According to Mark Regnerus at the WaPo, young women are delaying marriage because they think getting hitched is lame. Little do they know that early marriage is their only ticket out of shriveled, infertile loneliness!
Women who fail to marry at "20 or 21," Regnerus implies, don't hesitate because they're not sure they've found the right guy or because they genuinely want to date a bit before settling down — instead, they're pressured by peers and parents who want them to focus on career first. This pressure is very very bad for their poor ladysouls, however, because early marriage is actually great for girls — it's boys who can't handle it. Regnerus writes,
According to data from the government's National Survey of Family Growth, women who marry at 18 have a better shot at making a marriage work than men who marry at 21. There is 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.
So girls should marry older men — and do it fast, otherwise nobody will want them. Like Lori Gottleib in last year's Atlantic, Regnerus thinks ladies should settle down before their "value" declines too far:
This is not just an economic problem. It's also a biological and emotional one. I realize that it's not cool to say that, but my job is to map trends, not to affirm them. Marriage will be there for men when they're ready. And most do get there. Eventually. But according to social psychologists Roy Baumeister and Kathleen Vohs, women's "market value" declines steadily as they age, while men's tends to rise in step with their growing resources (that is, money and maturation). Countless studies — and endless anecdotes — reinforce their conclusion.
See, women are commodities — rapidly rotting ones at that — and there's absolutely nothing they can do about this, other than rush to the altar. Girls are so lucky they have Regnerus to tell them what's what, without worrying about being "cool" — because nobody is talking about these issues. Before he stepped in, nobody had thought to make a woman feel bad about her declining fertility or her wrinkly, 26-year-old hag-face. He's so brave.
Seriously, for any pressure that tells women to wait and date around, there's a greater pressure to get hitched before they're all old and dried-up and nobody wants them (obviously older women are hideous, and the goal is to trick a man into marrying you before you get that way). A marriage that is based on either of these pressures is not going to be a happy one. Peter Suderman at The American Scene has it right: "decisions about marriage should be made on the basis of whether or not you think you and your potential spouse will be happy and successful." These decisions should probably include both love and mundane realities like whether a partner helps with chores — but they shouldn't be based on what Regnerus, or some notional crowd of evil, marriage-delaying harpies, thinks is best.
Say Yes. What Are You Waiting For? [Washington Post]
When To Get Married? [The American Scene]
Re: When To Get Married? [The American Scene]
Why Dating Doesn't Predict Marital Success [Scientific American]