On marriage, or whatever you want to call it.
By Alisha Giampola (Actor)
The other day I was sitting in the usual table in the usual restaurant my best friend Jake and I tend to eat at in our neighborhood (Sunnyside, which is the absolute shit, just for the record) and eating my usual dear-God-I-couldn't-even-imagine-cooking-something-right-now snack and discussing marriage. Specifically, Jake and I were trying to decide who of the people we currently know who have gotten married recently will be the first of our circle of friends to divorce. This seems morbid, but Jake and I love slightly disturbing discussion games (Would You Rather being obviously the best, hands down). This discussion game was fun and I feel, valid, as statistically large numbers of married people (although maybe not quite the dreaded 50% that is so frequently touted) end their marriages some time before death doth part them.
Marriage equality has been a huge topic in the past few years, and many states (NY included, woot woot!) have recently chosen to extend the right to marry to all people (and so far has turned into being able to marry cats and dogs pretty much the same way extending the vote to women also extended the vote to cats and dogs). According to current statistics, a majority of adults between 18 and 32 now favor marriage equality in the USA. My takeaway from that is: wow, young people still really care about the institution of marriage! And they want to invite all consentual adults in monogamous relationships to participate if they should choose to do so! Sweet!
A very interesting opinion piece in the NY Times got me thinking about the reasons that my generation chooses to marry. We are marrying later than our parents and much much later than our grandparents, we are choosing to get educations first, cohabitate first, and then begin stressing that we might have waited too long to have babies. Personally, I am a huge advocate of all of these things (including even the last item on that list...it's called adoption, guys, there are a lot of kids that need parents out there). So ultimately, if we as a generation are already waiting so much longer than any previous generation to tie the knot, why are we bothering at all?
If we are to believe the previously cited NY Times opinion piece (go ahead and take a few minutes to read it, it's cool) we are marrying because it is "a status symbol — a highly regarded marker of a successful personal life". If that didn't already make you want to punch yourself in the face, the author reiterates this point in an even bigger backhanded compliment later in the article: "People marry to show their family and friends how well their lives are going."
Basically, people are getting married to flip the ultimate finger at their single friends.
As a person with strong feelings about the current civil rights issue of marriage equality, very personal feelings about the entire institution of marriage, and as someone who has a marriage of my own that I happen to care about, this seems like a completely flippant and all-too-easy answer.
I sure as heck didn't get married to say "screw you" to those in my circle who are not choosing to marry, be they currently single or simply uninterested in the institution. I definitely didn't get married because I was making some kind of civil rights statement. I certainly didn't do it to make anyone jealous of my life (if anyone ever had a jealousy-inducing marriage however, it is these guys). I didn't get married to get presents or have an excuse to throw a party or to have a reason to change my name (actually, I didn't change my name at all, although apparently I'm in a vast minority?!) and I one hundred percent didn't get married because I felt familial or societal pressure to do so. I know many women, particularly those who are well-educated, city-dwelling, and in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties feel exactly these same ways. And even though there are many religions and faiths that pressure young people to marry due to the stigma of sex outside of wedlock, fewer and fewer are choosing to succumb to this pressure. So it stands to reason that we are getting married for some mysterious other reason that thousands of internet opinion articles are not quite able to put their digital digits on.