Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Marriage in America

An interesting discussion:

The average age of American men marrying for the first time is now 28. That's up five full years since 1970 and the oldest average since the Census Bureau started keeping track. If men weren't pulling women along with them on this upward swing, I wouldn't be complaining. But women are now taking that first plunge into matrimony at an older age as well. The age gap between spouses is narrowing: Marrying men and women were separated by an average of more than four years in 1890 and about 2.5 years in 1960. Now that figure stands at less than two years. . . .

Interesting reflections follow. Read the whole thing.  
Categories > Religion

Discussions - 9 Comments

Oh no! I didn't realize my girlfriend's "market value" was depreciating so rapidly!

Where are these "countless studies and endless anecdotes" of which Regnerus speaks? Shouldn't a professor of sociology be able to cite more convincing evidence than anecdotes? Isn't the proof in the pudding? Men who marry are marrying women that are closer in age to them than ever before, ergo the MARKET RATE is higher for women who are older, presumably more educated, and prepared to be part of a dual-income household. Regnerus and his friends may wish that more men were marrying the cute and innocent young things that are still moldable and all about teh babies, but a woman marrying at age 26 is most likely perfectly capable of bearing the 2.1 children she actually wants. We've trended toward companionate marriage, and that's where Regnerus's real problem lies--it's the parity that scares him. He doesn't mention (although he is surely aware if he has read the studies) that women who marry young are among the most likely to initiate divorce--they know they have maximal opportunity to remarry and to chart a new life course. Seeing as women tend to live longer than men, perhaps they should marry younger men in order to maximize their life together--as a bonus, the "more naturally mature" party could form the less...

"Marriage actually works best as a formative institution, not an institution you enter once you think you're fully formed. We learn marriage, just as we learn language, and to the teachable, some lessons just come easier earlier in life." Clearly Regnerus dislikes companionate marriage.

And what is an "early marriage.": "What is considered "early marriage" by social scientists is commonly misunderstood by the public. The best evaluations of early marriage -- conducted by researchers at the University of Texas and Penn State University -- note that the age-divorce link is most prominent among teenagers (those who marry before age 20). Marriages that begin at age 20, 21 or 22 are not nearly so likely to end in divorce as many presume."

In my observations, marriages (nowadays) that begin at 20, 21, and 22 are quite likely to derail the female from her educational plans, leaving her in a relatively dependent position, economically, and leaving both partners socially stunted--the couple is out of step with their peer group, and therefore ostracized and made insular. After the wedding, those bridesmaids won't be hanging out with a married woman for at least another couple of years. So long as your definition of a "successful" marriage is one that doesn't end in divorce, I suppose you need not concern yourself with the health of the union, but it seems rather odd to me that Regnerus would encourage young people to ignore the advice of their parents who have been there and done that (marrying young and struggling financially)--if their parents aren't romanticizing early marriage, why should they? Daughters are not blind to their mother's ambivalence and resentment toward the institution (often having married young, herself, and struggled to find meaningful work around childcare responsibilities). I will continue to maintain that marriage is for adults, not for young girls that are sufficiently self-sacrificing--I mean "mature"--to make it work.

In my observations, marriages (nowadays) that begin at 20, 21, and 22 are quite likely to derail the female from her educational plans, leaving her in a relatively dependent position, economically, and leaving both partners socially stunted

Especially if she gets pregnant. And Regnerus seems to be all about the fertility . . .

"It seems rather odd to me that Regnerus would encourage young people to ignore the advice of their parents who have been there and done that." As good conservatives, we have tremendous respect for the wisdom of the ages in general, and of our parents in particular.

Shouldn't the almighty Liberty include an individual's freedom to determine for oneself if and when they choose to commit themselves to another person for the remainder of their life? Or is liberty just about owning a business, eliminating estate taxes, and the like?

More than once on this blog have I read snide dismissals of sociology and related disciplines (they're populated by too many liberals); apparently they can be useful in some instances, though.

Regnerus: "Third, the age at which a person marries never actually causes a divorce. Rather, a young age at marriage can be an indicator of an underlying immaturity and impatience with marital challenges -- the kind that many of us eventually figure out how to avoid or to solve without parting. Unfortunately, well-educated people resist this..."

I think the Right's hostile attitude to education (too many people go to college, secular public education is a problem, women aren't cut out for math & science, etc.) tells us something about the regressive direction they'd like things to take in order to stem this resistance.

Despite Mr. Scanlon’s dismissive assurance, “the Right” is not hostile to education. The Right is hostile to BAD education, which unfortunately, is all most of us have access to, despite paying a fortune for it, because of the misguided efforts of “the Left” to stifle competition, reward mediocrity, and discourage Home and Charter Schools. It is our nation’s intelligence and ingenuity which is regressing, but perhaps he takes comfort in the increasing number of government jobs, to be filled by generations of young people who are fitted for nothing better.

okay... its rather stupid to base a marriage on just age. so two people love each other? so they wait a few years so that no one will complain about there choice? Love between two people is unbounding -unless its forced, then its considered stalking- to be honest. I am about to be 17 and am engaged to my bestfriend whom i've known now for 3 whole years; were in highschool together, and though we have been on and off, we have never really strayed from one another... He will turn 19 in April and by the time we get married I will be 18 (:
You see, I have never cared for age. -ten years and younger is a different story- When you fall head-over-heals for someone it kinda just changes things... My emotions have been screwed over one two many times, due to my past relationship with a man who was TOO old to be engaged to :/ (he's 20 now, going on 21 soon). Marriage may be a big step, but if you and your partner are willing to take that step... it just makes things all the better (:

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