I never planned to get married at the early-spring age of 23. While all my friends were either pairing off or pining to do so, I was plotting how to live several years on each of the seven continents (yes, even chilly, dark Antarctica). Husbands and babies were the farthest things from my mind, and at 23, I had room and time enough to be cavalier about my singleness. I knew my desire for adventure and my lack of desire for marriage were unusual at the time, but I never felt insecure or ashamed. But everything changed when I met Paul. I still wanted to be adventurous and travel the world—I just wanted to marry him more.
As it turns out, being a single female in today's world is not that unusual. Studies show that more women than ever before are choosing to remain single. According to a New York Times analysis of census results, 35 percent of women over the age of 15 in the Leave It to Beaver days of the 1950s were single. That number jumped to 49 percent in 2000 and to 51 percent in 2005.
Since 1960, the number of married people in the overall population has dropped from 72 percent to 51 percent, and 5 percent of that 20-year drop occurred from 2009-2010. Researchers can't say for sure, but they think the large uptick in the percentage of single people might have something to do with the economic downturn, and many single women agree.
According to Kate Bolick, contributing editor for The Atlantic, more and more women are remaining single due to a shortage of "marriageable" men—men who earn more money and are more educated. The perfect storm of women's ascent in society and the simultaneous decline in life prospects for men has led to a "crisis in gender" in which women must choose between deadbeats and players.
For Bolick, the economic crisis has split the dating pool into two camps: deadbeats who are unemployed, underemployed, or uneducated, and the playboys who eschew commitment because the demand for successful men outnumbers the supply. These changes come in conjunction with the tendency for people to marry later and marry less, and the ability to have a biological child without a physical partner.
Bolick's article is emblematic of a number of concerning ideas swirling in contemporary culture related to the nature of marriage. The following three are particularly egregious, in that they reduce the concept of marriage in such a way that "marriage" is seen as obsolete and altogether different from what God intended.
Marriage as an economic institution. For the broad swath of human history, economics has been an important factor in deciding whom to marry, particularly among the upper class. If two people wanted to marry for love, they either paid a penalty or did so against the wishes of their family.