For many years, the average age of a person getting married for the first time has been on the rise. Divorce rates are still relatively high, with divorce no longer carries the stigma it did long ago. And the marriage rate recently hit an all-time low.
Do all of these factors paint marriage as an institution that no longer serves a purpose?
If you’re in an unhappy marriage, you know the toll it can take on your emotional and physical wellbeing. Constantly being in the presence of someone who neglects you or mistreats you is draining. If you’re the victim of verbal, physical, or financial abuse, you can feel powerless and afraid all the time. The price of a bad marriage is more than anyone should have to bear.
Even a good marriage comes with some drawbacks. There’s a loss of autonomy when you get married, even to a supportive partner. You become a “we” in many situations. There’s another adult to be factored into every decision. If you share a household, you can find that your spouse rubs you the wrong way even when he or she doesn’t mean to.
Single life has a lot to offer. There’s more freedom when you can focus on just yourself, or yourself and your children. Decisions can be made more easily. That said, being single comes with its own price.
In many ways, the American way of life is built for families. Everything from grocery shopping to paying taxes can seem to penalize you for being single. The sheer expense of being on your own is well-documented.
Single people generally have a smaller safety blanket of people and resources to bail them out in tough times. In a committed relationship, there are usually two families who are willing or able to help out in times of great need. And having two incomes means losing a job won’t be nearly as catastrophic when you’re coupled versus when you live alone.
The truth is that marriage is right for some people and not right for others. Some couples are not a good fit and others grow apart over the years. Divorce is not a dirty word. In many cases, it’s the best path toward a better life.