man of twenty-six and has been married once but his marriage ended after two years. I thought to myself could it be his age? You hear countless times from older generations that marriage can wait until you’re much older. Perhaps the reason for this is because you become wiser over the years and what you want in life becomes clearer. I can see the logic in that and even James said they were “too young and too dumb” at one point in the interview. So age and maturity in some ways does seem to be a factor.

Lee, aged twenty-one, is another student on the verge of an engagement after being in a relationship with his girlfriend for four years. But Lee is still marinating over the idea of marriage, not because he isn’t sure he found the one but because to him years matter. Also being financially and emotionally stable in your relationship as a whole and individually is a factor for him. Lee explained to me in an interview that for him “in order to get married…you need to be together for 3 to 4 years to make sure that you’re good together so to speak.”

Then I have Taylor who is 19 and engaged and just wants to marry the love of her life for the simple reason of belonging to that one person forever. Marriage to her though is “so easily achieved now that anyone can basically do it, so marriage loses its value in society.” But marriage to her is a serious commitment in which you relinquish your freedom and she is okay with that.

So it would seem that age, time, and just plain simple love play major roles in whether the union will last or not. As James and Lee pointed out historically marriage was a financial union. You married because it was practical. But now the meaning of marriage has changed in society. As James told me he went into his marriage with the intentions of making it work but knowing in the back of his mind that divorce was always an option. I couldn’t help but feel the same way, as I contemplated my future marriage. In the media I see people getting divorced, cheating, and disregarding all the promises they made and perhaps this is why marriage to me has little meaning in the grand scheme of things. As Taylor said in our interview “marriage is not as special as it once was.” And I’m inclined to believe that the sanctity of marriage is “something nice,” as James said, “but it is not something that is essential or necessary.”

Marriage definitely isn’t for everyone and it becomes more and more apparent that marriage is a tad bit over rated. Taylor explained to me some people have been together “probably for so long they see no reason to get married.” They already have a life together, so marriage wouldn’t make that much of a difference. Even Lee said that people “don’t need a piece of paper to prove they love each other enough to stay together.” So this made me wonder why even get married in the first place. If marriage has lost its meaning or rather its importance, what did this little ring on my finger represent? Then I heard the answer on all their lips, and it came as a shock to me that I could have forgotten such a simple thing.

The meaning of marriage today is “a symbolic act of love” and who are we to judge that. What two people share is impossible to understand from an outside perspective and people shouldn’t let others dictate how they live their lives. Lee’s advice is to not rush the whole matter, “especially in matters of the heart” patience is a virtue. And James feels marriage “can be a beautiful thing, or a whatever thing,” But the main thing to remember is, as Taylor put it “if you feel that getting married is the right thing to do, you shouldn’t put your life on hold because of what society sees as fit for you.” Marriage is hard and, I can tell it won’t be easy, but I feel that I’m mature enough, strong enough, and in love enough to face anything with “her” by my side. What can I say, I’m in love.