Why are successful, career-driven women more likely to get married later in their lives? There are many possible reasons. One of the most obvious is higher education, which demands a degree of effort that leaves little time for anything else.
As women gain life experience in the world, many learn about themselves through their relationships, both personal and professional. This often leads to personality changes, as well as heightened self-awareness, and the resulting understanding of the type of people you want to be around creates a sort of obstacle. There are a picky few who truly limit themselves by rejecting suitable partners, but the majority of women who are past their early twenties have gained wisdom. There are just certain personality types that women know from experience do not suit them, leading to a difficult quest to find people who are different from previous partners. However, the wisdom of career women just avoids the classic definition of insanity—doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result.
Avoided by therapists the world over, the term “normal” refers to what society deems as typical or average. The standards for normality have changed drastically throughout the past few decades for career women, with shows like “Sex & the City” and movies like “Bridget Jones’ Diary” destroying prior stereotypes. Working women who choose to get married later in life have become increasingly common, and increasingly accepted by society. Although many still buy into the past social pressures to marry early, the new normal may become establishing a career before matrimony.
The Pew Research Center studies social and demographic trends. The Center recently published a study claiming the trend of remaining unmarried is at an all-time high of 20%. So, what exactly are the new social expectations of career women when it comes to marriage? It may seem that many former classmates have already taken the plunge, but social media outlets only provide a specific snapshot of people’s lives. As the Fit-Bottomed Girls website puts it, you see only what people want you to see.
The Education Factor
Although a successful career path often requires higher education, the level of education has less of an impact upon marriage rates than it did in the past. The Pew Research Center conducted a study identifying the trends between education and marriage since the 1960s, claiming the following: “In 1960, women with advanced degrees (31%) were about four times as likely to have never married as women with a high school education or less (7%). These educational gaps have closed over time, and today women of different educational backgrounds are almost equally likely to have never been married.”
So, how is this new trend possible? Seeking higher education requires a great time commitment, along with the obvious assumption that a career will be prioritized. However, women are beginning to realize that it’s possible to have a career and a marriage. The closing gap between education and marriage prompts the question: does the individual want or need to get married? The individual now has options.
According to the table above, marriage has become more of an option than a necessity for both men and women of varied educational backgrounds.
The Marriage Option
In 2017, Americans continue to witness the struggle for marriage equality among those in the LGBT community (and their supporters), with huge numbers of Americans fighting for the right to partake in the legal union. Simultaneously, those who have the ability to marry are questioning whether they wish to partake in the first place. Is marriage truly just about the tax-breaks, or is it a kind of proclamation to society of a life-long commitment to another individual? Perhaps when or if marriage equality continues to grow, the gap between those questioning the idea of marriage and those fighting for the right to marry may close.
Instead of asking why career women get married later in life, maybe society as a whole should start asking this question: who isn’t getting married later in life during 2017?