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Young girls less interested in marriage - good thing or not?

(26 Posts)
Lottapianos Mon 08-Oct-12 13:32:47

I don't have a proper reference but I heard this being discussed on the radio this morning. The Girl Guides did some survey of their members and only about 32% of the girls they asked saw marriage as something to aspire to.

I am gobsmacked at this - celebrity magazines are stuffed full of wedding photos and even among mere mortals, I haven't seen any evidence of the decline of marriage in my social and work circles so I would have imagined that young girls would still be dreaming of white dresses and tiaras. I'm quite heartened by this though. I think far too much emphasis is still placed on marriage and babies as the pinnacle of achievement in a woman's life and I think it's a good thing that young girls are thinking of alternatives. And apparently the overall rate of marriage is on the decline so I guess people are realising that marriage is not a perfect system and not something that everyone automatically wants to be a part of. On the other hand, lots of people still think they have legal protection as a 'common law' partner. The whole system needs a big shake up IMO

Your thoughts? smile

MissHuffy Mon 08-Oct-12 14:42:34

I'm bloody overjoyed! I've never understood why marriage is something to "aspire" to.

I agree with all the points you've made though. I think there are huge misconceptions about what the legalities of co-habiting vs marriage.

I think it's probably a good thing. I was never going to get married, thought it was a ridiculous idea and loved being single. Now, I'm happily married, in a mutually respectful partnership. Many of my friends who have always wanted to get married and have babies are in rubbish relationships but stick with it because they are so heavily invested in this idea of romantic love and being married.

meditrina Mon 08-Oct-12 15:02:14

Bit of both.

Great for thinking the important things in life are those you build for yourself as an independent person, using all opportunities and expecting to have those opportunities irrespective of gender.

A note of caution, though, that if their life choices include pairing up and having children, then the legal protections of marriage should be fully weighed when making choices about cohabitation and arrangements entered into in a properly considered manner.

Lottapianos Mon 08-Oct-12 15:14:46

Since we're going strong on the subject, my humble suggestions for a 'shake up' to the whole system would involve keeping marriage for those who want it and extending it to gay couples who want it. However, not everyone wants, or feels it is realistic, to promise to stay with one person forever in that way so I would favour civil partnerships being retained for gay couples, but also extended to hetero couples and any other type of partnership, like long-term friends, long-term flatmates, who want to be considered each others' legal partners and next of kin without promising to do anything 'until death do us part'.

I think there should be a totally separate legal arrangement for any situations where people have children - married/civilly partnered or not, I think all parents should enter into a legal contract, committing to work together and sort out financial support for their children until those children turn 18. That way even if the parents' relationship breaks up, the legal parental commitment stays in place. Quite how that would work in practice I'm not entirely sure - I'm sure other folks can see potential pitfalls - but I do think it would be healthy to see the parents relationship with each other as separate from their commitment to their children.

CailinDana Mon 08-Oct-12 17:20:19

What was the age range of the people who were asked OP?

Lottapianos Mon 08-Oct-12 17:34:55

Don't know, if it's Girl Guides I'm guessing 10 to 15? Could be wrong, was distracted by total twit of a presenter banging on about how marriages are much more valid than other relationships (rage)

Xenia Mon 08-Oct-12 17:59:40

When women earn 10x what men do then there is little legal protection in marriage at all except from inheritance tax in your 80s. To suggest marriage legally protects women more than men engrains sexism and the suggestion women earn pin money whislt serving male needs rather than many women can and do earn £100k a year and may well marry men who earn only say £20k.

meditrina Mon 08-Oct-12 18:06:03

Marriage legally protects either and both. And I would damn well hope that everyone thinks about what legal arrangements to choose, irrespective of earnings at the time.

avenueone Mon 08-Oct-12 21:05:37

I heard it early and I couldn't decide. I have always been of the mindset that if I found someone I wanted to share my life with great but if I didn't I may be sad I didn't have a child but it would be fine - anyhow I have a child and I am single and it is just fine.
If it means people are considering it a more realistic and meaningful way rather than just focussing on a day to wear a ridiculous dress and spend a fortune to see relatives you hate then great.

