Thursday, December 09, 2010

On marrying young

Mark Regnerus -- "Freedom to Marry Young" -- The Washington Post

As interesting as it is insulting (not Regnerus being the insulter, but the assumption that people are choosing to push people away as opposed to just not having met anyone yet). That said, I agree with the basic four-word thesis and enjoyed the sociological analysis (I do regret not double-majoring in Sociology instead of just minoring in it), although I'd add that in granting one freedom, we must not revoke or condemn others.

lthough, while the data generally supports the thesis of younger does not equal worse for long-lasting marriages, the data mentioned takes the analysis beyond that original question and into questioning of changing norms re. gender values and worth.

For example, the idea that for women, age is a debit, not a credit. Well sure, if a woman's worth is measured like the value of your bank account and value as a spouse hinges solely on how long your biological clock keeps ticking. Granted, that's a big factor for many people, but is that the only thing that has been studied re. women's worth in a marriage? I think the argument/analysis still could've been made without the tying of worth to reproductive ability.

Feminism aside, though, as one of my colleagues, Kate Schwab, notes, "
it doesn't change the fact that men are hardwired to desire young, sexy, and yup, fertile beauties. Sucks, but it's the truth."

To which I'd respond with the following irreverent and playful rant:
Men have fought their supposed biological predisposition to sow their wild oats and with as many fertile and shapely women trotting out pheromones and eyeliner for a long time in order to settle down into generally monogamous relationships which are the foundation of marriages and all the lovely economic and human affection advantages brought about thereof. Given enough incentive, whether in the form of financial stability, numerous shags, societal pressure, or, hey, affection/love!, men can fight their supposed hardwiring as they choose. Otherwise, more dimwitted women would be knocked up than smart ones. Oh wait... !

On another note, men will "eventually" mature enough to catch up to their long-lasting sperm count, and their age is a credit?! Um, so women are as unsuperficial as they are super-fast to mature?
But moving on, according to Schwab, the biggest trend missing here regarding gender issues is the cougar phenomenon.
Are these women of middle age and decent wealth so rare as to make them statistical outliers? Or is it that young men tend to enjoy, um, playng with them for awhile but show little inclination toward marital commitment in that department? (In which case, a woman's age would appear to outweigh even the benefits of wealth, social advancement and intellectual knowledge.)
Then there is the human factor. Affection, love, religion, social pressures that lean in either direction. And as Sheila C., 24, of A Gift Universe, notes, reverse age-hesitance.
Many people actually do delay marriage, even when they've found a person they believe to be "the one," simply because they think they're too young. Men write off the idea -- "I'm only 28; I'm only 30" -- while the women go along with it be...cause *everyone* tells them they are too young to get married. I have seen that.

Certainly getting married young shouldn't be a goal. But if you've found the right person, waiting for some magical age or achievement isn't going to get you anywhere, in my opinion.
Of course, it isn't all just about fertility. Since men reach their sexual peak at 17 and women don't hit theirs till about 30, perhaps it's less about sperm count and more about money. Or, instinct, as Sheila adds.
We are shaped by our instincts, for better or worse. From an evolutionary perspective, 50-year-old husbands with half a dozen 14-year-old wives would be fine, whereas our culture has (thank goodness) progressed past that!

Often more conservative/religious people tend to get married younger, and their divorce rate can be predicted to be lower. On the other hand, marriages decided hastily because of pregnancy obviously aren't likely to last long. One thing I never see discussed when people play the divorce-statistics game is what it takes for a couple to get divorced. I mean to say, a very conservative, religious couple might be miserable and choose not to divorce, but a couple that's played the field a lot before marriage and is looking for "the perfect mate" might get divorced even if their problems are solvable, simply because they're expecting something closer to perfection. A big factor in whether a couple gets divorced is whether they believe in divorce in the first place. Another is whether they have kids.

No comments: