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Dating & Relationships

Bacon and bleu cheese burger with fries?

Italian chopped salad?

Tex-Mex spring rolls with avocado dipping sauce?

The lunch hour clock was keeping time as I wrestled with my list of choices. The extensive menu offered an endless amount of delicious options and I spent way too much time trying to make up my mind. In the end, I thoroughly enjoyed what I ordered, but left wondering what tasty temptations were waiting for me next visit.

Especially here in America, we have a lot of choices and options in virtually every aspect of life these days, so much so that it wouldn’t be a stretch to say we probably waste valuable time trying to make simple decisions. It makes me wonder if maybe this phenomenon of having so many choices available lulls us into a false state of contentment, causing people to wait longer to get married? I’m not suggesting people should rush into marriage, and I am only lending my speculation on the issue, but it seems to be a conversation worth having.

Here are some interesting facts to consider:

  • The Center For Disease Control reports in their 2012 National Health Statistics Report that in 2010, the probability of a first marriage for women by age 25 was 44%, compared with 59% in 1995. This was a 25% decline in only 15 years.
  • According to “Marriage: More than a Century of Change,” the U.S. marriage rate is 31.1, the lowest it’s been in over a century. That equals roughly 31 marriages per 1,000 married women. Compare that to 1920, when the marriage rate was a staggering 92.3.
  • Since 1970, the marriage rate has declined by almost 60 percent.

Of course this trend is directly affected by unmarried couples who cohabitate or make other lifestyle choices. But, I wonder if more single people looking for their perfect mate could already have been married by now but have passed on too many possible candidates thinking there might be someone better out there? Is this the age of the serial dater?

One day after visiting with her son and his girlfriend, a friend of mine asked him, “Why don’t you settle down and get married?”

“I will, when I find a nice girl.”

“But, you have a nice girl.”

Her son didn’t respond to that statement. It makes you wonder why the guy was dating the girl he was with…

In the quest for perfection in a date, we must come to realize that there is no such thing. No human is perfect no matter how beautiful they are on the outside. You may finally find the tall, dark and handsome guy who makes you swoon and treats you like a queen, but one day that gorgeous Romeo is going to make you so angry you could spit! And that beautiful blonde you’ve been waiting for might one day drive you to drink. That is because relationships aren’t supposed to be skin deep. They are meant to engulf our very beings and teach us how to grow and flourish as one mind, one heart, one body.

What makes a relationship beautiful and worth having is the life you live together, despite your imperfections. The good times are great, but the bad times are far more important and far more valuable to building a life of lasting love. The bad times strengthen a couple in a way that a life with no challenges cannot.

I didn’t marry you because you were perfect. I didn’t even marry you because I loved you. I married you because you gave me a promise. That promise made up for your faults. And the promise I gave you made up for mine. Two imperfect people got married and it was the promise that made the marriage. And when our children were growing up, it wasn’t a house that protected them; and it wasn’t our love that protected them—it was that promise.   —Thornton Wilder, The Skin of Our Teeth

I think Mr. Wilder hit the nail on the head when it comes to dating, relationships, couples and marriage. It’s the promise to love, trust, and stay together no matter what makes a marriage wonderful.

Count on my prayers for you as you continue your search and feel free to drop me a line at asklisa@catholicmatch.com.

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27 Comments

  1. Carol-1017436 June 9, 2014

    Well said:)

  2. Maria-1022025 June 9, 2014

    I agree that no one is perfect, but the statistics regarding marriage do not make a very strong argument as to why less people are getting married so early. Times have changed and we live in a world very different societal wise, demographically, economically, etc. At the age of 25 I was still in college, it was neither the time nor the place for me to focus on getting married….I was focused on my studies.

    In today’s world, more women go to school and have careers, take that back to 1995 and before then, that statistic should speak for itself.

    Then there are those of us who at some point set our standards to low, looking past imperfections and looking past the ideal and loving people who were completely wrong for us. Even with the decrease in marriage statistics, the divorce rate is higher….there are a lot of factors here, and to assume it is just that everyone is looking for “Mr./Mrs. Perfect” is quite simply naive. We live in a complex world with complex problems and complex situations.

    In a world with changing values, changing economies, changing dynamic moving at a fast pace, it may not be looking for the perfect one, but finding the right one who shares the same values and who can compliment you. (IE, do not know who has been out in the world dating, but seems most guys are after one thing, and a lot of them are really great, but do not share my values of waiting until marriage….it just won’t work for me).

