Some people, who want to rebuild marriage and family, have been encouraging people to get married later rather than earlier. Statistically, it appears that later marriages have a better chance of success.
I do not think this is a good idea. For one thing, if you are going to wait until after marriage to have sex — which most of these marriage-and-family people also encourage — then you would be waiting a loooooong time. Not only would you be waiting a looooong time, but also, most people wouldn’t make it. Somewhere along the way, while crossing the Sahara Desert of abstinence, they will keel over and die. Also, if you want to wait until you get married to have children, then you would be skipping most of a woman’s window of prime fertility, age 18-32.
Once we do this, we are also promoting careerism for women. What are women supposed to do between ages 18-28, while they are waiting (sexlessly) to get old enough to marry? Are they going to live with their fathers? Are they going to make a living on their own? If they invest a lot of time and energy into building a career during their twenties (and why not, since they aren’t raising children), are they then going to abandon that a Age 31, to become stay-at-home Moms? Are they going to become full-time working mothers? What exactly is the plan here?
One of the advantages to having children early is that they are out of the house early. If a woman is done having children at Age 30, then the last one is out of the house around Age 48. A woman has a good twenty years to have a career, if she wants to. Or, she can just “retire early,” which is what usually happens. Nice choice to have, don’t you think?
Are we really to believe that, with today the highest median age of marriage in US history, the “right” age to get married is actually … even later than that?
Let’s see what’s going on here.
The better-raised, and more self-disciplined, segments of society today are upper-middle income families who send their children to four-year residential colleges. Only in this subset has marriage remained a reliable institution. Once we step out of these pleasant, leafy neighborhoods, we get into a swamp of dysfunction — single parent households, two working parents, children abandoned to television, social media, daycare and public schools, and a dozen other bad things you could name. If the upper-middle class is doing better than average, then everyone below this strata is doing, by definition, worse than average — worse even than today’s very poor averages.
Among the upper-middle class, marriage has been delayed by several patterns: careerism particularly among women, related factors such as student debt and inability to establish a separate household, and also, a tendency to draw out the process of marriage by an incredible 58.7 months from first meeting to the wedding day, much of this spent in cohabitation.
These are all bad patterns, it seems to me. What if the upper middle class today had the habits and customs of the upper middle class of the 1960s, or 1890s? Women would prioritize home and family, leading to much earlier marriages (for women). The risk of divorce, even keeping the legal environment the same, would probably be lower than today.