Most girls dream of getting married. Some dedicate an entire Pinterest board to their future wedding before they even have a boyfriend (guilty as charged); others daydream about the day they’ll meet their husbands. But according to some, our days to have that fateful encounter are numbered.
When Susan Patton—a guest contributor for The Daily Princetonian and president of Princeton University’s class of 1977—told her audience that they should find their spouses before they graduate, many college women began to freak out. “Does that mean my friend with benefits will become my husband?” “Am I deemed a lonely spinster before my life really begins?” Though Patton justifies her controversial claim with her sons’ experiences, her argument is both offensive and fails to recognize that restricting yourself to marrying your college beau has its set of drawbacks and limitations.
“Men regularly marry women who are younger, less intelligent, less educated,” argues Patton. “It’s amazing how forgiving men can be about a woman’s lack of erudition, if she is exceptionally pretty.”
Wait a second, so is Patton trying to say that we have to be pretty or somewhat inferior to get married? Perhaps she hasn’t received the memo, but a little bit of personality goes a long way. Suggesting that guys would rather marry a girl with beauty over brains is degrading and fails to recognize that marriage should be much more than physical attraction.
So what does she mean?
“Simply put, there is a very limited population of men who are as smart or smarter than we are,” says Patton. “And I say again—you will never again be surrounded by this concentration of men who are worthy of you.”
We should take this as a compliment to an extent; however, her statement isn’t entirely true. First of all, who is to say that intellect is the only thing that women look for in a spouse? Having a riveting conversation with your husband is important; however, Patton doesn’t acknowledge that there are people who are “street smart” or didn’t have the money to attend a top-tier school. And quite frankly, I’d rather be with a guy who is loyal and caring than a former classmate who isn’t those things any day.
Though we might be okay with a spouse who isn’t as smart as we are, Patton also argues that men may not want to “marry up.” A powerful and intelligent woman does sound intimidating; however, Patton is also forgetting that there are college men at equally prestigious schools who are “worthy of you.” Though it seems like ages ago, we did apply to a bevy of schools that matched our test scores and GPA. So unless all the heterosexual male students from those schools found true love in college, which is unlikely, there will be single guys who are “just as smart or smarter than we are” out there after graduation.
With a world of eligible bachelors to choose from, why should we narrow our choices down to the boys who grace our own campus’s quad? Once you graduate, you’ll have so many opportunities to meet guys: work, graduate school, post-work cocktails and your friends, just to name a few.
From a statistical standpoint, young married couples are the underdogs.
Clark University’s Poll of Emerging Adults found that 86 percent of young adults in America expect their marriage to last a lifetime. Though the idea of a college sweetheart is endearing, there’s a big chance you will not live happily ever after. While The Huffington Post reports that the national divorce rate is declining, more young couples are divorcing.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 60 percent of American couples who marry between 20 and 25 [years old] eventually divorce. That doesn’t scream matrimonial bliss to me.
The statistical stigma towards marrying young is not just a problem in the United States—it’s worldwide.
Just two years ago, The Telegraph claimed that young couples in the UK were more likely to divorce than older couples. “The overall divorces in England and Wales in 2008 fell to its lowest level since 1974,” The Telegraph reported. “But the divorce rate among 25 to 29 year-olds was twice the average across all age groups, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics.”
The India Times also spotted a trend in young couples’ divorces. “Not willing to be dragged down, couples, especially in the 25 to 35 age bracket are option for quick, mutual consent divorce instead of getting into ugly, long-drawn legal battles,” the newspaper wrote.
It’s hard to feel the pressure to find your one and only in college when young couples do not have the best success rate.
So if young marriages are failing around the world, the only alternative is living alone with a plethora of cats or expensive footwear, right?
Wrong. Instead, many Americans are delaying the nuptials and staying single, and they may have the right idea.
“Even people who eventually do marry are contributing to the worldwide trend of living single for more years of their adult lives,” writes Bella DePaulo of Psychology Toda. “They don’t marry as young as they used to, so more and more years of early adulthood are spent single.”
Not only is this a growing trend, but staying single also has its benefits.
“For college-educated men and women, delaying marriage has paid off—literally,” writes Karen Kaplan of Los Angeles Times.
Listen up collegiettes, the odds will be ever in our favor if we postpone our walks down the aisle.
“The return on this investment is most significant for women: Those who finish college and get married after turning 30 earn $18,152 more per year, on average, than women who marry in their 20s or teens,” Kaplan explains.
A higher salary sounds great, but does that mean you’re a hop, skip and a jump away from being married to your job? Not necessarily. According to “Knot Yet,” a report that was released by the National Marriage Project college graduates are successful at finding love later in life.
So if more people are staying single for longer, early marriages more frequently end in divorce, and we can potentially earn more if we hold off on the nuptials, why the rush?
Though Patton’s claim raises a lot of questions, she does have one thing right: college is a great place to meet guys. Not only are college guys about the same age as you, but they’re also more likely to share your values and work ethic. College is also the place to have fun and become the person you want to be. Whether you join a random club or accept that guy’s desperate plea to take you out to dinner, these four years are a learning experience (inside and outside the classroom). If you only have finding your future husband in mind, you may be missing out on all the amazing opportunities college has to offer.
You’ll meet your future husband when you’re supposed to—and maybe you will meet him during these cherished four years—but how about we stop stressing for now and just enjoy college? Because there is a sea of eligible bachelors waiting for you after graduation too.