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Monday, June 05, 2006

My take on the Marriage Crunch

I read every word of Newsweek's cover story "Rethinking the Marriage Crunch" and I have a few comments to add. The magazine basically says it was wrong when it wrote 20 years ago that a single 40-year-old woman had a better chance of being killed by a terrorist than getting married. While I married in my 20s, I waited nearly 10 years to have children. Meanwhile, most of my friends married later, in their 30s and 40s, after they were firmly grounded in their careers. Here we all are, in the same position, balancing work and kids and marriage. It's encouraging that women and men can wait, build their careers, and still find love.
Take a deep breath and relax if you are working 24/7 and haven't met Mr. or Ms. Right. I agree with Newsweek: The alarmist mentality is gone. If you are single, I really believe you have a good chance of meeting someone at any age, if you are open to it. I think it helps that so many women are in the workforce with opportunities to network and form relationships. I have friends who are single and in their 40s and I'm still hopeful, as are they, they they will marry, if it's what they want.
Newsweek says at least 14 percent of women born between 1955 and 1964 married after the age of 30. But the magazine also takes note of a trend I come across all the time during interviews of women executives -- not everyone wants to marry. Men's attitudes about marriage have changed too. Many men are waiting longer to marry and are more open to older women. Newsweek says men and women today have unpredented freedom about whether, when and whom to marry.
But as book author Stephanie Coontz points out., "Marriage is more work today than it was when gender roles were non-negotiable, when women had to stick it out because they couldn't afford to leave." Yet maybe, just maybe, with people marrying later, they have better skills to construct good marriages. The divorce rate has gone down for college educated men and women and maybe that trend will continue. Now married 19 years, I'm doing my part to help.


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