Today marks the 21st anniversary of my marriage. Our marriage is now of legal drinking age, so here’s a toast to us.
Like most marriages, we consider ourselves a couple…a couple of survivors. First we overcame the immoral influence of Bert and Ernie living together, and then we lived through the Will and Grace years. Most recently, the destabilizing effects of the DADT repeal on our unit cohesion caused challenges, but we are still standing as one. We fought back and never allowed the threat of legalized gay marriage to weaken our heterosexual union.
In our case, I guess the GOP was wrong. Our institution remains intact despite the cultural headwinds.
As a married couple in America 2012, we are becoming outliers at the tender age of 21. The institution of marriage has lost some popularity over the years. According to the Pew Research Center as of 2010, only 51% of adults in this country are married. The other 49% is on Match.com or hanging out in the bar at Applebees playing online trivia games with strangers. Such is the nature of long-term relationship hunting in modern America. “Text me if you think I’m cute.”
The marriage rate for the 18-29 age group has fallen from 59 percent in 1960 to 20 percent today. People are marrying later in life these days, mostly because it’s harder to find a mate when you’re 30 and living in your parent’s basement, waiting tables and keeping one step ahead of the student loan shark bill collectors. Today the average groom is 29 years old, which coincidentally was my age at our wedding in 1991. I guess I was average before my time. Many of you, including my bride, are nodding your heads in agreement.
Fewer adults are married for a number of reasons, some cultural and some economic. Murphy Brown made single motherhood fashionable. Cohabitation does not carry the same stigma it once did. Reality TV remade the image of unmarried parents to be chic and a symbol of wealth. Kim Kardashian sets the bar high, as does Tom Cruise. They seemed so certain of their love at one time that to see it all fall apart makes everyone question their own relationships. They turned marriage into sport and not everyone is as athletic in that endeavor as they are. They make jumping the broom look easy, and undoing their mistakes even easier.
Economics plays a large role in the trend. More people are delaying the big wedding because of the Great Recession. The Great Recession means fewer people feel economically stable and ready to take on the responsibilities of marriage and family. Of course, Obama supporters blame this trend on George Bush, and GOP supporters blame this on Obama secret pan to destroy the American family. There must be a video of his secret planning meetings on YouTube…
There are tax benefits to marriage and filing joint returns, so the government does encourage permanent contractual hook ups. Families are the engine of economic growth! Those that follow the gyrations of politics recognize this part of the tax code as right wing social engineering, something Newt Gingrich is against and maybe Mitt Romney too, but ask him tomorrow. His position might have changed. Despite the tax advantage of marriage, the numbers continue to decline.
There are significant tax advantages to having children, so much so that the more you have, the bigger the federal income tax break. In fact, if you are poor, divorced and have too many kids, you could find yourself amongst the irresponsible moochers in the 47% Club. We all wish that Mitt Romney could teach you personal responsibility, but he admits that he can’t. Again, this can be blamed on right wing social engineering so it’s ironic that GOP tax policies actually have helped increase membership in the 47%. Rest easy, though. Soon Mitt will raise taxes on the poor so they can have ‘skin in the game’. You may not be able to afford the shirt off your back, but surely we can get some skin off your back if we scrape hard enough.
But marriage is more than tax policy and texting. It’s much more.
For us, it means kids. We have 3 beautiful and healthy ones, and we’ll know if they are smart by the time interim grades are released in November. They fill up our days and they fill up our hearts. They simultaneously empty our bank accounts, but that’s the result of left wing social engineering. We need to be sure that they are given everything they ever ask for so their self-esteem is protected.
It’s been a helluva road but one helluva ride. That’s describes life too, but we’ve found it’s better and smoother with a competent co-pilot who will occasionally navigate, occasionally let us know when we’ve made a wrong turn, and occasionally help us stay alert during the long trip. Marriage is becoming the road not taken in America, but 21 years later, I can say that I took the right turn on September 21, 1991. We have miles to go before we sleep and miles to go before we sleep and I’m not tired.
So happy anniversary to us. We are doing our part to help the nation during these challenging economic times. Marriage is good for the GDP**, and we are contributing as best we can. Dinner and a movie.
** GDP = Global Domestic Peace