    So while the statistics have a wow factor to them at first glance, delving deeper in to the reasons for such statistics is not surprising at all.

    • Lisa-727959 June 9, 2014

      Hi, Maria,

      Thanks for contributing your thoughts on this matter. I am really glad you stepped forward with your opinion because the conversation is a good one to have and you have good points.

      One correction, though… I wrote “It makes me wonder if…” and “I’m simply lending my speculation” so there is no bottom line reasoning here as you suggest. No naive assumptions. You would be surprised at the number of people there are complaining about this very issue. I just wanted to get the conversation started to see what people thought, and added the stats to bolster the discussion.

      Sincerely – Lisa

      • Maria-1022025 June 9, 2014

        Hi Lisa,

        No problem, it just made me think- not many things usually grab my attention like this, so very well done :)

        Thank you for posting something that made me think!

        God Bless!

  3. Linda-442926 June 9, 2014

    Nice article. I agree to an extent with the reasoning in the above comment as well as the article itself; it’s likely more of a combination than one over the other. Just wanted to point out, and perhaps it’s just a typo, that the math in the first fact is wrong; 44% in 2010 from 59% in 1995 is a decrease of 15% in 15 years, not 25%.

    • Kate-948947 June 9, 2014

      Linda,
      As a suffering PhD student (ha!), I wanted to add that you both you and Ann made the same math error. You don’t do simple arithmetic when comparing two percentages, you calculate “percent of change.” The 2010 marriage rate is (approximately) 75% of the 1995 marriage rate…so this represents a 25% rate of change (decrease) in 15 years. :)

      • Nicholas Z. June 17, 2014

        well said…from a fellow suffering PhD student

  4. Michael-410923 June 9, 2014

    Changing values and economies should not be secondary to the promise. If one puts the promise subservient to changing values and economies, etc. it isn’t a promise. If ‘changing economies’ is a factor heavily considered in a marriage, the ‘for richer or for poorer’ aspect of the ‘promise’ is undermined. If one values the ‘promise’, it is not a ‘promise’ if subject to ‘changing values’.

    In media commentary of rising income inequality two observations arise: if people married like they did in the 1960s (upper income person married lower income person), there would not be as much income inequality. The second observation is that it was men during the 1960s that married down (in terms of income) but women tend to marry equal or higher income partners. (source available upon request).

    In my personal experience, while gainfully employed I was rejected a few times for not making more than the woman. I was surprised, given that together we made over the average family income for the area (and I challenged them on that point. Example: few men could meet the income of her ex boyfriend lawyer….why didn’t she marry him?) This pattern repeated itself, although on many other levels there was compatibility. Instead of a vocation to give back to society, it is a yearning for personal status or a ‘power couple’ status that leads to many top-notch female professionals who do not have families. On average, women seek (compete) for the higher-income man so both female doctors and female secretaries may seek a male doctor.

    It is great that both men and women may seek whatever material fulfillment they need in the workplace. That being said, as ‘don’t set our standards too low’ turns out to be ‘one gender tends not to marry down in income’, families disappear in favour of personal status.

    • Carolina-1090868 June 11, 2014

      I think, women now days, have options. As many options as men, on top of a great responsibility as child-bearers.

      Women juggle career, family, pregnancy, and maybe even having friends and hobbies, just like men do. Some women even succeed! (at least for a while). And that’s the thing with options: the more you have, the longer it will take to decide on one. Just ONE. And I don’t mean choosing only one man to marry. I mean one of the many, many options in a woman’s life.

      50, 30, 20 years ago… what where the options for women, if not landing a good husband and racing children? Very slim chances of a successful career, perhaps.

      Things don’t happen by chance. We have to pursue what we want, make it happen. I would say that being single is a choice, for men and women equally. Us singles, decided to take paths other than marriage, for whatever reasons. That’s what choosing means: giving up other options when we pick the one. And we are all the results of our decisions.

      • Michael-410923 June 11, 2014

        Agreed that there are more options. Agreed that having more options makes it harder to decide. Agreed that the status of women has increased over the decades. That’s fine, (although men can be handicapped by affirmative action).

