WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS AND DOWNFALLS?
It’s a common sentiment in society that marriage is something that will complete you, and if you choose to not get married or if you get a divorce, it will leave you feeling lonely. Marriage means sharing one’s life with another person, living together, and potentially having children, but is it necessary to get married to have all these things? As society progresses, the question is arising more often: is marriage still something that people need in their lives?
In the United States, only about half of citizens over the age of 18 years old are married. This is much different from the 72% of adult Americans that were married in 1960. Earlier in United States history, people got married at much younger ages than they do now, such as in the 1960s and 1970s when most women got married at 20 years old. These days, the median age for women to get married is around 28 years old. The idea that people are getting married later in life could be due to the fact that, as millennials and Generation Z become adults, gender norms in society are starting to be broken down.
This brings up the question, is marriage a thing of the past? It is important to note that marriage was originally based on the common law that women were inherently their husband’s property upon marriage, and their father’s before that. These old-world habits translate into new-world behaviors and possibly contribute to the impact that gender roles still play in society.
In heterosexual relationships, the stereotype is often that the husband makes the money for the household while the wife stays home, cooks, cleans and takes care of the children. This stereotype could potentially lead to harmful relationships and drive away women due to the perpetuation of gender roles. In fact, Roughly two-thirds of divorces are initiated by women in heterosexual marriages.
Marriage isn’t the only way to show your commitment to another person, especially for queer couples in the United States prior to 2015. It is a harmful statement to say marriage is the only way to show your commitment to another person because, as the fight for equality continues worldwide, marriage isn’t a possibility for all couples. Same-sex marriage was not legal in the United States until June of 2015, and before this date, queer couples had long-term partnerships that showed the world how much they loved each other.
It is important to note that whether someone chooses to get married is a personal decision and does not mean they are subjecting themselves to harmful gender stereotypes or common law behavior. Marriage is just one of infinite ways to show the world your commitment and love. While some areas and stereotypes of marriage are harmful and outdated, such as gender roles, it comes down to younger and upcoming generations to defy these stereotypes and redefine marriage into something more inclusive and less inherent to what makes a relationship valid.