Baby Boomers Answer "Why Did I Not Get Married?"
Four of my friends all past the age of forty share their answers to the question they are forced to ask themselves quite often: Why did I not get married? Although they belong to the baby boomer generation (born 1946-64), their reasons are not rooted in the popular desire for satisfaction and enjoyment, qualities that characterize this generation.
Compare their reasons with the three top reasons given by millennials (born generally around the early 1980s to the early 2000s). It becomes obvious that young people are losing their attachment to marriage as a goal to be achieved. They have other interests, and think nothing of embracing their singleness while they pursue them.
- Different Faiths
Sara is an attractive, fashionable, high-strung go-getter. “I’ve had special friendships with men who seemed like good prospects for marriage, but there was always something factual or imaginary that scared me away. I called it caution, but looking back I think it was fear.
My parents were divorced, as were ninety percent of my relatives. I saw the women fending for themselves and doing it successfully. In the back of my mind I harbored the notion that it would be easier to skip the marriage and divorce and just concentrate on looking after myself. Perhaps marriage would have worked for me, but I gave up on the idea, and became content with being single.
I'm not looking but if I meet someone who makes me feel more comfortable than afraid, I'd think about it. What a shame it would be for me to have marriage problems now after being single and content for so long."
Joslyn is a retired educator, recognized by her peers for her outstanding contribution to her field. She seems happy all the time, but she thinks that she and her sister share the same predicament.
“We do not know how to receive affection. I still admire the one man I ever loved (he married someone else). I know that he loved me. He was everything I wanted in a husband. When he told me that he loved me, I smiled and walked away, unable to tell him that I loved him too. Whenever he tried to get physically close or his conversation became too intimate, I interrupted the mood or found a reason to leave. He never came after me and eventually he gave up.
I discouraged attention from other men, because I knew that there would be no happy ending. Love was never expressed in our childhood home and we never learned how. I watch my younger sister avoid men the same way I do.”
Jim is a tall, handsome, salesman with a magnetic personality and a track record of award-winning performances. “I’ve been a salesman before I even graduated high school. Everyone said that I was a natural, and I believed them. Even when my company promoted me to a managerial desk, I scheduled field days for myself.
I love one-on-one contact with people, but I have never had a strong desire for physical closeness with anyone. Whatever I think I feel doesn’t last. I love to be in the company of beautiful women—I’m referring to inner as well as outer beauty. I hug and squeeze as much as the next guy, but only in a caring and comforting manner. Several people call me their best friend, and I feel blessed to have people think of me that way.”
(4) Different Faiths
Right after high school, Stephanie fell in love with a young man who did not meet her parents’ approval. They were strictly religious; he did not even attend church. Stephanie was drawn to her boyfriend’s persistence.
"He continually expressed his love for me. I thought that by becoming pregnant, I could pressure my parents into allowing us to get married. They never gave in, and my baby’s daddy deserted me. I have not loved anyone else as much as I loved him. I am in my forties now, and still looking for love.
I am determined to find someone on the same religious path; but so far, it seems that all the men I meet who share my religious beliefs are taken. I am not comfortable with online dating."
According to the United States Census Bureau, the number of never-married people is increasing in all age groups. In the 40-44 age group 4.9% of males and 6.3% of females were never married in 1970. Males were leading in 1999 and by 2010 there were 20.4% of males and 13.8% of females who never married.
The 2014 Pew Research Poll shows that still fewer young people in the Millenials age group are getting married.There are still more unmarried females than males. However, the reports suggests to those women who might be holding back until they find husbands with financial stability, there are divorced, widowed or older men who qualify. No need to rush those who are simply not ready and those who are still looking.
Still, consider that marriage is not compulsory for anyone, and unmarried people are not automatically deficient because they are unmarried. In every community there are married, single, single-again and never married people who give us an opportunity to enrich our lives--and theirs--by our association with them. Some singles have valuable lessons to teach about contentment.
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© 2011 Dora Weithers