        At one university, a prof gave a lady 15 years to do her Ph.D. Funding was cut to the lab due to low productivity. I had few good research tools as a result. I expressed frustration. Going on dates, I was asked ‘why are there more male professors than female professors?’ I countered with my experience. I wasn’t respectful enough or something. To me, I was trying to be equal with the average graduate student. As I wasn’t concerned with elitist positions (professors), I wasn’t a strong enough man to protect her….not to mention all the ambitions of all members of her gender! That was not uncommon: I was expected to protect ambitions that I would be lucky to realize myself. I look at the ‘average male makes more than average female’ reports and remark ‘this is skewed as more men are CEOs, and men on average work more hours and more years (Example: in Canada, female doctors have an opportunity to work as many hours as men, but work the equivalent of two fewer weeks per year)’.

        The question is: does one want a marriage or not? A family or not? Something has to be given up for that vocation. People choose not to. Focus so much on career/school, dating becomes a low priority and fall for someone ‘completely wrong for us’. Reading the latter I interpret it as ‘falling for someone exciting’ but not taking the time to do due diligence…as time is put into careers. It will take even more time to make ‘ONE’ decision if school/career is pursued. That is a choice.

        Without a birth rate of 2.1 children/woman any society is unsustainable. Everyone has it better than 20,50 years ago. Does one want to give back to society that has offered so much plenty? What is the average family income in one’s area…and does one need more than that?

  5. Theresa-544937 June 9, 2014

    Wow! What an awesome post. You hit the nail right on the head!

  6. Ann-1035042 June 9, 2014

    This might just be me, but I think you did a lot of the math incorrectly in this piece (I minored in math in college). I haven’t looked up the figure but 31.1% of 1000 is 311 not 31. That’s a big difference. Also, it was mentioned earlier in the comments but it’s not 25% but 15%. I just wanted to correct that because the piece’s credibility is diminished when the numbers are very off. God bless.

  7. Ann-1035042 June 9, 2014

    I retract my previous statement about the 31.1 apparently that was not a percentage figure as I previously had thought, now this piece took on a whole new level of sad if only 31 women per 1000 unmarried women are getting married.

  8. Meesch-691047 June 9, 2014

    The Wilder Quote is spot on! Thanks for sharing!

  9. Kristin-967161 June 10, 2014

    The third point, “Marriage: More than a Century of Change,” doesn’t make sense. Is it saying that the US marriage rate was 31%, which would mean that out of 100 (not 1,000) women, 31 would be married? Or is it saying only 1 woman out of 31 gets married, in which case the number is no different than in 1920 with 3 women out of every 92 getting married, but this can’t be the case. Also, the article says 31 marriages out of 1000 married women. I’m pretty sure that there would have been at least 1,000 marriages for every 1,000 married women!

    • Kate-948947 June 10, 2014

      Kristin,
      I pulled up the original data because I was curious…
      The current (2013) U.S. marriage rate is about 31 marriages per 1000 unmarried women (ages 15 and up.) In 1920, the U.S. rate was about 92 marriages per 1000 unmarried women. Currently (2013) 47% of U.S. women ages 15 and up are unmarried.

      • Becky-1046657 June 13, 2014

        Ages 15 and up? What 15 year olds are getting married these days?

  10. Linda-954866 June 10, 2014

    Awe so true!

  11. Esther-532964 June 10, 2014

    Wonderful article! Thank you for writing it!

  12. Michael-410923 June 10, 2014

    There are many two-career marriages these days. That is a good thing as if one partner gets a career setback, the other can be relied upon; it is more profitable to have two people working while many house chores (dishwashing) are done by appliances. And so on.

    Curious about articles of the challenges of two-career families and how to overcome them. In the local pub one woman opined Sunday shopping had to arrive as women were working. Do Catholics adjust in any special way? I think one challenge is where to spend vacation time.

