A fellow sociologist has published this op-ed in the Washington Post. It makes the case for marrying young. I have nothing against marrying young. But I do have some issues with the argument. It begins,
The average age of American men marrying for the first time is now 28. That’s up five full years since 1970 and the oldest averagesince the Census Bureau started keeping track. If men weren’t pulling women along with them on this upward swing, I wouldn’t be complaining. But women are now taking that first plunge into matrimony at an older age as well.
We might wonder, what is the problem with women marrying older? The problem, it seems, is that women are experiencing peer pressure into doing so [or actually, parental pressure]. It’s not that they don’t want to get married at a younger age; they do! But “society” makes them feel guilty for jumping in too quickly. So they go on twitter and facebook instead of looking for a mate. We are doing these women a disservice because, “marriage wisely entered into remains good for the economy and the community, good for one’s personal well-being, good for wealth creation and, yes, good for the environment, too.”
The burden that we have placed upon women, it seems, is an emotional and biological one (women are, after all, finely attuned to their emotions and their biology – so this really matters). You see, the older women get the less attractive they are to men (a sad but true universal finding), and after delaying fertility in their 20s they realize that they have “to beg, pray, borrow and pay to reclaim it in their 30s and 40s”.
It is, after all, “good social science” to pay attention to these “gender differences.” This good social sciences helps us realize that,
There is a wisdom in having an age gap between spouses. For women, age is (unfortunately) a debit, decreasing fertility. For men, age can be a credit, increasing their access to resources and improving their maturity, thus making them more attractive to women. We may all dislike this scenario, but we can’t will it away. [We can, however, will away the observation that marrying young is the top predictor of divorce].
What have we learned? That women are emotional beings bound by biology and objects of desirability of men. Men, by contrast, need to get good jobs. That may take a while. So men can and should be older than women (they work; women provide childen). “Society” does a disservice to men and women by encouraging them to marry older. You see, people should be married at younger ages because, “Marriage actually works best as a formative institution, not an institution you enter once you think you’re fully formed.”
This has all become very confusing. Apparently women can enter marriage earlier because they’re formed earlier; men are formed later. But marriage itself is not for people how are already formed. I’m lost.