In the dating world, I definitely have met my fair share of guys (not just young ones), who are pretty adamant that they did not want to be married. Personally, I believe in marriage, I understand that many aspects of marriage are more difficult now due to external factors but I still crave it. It’s a growing trend to want to be exclusively dating someone for 5+ years but have no desire or timeline to ever getting officially married. Why is this? Is this the new Norm? Is marriage simply old – fashioned except for the select few that still want it? What is the science telling us?
Marriage historically was done for financial gain through arranged marriages for status or peace or monetary reasons. According to an article in The Week, the first recorded evidence of a marriage between one man and one woman was around 2340 B.C., and at the time, the idea of marriage was to improve the ability to prove your children were your heirs. Essentially, marriage was the OG baby daddy test. It wasn’t until roughly the 13th century that the idea of marrying for love became more popular, with articles and poets starting to rise up in the forefront talking about love (which was interpreted via more sexual arousal/signs). Marriage continued to be largely based on status and money, and due to women not having an ability to own/work/vote in these times. It wasn’t until really the 1900’s that women really ha the choice to chose for themselves, starting to be able to work, go to college for themselves. In the 50’s winning the right to vote, and really starting to see women push into the work force in more quantity. God forbid you like someone outside of your race, when in the 1960’s it was finally de-criminalized to have an interracial marriage in the south. As millennial’s and more recent generations, these feel as though they are ancient history sometimes, yet this was when many of our parents were being born, and the lifestyles many of our grand-parents were raised in.
Bringing this back to current events, steadily since the 1960’s the rates of people 25 and older that have never been married has been rising. in 1960 it was only 1 in 10, now it has doubled, being 20% of the american’s age 25 and older have never been married and the rates are up to 36% in black populations in America. So is marriage going out of style?
The most common rationales for not marrying I have experienced is a fear of divorce,(whether its from childhood or a bad 1st marriage), and feeling as though monogamy is overrates or boring . Were going to talk about them both.
- Fear of divorce: With the current divorce rates being around 41% for all first marriages, it’s reasonable to fear divorce. However cohabiting couples had a separation rate five times that of married couples and a reconciliation rate that was one-third that of married couples. Although the divorce rate is high, there is no guarantee that simply being in a long term relationship will prove to be more likely that you will successfully be with someone. The chances of having a successful marriage do increase if you have less sexual partners, and get married after 25 but before mid 30’s. I think one of the ways to combat this fear of divorce is to pay attention to research, seek couples counseling if you’re struggling, and always make sure to make time for open communication and sex.
- Monogamy is overrated: Another fair point, throughout history and well before the first documented marriages people have been having polygamous relationships. According to a study done in 2013 and then repeated in 2018 by Conley and associates found that when monogamous couples and consensually non-monogamous couples (CNM) such as an open relationship and polygamists, there were some differences. CNM couples in open relationships reported lower levels of relationship quality, and equal levels of sexual frequency/orgasms and satisfaction to monogamist counterparts. Those in polyamorist relationships reported higher levels of relationship quality, sexual frequency and satisfactions, but equal rates of orgasm when compared to monogamist couples. Although within the relationship it seems monogamy may not be necessary, outside of that relationship there are significant dis-advantages. Social perceptions of CNM relationships are typically negative, and people engaged in polyamorist/open relationships are viewed to be less committed, and less trustworthy. This can also affect familial relationships. In a study by Balzarini and colleagues in 2017, they showed in these relationships where there is a secondary partner, the secondary partner typically has more sexual activity than the primary does. This means, the open relationship typically looks like a couple and the man obtains another girlfriend, the primary couple have better communication, and are accepted more by society, whereas the secondary couple (the new girlfriend and the partner) typically have more sex.
It should be noted, only 4-5% of American’s are in CNM relationships (polygamy or open relationships). Monogamy is still the norm.
How does this affect my views on marriage?
I still believe in marriage. I Understand that the odds are not necessarily for me, I’ve had my fair share of sexual partners, I have a child out of wedlock, I’m currently in the younger demographic (although I don’t foresee getting married in the next few years). I’ve always been a bit of an optimist. i had amazing parents with a strong marriage growing up, while also getting to see my aunts and uncles also have successful marriages. i was blessed in that way, because it did not sour my point of view. I have seen my fair share of unhealthy relationships in my friends families, my friends relationships and even my own. I think this understanding and knowledge and doing your own research is very important to having accurate and appropriate expectations. One of my good guy friends has been married and divorced, and something we debate frequently is this. One thing he said does ring true to me, that people expect things to change once you get married. This expectation of roses and butterflies and suddenly he will be a perfect husband and you get to be the perfect wife is what i think a lot of people end up struggling with. You’re marrying that person flaws and all, expect to be treated the way you were treated in your relationship. the only thing that is changing is an understanding between you two that you are committing for life. this means if anything it will be harder. you’ll have to listen more, respect each other more, and communicate more.
I think marriage is a beautiful thing, but people have to be picky. Don’t get married too early because you’re head over heels. It may just be just lust and loneliness driving you. However on the flip side, it shouldn’t take you 5-10 years to figure it out, if you don’t know you want to spend your life with someone after a year or two, you might never feel that way. Love yourself, and know yourself, and get a bit more financially secure first. Allow yourself time to be young, act wild, travel, find your career so when you meet that someone and they’re at the same place as you, you are both ready. Have difficult conversations re: kids/where you want to live, how you want to live, religion, money. These differences and arguments tend to be the most common that lead to divorce. Have sex, and find someone who matches you sexually. Don’t be a sex crazed person marrying someone who only likes to have sex once a week after a romantic dinner. Know your partners love language, and don’t stop romancing and appreciating the person you’re with.
Is the long-term boyfriend the new husband? It depends on your partner and what you want in a relationship. Don’t settle because you think you’ve found the one. Communicate what you want and if your partner never wants to be married, and you really do, then you need to break up. Studies show divorce rates are high, but long term cohabiting couples, still break up more than their married counterparts. CONSENSUALLY non-monogamous couples can sometimes have better relationships, and almost always have more sex, so if the only quality you care about is frequency of sex, maybe that lifestyle is for you (this does not mean cheating on your partner).
In a final note: It’s 100% okay to marry people for money or status, ancestors have been doing it for thousands of years, long before the idea of marriage for love. However, don’t trick people into marrying you. Be honest, be friends, and studies have shown that love in arranged marriages tends to grow over time. If that’s something you’re wanting, then go for it, as long as your partner has the same understanding within your relationship.