  13. Michael-369664 June 11, 2014

    A few months ago I saw an article in the Huntington Post where many single women in their 20s were
    interviewed. Almost none of them had any interest in marriage or even planned to marry. All of them
    were in solid careers, and they didn’t need or want men in their lives.This will hurt our society eventually.
    The book to read is Save the Males by Kathleen Parker. She makes many interesting points in her book.
    The one which stuck out was: women today no longer need men to have families or be supported.
    Single parent households now outnumber married households. Many single women are choosing to adopt a child, or go to a sperm bank. I think our culture has made a wrong turn here, but I don’t see how these trends can be reversed. I’m 58,never married, and I had health issues and money issues which blocked me from doing traditional dating. I didn’t start dating until 35, and I quit at 46. I got into online dating only recently, and it’s a lost cause. I’ve aged out of the dating market completely. My youngest sister married at 50 after years of dating. She finally settled on someone she met in an airport! Great way to meet your spouse! . If I could do my life over, I would try much harder to find a spouse, but I would have passed up a college education. I couldn’t have both. None of my married friends or parents ever encouraged me to marry. I never wanted to raise children, so God didn’t call me to marriage. I think it was best for all I didn’t do it.

  14. Levinia-1053045 June 11, 2014

    I married you because you gave me a promise. Wow! Thanks for sharing Lisa.

  15. Rob-593818 June 11, 2014

    The natural call of all men ordained by God is to lead, protect, provide. To lay down his life for the women. To guard the garden.
    So the knight rides up to the castle after slaying a few dragons to rescue the princess from the tower, “I’ve fought hard and I’m here to rescue you”. The princess “That’s ok I’m good”. The knight “How are you going to get out of the tower” Princess “oh I’m making six figures a year, plus I workout six days a week, take cardio kick boxing, pilates, rock climb, do the warrior dash and have a large stable of girlfriends, were not quite done yet visiting every tropical island, your just to available and your helmet is a little lame, so yeah I’m good.”
    Knight “Oh…. well I guess I’ll just watch my sports, play my video games and objectify you through media and pornography and listen to you lament where have all the men gone.

    Meanwhile the natural cell of civilization that’s supposed to mirror the trinity that God ordained is torn down, The “Father wound” deepens and more children grow up without a true sense of what authentic self sacrificing love is. Satan is smiling.

    Yeah I’m frustrated, confused but not giving up because with God nothing is impossible.

    • Joan-529855 June 11, 2014

      Rob, this spoof of a scenario is SO spot on! However if you continued with it, it would go something like this. “When she turns 35 she realizes her clock is ticking and she wants a royal kid so she visits the local sperm bank which is filled with sperm because of the aforementioned objectification of women through media and pornography. She picks out the sperm of a handsome knight and proceeds with the pregnancy/birth. Eventually she realizes that the kid can be a royal pain in the *** so she boosts the ego of a knight in now rusty armor enough to get him to commit to raise her child with her.” This scenario plays itself out everyday in our extremely selfish world.

  16. Ann-69118 June 11, 2014

    No one is perfect but God I think many people forget that in the process of looking as well as looking for someone that falls into a standard that can’t be met. I’ve always felt is was a matter of looking for someone who’s values match you own and who’s imperfections you can live with.

  17. Joan-529855 June 11, 2014

    Too many people are looking for that “soulmate” that will provide them with the happiness they think they deserve. The fact of the matter is the goal of marriage is NOT happiness….it is to help your spouse to eternal salvation, which, by the way is NOT easy.

    “Marriage is not about making each other happy; it is about growing and helping one’s spouse to grow. Happiness can and does come to a good marriage. However, it is a byproduct of growth and life — not the goal.” – Dr. John Townsend

  18. Carolina-1090868 June 12, 2014

    I understand and agree with most of what you point out. But in addition, we all (men and women) should set our minds to what we want to accomplish, and take full responsibility for carrying it out, and whatever outcomes such decisions. I know how confusing choices can be, and what -getting lost in the way- looks like. In this or any other matter. It is tricky, it is hard. We all make mistakes and may want “do overs” and sometimes, we might even get them. What I do not agree with is, blaming it on other people’s expectations, society, circumstances, disadvantages, and the sort… It is our own responsibility to decide what it is we want, and go fetch. Things do not happen by chance, we must work for them.

    I have tried to find “the one”. Haven’t succeeded, yet. Who’s fault is that? Mine!. God knows, I can be a ‘piece of work’, and the things I put others through (but only sometimes ;op). Of course, I could blame it on my ex’s mistakes and how those affected me. Or the circumstances, for not applying to my needs. But I realized, I have my share in being wrong, and should change my priorities, re adjust my “standards”, so I’m working on it. And I keep looking. Am I too late?, Is marriage my vocation?, is it in God’s plan for me? I don’t know, but I sure hope so, that’s why I’m still working on it.

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