Sunday, February 5, 2012

On being single part two

So the day after, I stumble across an infographic from Pew Research about the status of marriage in America and the money spent on Valentine's Day. Click here for the giant infographic.

The most pertinent information that we can extract is that the average age for marriage is at an all time high: 26.5 for women and 28.7 for men. 39 percent of Americans surveyed say that marriage is becoming obsolete. In 1960, 72% of Americans were married. In 2010, only 50% were married. Quite a precipitous drop, no?

I met a girl for a drink yesterday evening (despite my desire to go home and catch up on my sleepies) and we got to talking about flexibility and the future. She is a busy independent traveler who has a lot going for her. I am a busy student who has no idea where school will take me (geographically speaking). We spoke about the excitement of the future and how not knowing what will happen is somehow freeing. The ability to simply walk away and not have a mortgage or children is exhilarating. She asked me point blank if I could ever see myself getting married.

My short answer was "I don't know" and then I launched into a sketchy version of the thesis that I laid out in the previous post. I merely mentioned the "hooking up due to economics" thesis and focused more on how marriage is slowly dying on the vine. I said that I am not opposed to getting married, but I just can't see myself doing it.

She is sort of in a similar space as I am in relation to marriage. She also responded "I don't know" and then proceeded to give me reasons for her ambivalence that I had already mapped out. Everything she said correlated to points I had made regarding marriage.

As much as the conversation validated my theories (or at least for one other real person) it was fascinating to get a different viewpoint, one that isn't so cold and rational (of which she accused me a couple times). It seems that the world is changing, and I am not the only person to notice this.

However, despite my gross generalizations with some stats to back up the claim, there is some anecdotal evidence that supports the idea that my generation is still holding onto marriage. If you went onto my Facebook, you'll see numerous couples my age who are getting engaged or entering into marriage. I can say with confidence that the ones getting married are the ones who have already graduated from school and are working full time. They post pictures of the house they just bought and post statuses about how excited they are to fill the house with a new couch they just picked up. I am invited to socials, which if you are not from Manitoba, you won't understand. A social is a fundraiser for one's wedding. One invites everybody they've ever met, charge them for a ticket, sell them cheap booze, and somehow this pays for one's wedding or at least puts a dent into the debt. As mentioned, the average cost of a wedding in Canada is almost 25K.

Sometimes I become depressed when I see everybody I went to high school with has started their lives and are on their way to stability. They go to Mexico seemingly every year, or Vegas. They have dogs and sometimes they post pictures of their ultrasounds.

[Here's an awkward aside. You post your ultrasound picture on Facebook. Later, you lose the baby. Do you take down the picture? Do you leave it up? What if somebody comments on it a year later and opens up the emotional wound again? This is the shit I think of]

While I get somewhat depressed, I also temper my self-criticisms with the knowledge that I am not alone. There are people on Facebook with whom I went to high school who are also still living in apartments, living paycheck to paycheck, not ready to settle down. They are living alone and seemingly happy. I am not alone in my excitement for the freedom that being single has to offer.

What an interesting world we live in. A world in which a whole new set of protocols must be established thanks to technology or the precariousness of our careers. I find this shit endlessly fascinating. Hopefully you do too because I am thinking about this stuff all the time.

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