Growing up, marriage was the substance my little girl dreams were made of. I could not wait to become an adult and get married; I just needed to meet my prince charming first. As I got older my dreams expanded to include other things such as a career, but deep down inside I believed that my greatest joy would be found in being a wife and a mother. Each boyfriend I had in my mind had the potential to be “the one.” I would doodle his name on my schoolbook covers and picture what I believed life was going to be like. It would consist of me living “happily ever after” of course.
At the age of 20 I got married, but not to my prince, and even though in my heart it didn’t feel right, I did it thinking I could make it right. I was pregnant and believed that marriage would ensure that my daughter wasn’t without a father. I learned the hard way that marriage doesn’t guarantee that someone will step up to the plate and take responsibility for his family. Not long after, I decided that I wanted more and that I deserved more. More importantly, my child deserved more. so I moved on. And at that point in my life my dreams changed and became more career-focused. I was now a provider.
Recently The Huffington Post highlighted a survey which found that there’s been a reduction in the amount of girls who define success by marriage. It was discovered that young ladies were more likely to “define success as being confident and independent.” While marriage and family were still valued amongst them, being married did not mean that one had “arrived.” Essentially, these girls seemed to be able to see that while eventually having a husband and children would be nice, it was not a measure in which they defined success. Equally interesting was the fact that only 32 percent of them believed married couples made better parents (compared to 47 percent of boys).
I asked some of my friends their thoughts as to why girls today no longer see marriage as a priority the way they did in the past. I received a couple responses; amongst them being a friend’s explanation that marriage was a priority at a young age for her because she thought it was something she was “supposed to do.” She was never taught to be independent. I couldn’t help but picture a little girl who was never told that she could be her own person, a lesson I don’t recall learning myself. It was her mindset that she would grow up, get married and depend on her husband. “I never thought outside the box,” she said. She also noted that today marriage may not be taken as seriously as it once was, as so many see divorce as the solution to their marital challenges
A family member also shared her perspective. She is in her early 20s and engaged. To her, marriage is very important but despite being engaged, and having always dreamed of one day getting married, she wasn’t looking for it to happen so soon. In her eyes, marriage isn’t a priority. She attended college with a sense of direction and emerged ready to work to make her dreams a reality. It was her belief that today’s girls are “probably more focused on careers” rather than another person and viewed marriage as something that “will happen when it happens.” She further mentioned that today it is increasingly more common to live with someone and get the “married experience.”
Looking back, I never really had a true sense of direction myself until I became a mother. I just did things because I believed I was supposed to or I was expected to. It wasn’t until I had a child growing inside of me that I realized I needed a plan and it wasn’t until my lowest points both during my pregnancy and after that I realized that I didn’t want to have to depend on someone. Life had showed me that I couldn’t always depend on others; it wasn’t a lesson I had been taught early on.
I can’t help but wonder what was dancing across the minds of the young girls of the study as they shared their thoughts on marriage; was it not a priority because they had seen so many go sour? Or was it because someone somewhere along the line told them that it was ok to want more?
My friend advised me that that should she ever have a daughter, she will raise her to be independent, causing me to think about some of the lessons I hope to instill in my own daughters.
I want nothing more than for my girls to have a life-long companion should that be their hearts’ desire, but I also hope that it won’t be their only hearts’ desire. I want them to see that there is so much more to life than getting married and that they can still have the things they want in life, including a family, even without a husband. I want them to dream big and reach for their dreams knowing that having “arrived” can mean different things for different people.
Marriage is beautiful when it is right and by no means am I saying that it is wrong to dream of having a lifelong companion. Having that has only added to my life, but what I am saying is that our little girls’ dreams don’t have to stop at the end of the aisle.
So tell me, what do you think accounts in the shift in marriage beliefs? Why is marriage no longer a priority for young girls? If you have daughters of your own do you hope that marriage will be a priority for them? Was it for you? Let’s talk more about this in the comments section.
Photo Source: Visionaries Media
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