This guest article from YourTango was written by Dr. Laurie Weiss.
The New York Times reported that over half of the births to US women younger than 30 occurred outside of marriage in 2009. Most of the ongoing rise of births to unmarried women occurred to couples living together but unmarried. So why don’t these young women want to get married?
New York Times experts speculate on a number of economic reasons in a follow-up article in the Motherlode section. They reported that many young parents said “they would like to be married but not now and not to each other.”
The research I did for my forthcoming book, 99 Things Women Wish They Knew Before Saying I Do: Your Guide to a Successful and Fulfilling Marriage suggests other important reasons that young women don’t feel ready to marry.
Here are seven of the areas that the women who answered my question, “What is the most important thing you wish you had known before you were married?” mentioned most frequently.
- I wish I’d known what marriage is really like. Many of these women got most of their information (really misinformation) about what marriage was supposed to be like from the media and they believed it until reality struck.
- I wish I’d known more about myself. These women had very little idea of who they were or would like to be when they were not trying to please the people around them.
- I wish I hadn’t been in such a hurry so I could’ve taken the time I needed. These women feel pressure to marry prematurely both internally from themselves and from others.
- I wish I knew just how much family patterns could influence us. These women were so surprised by how difficult it was to blend their own ideas with their husbands’ family influenced ideas of what marriage was supposed to be like.
- I wish I’d known that bad behavior can get worse. This very common response came from women who made excuses for their fiance’s behavior before marriage. They were surprised that they weren’t able to change it.
- I wish I’d paid a whole lot more attention to money. Some women surprised themselves by how capably they managed money once they were forced to do so. Others realized how they have given away their power by not taking joint responsibility for the couple’s money.
- I wish I’d known what it really takes to makes a marriage work. Many of these women shared the challenges they had met in the lessons they’ve learned along the way to help them eventually make their marriages work.
Perhaps, the young women who are not marrying even after they become pregnant are aware of what they don’t know. They may be delaying marriage until they have the opportunity to mature and learn more about what they need to know to create a successful and stable marriage in the future. Unfortunately, the responsibilities of parenthood may make it even more difficult for them to learn about themselves and take the time that they need to prepare for marriage.
In any case, both New York Times articles show that couples who are living together split up at twice the rate of couples who commit to marriage. This leaves the children at higher risk of behavioral and emotional problems than children who grow up in a stable and secure environment. The choices these women are making may be self-protective and help them avoid difficult marriages. These choices may also prevent them from having the opportunity to grow and mature by solving the natural challenges that occur in marriage.
The information that’s been shared by some of the women who answered my question suggests that they highly value the lessons they’ve learned in creating long-term, stable and happy marriages.
If you really want to know more about what it takes to make a marriage work, my 60 minute MP3 Audio: Secrets of Relationship Development and my popular E-Book: 24 Tips for Having a Great Relationship are my gifts for you.
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- Why Monogamy is Good for Women
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- 3 Reasons Why We Rush Into Relationships