CailinDana Tue 09-Oct-12 08:12:28

The reason I ask about ages is that I think among me and and my friends in our early teens marriage was the furthest thing from our minds. We had vaguely considered jobs and careers but overall we were caught up in our teenage world and we couldn't envisage being adults, when our priorities might be different. Just about all of those girls are now married (we're all around the 30 mark). I think asking people for whom marriage isn't really an immediate possibility what they think of it isn't very valid - it would be similar to asking me about retirement, I'd have an opinion about it but there's no way I could predict how I'll feel about it when the time actually comes. I'm only guessing but I think if you asked the same girls their feelings at the age of 25-30 the outcome would be very different.

noviceoftheday Tue 09-Oct-12 08:32:45

I think it depends. There is nothing wrong with aspiring to get married as long as that's not number one aspiration in life. I have a great career but it is not as satisfying as my homelife.

I also agree with Xenia. People always talk about marriage as if its protection for the woman. My last relationship pre meeting dh was with someone who now earns about 20 times less than me. When we were together there was disparity, I earned 2/3 times more. Basically my career took off massively, his didn't. When we split up, I was bloody glad we weren't married and glad that because we lived together he didn't have a claim on my income.

Trills Tue 09-Oct-12 08:34:56

Depends a lot on how it was asked, doesn't it?

For example if they asked:

Do you want to get married when you are older?
Yes, definitely
No, definitely not

32% said Yes definitely, nearly all of the rest said Maybe, that's hardly news, is it?

Trills Tue 09-Oct-12 08:37:37

Marriage is protection for the lower-earning partner, which in our society is most often the woman. Since these lower earnings are often related to taking time to look after children (an activity that benefits both parties) it makes sense that in the case of divorce that partner should have some claim on the "family money".

Will that do?

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Tue 09-Oct-12 09:17:18

Here's a link;

"Most of the girls (85%) and boys (82%) agree that parenting should be shared equally between parents." Here's hoping that one persists, at any rate!

noviceoftheday Tue 09-Oct-12 09:19:26

Trills I don't disagree (sorry double negative!) with either of your posts. My point is more that if we start from the very basic assumption that marriage is for the protection of women then it sort of assumes that it will definitely be the woman who is the lower earner, takes time out etc. It just strikes me as self perpetuating.

Minty82 Tue 09-Oct-12 09:51:23

I think it's obviously positive that girls aren't seeing marriage as their only goal in life, or as an alternative to career ambitions; but I don't see that it necessarily follows that they (or boys) shouldn't see it as something to aspire to. When I was that age I had academic ambitions and (vague, frequently changing!) career plans, but I also always knew that I wanted to get married and have children. My parents have a relationship which is the backbone of both their lives and I definitely see a partnership like that as something to aspire to, for both sexes.

I'm not suggesting everyone ought to want to get married, but just that growing up wanting to build a family of your own within a lifelong, mutually supportive relationship (in addition rather than instead of a career) is hardly a negative aspiration.

noviceoftheday Tue 09-Oct-12 10:13:30

What Minty82 said - she expressed what i was thinking so much better than me!

Xenia Tue 09-Oct-12 10:42:19

Yes, if we make assmptions women will earn pin or no money and serve male needs for life and only men work and earn and thus marriage usually protects women we engrain sexism. If instead we have all these girls saying to their equal eaerning equal wage husbands when they are 29 hang on buster, who says I want to be at home - if you want a parent at home losing income that can be you - here is your pinny... then we get a lot further in the cause of women. If the law does not protect live in lovers in the same way (thankfully it does not) then adults can make rational decisions about whether to live off one set of earnings or rely on the fact the man or woman won't skip opff the Thailand with all the family money.

IdCalUaCuntBtUvNtGotTheDepth Tue 09-Oct-12 18:29:27

Is the survey skewed because it's girl guides, I wonder? They may feel more independent in general. If girls in general don't see marriage as something to aspire to because they want to make something of themselves and don't feel they need it to do that..then I think it's awesome. If they don't want to get married because they don't see strong personal relationships important in families because there are so many WAGs and footballers and reality tv "stars" having kids with anyone and everyone then swapping "life partners" weekly because the ratings have gone down.. then it makes me quite sad tbh.

I'd wand to know the percentage of those girls who wanted to be a WAG or a doctor if given the choice.

avenueone Tue 09-Oct-12 20:15:03

cailindana I agree that it depends on age but I (and many friends) were the other way round - really liked the idea when younger but went off it as we got older and reality hit.

avenueone Tue 09-Oct-12 20:16:28

and totally agree xenia

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Tue 09-Oct-12 22:56:02

If I linked to the right one, ages were 7 to 21 And weren't all guides (think the GGA just sponsors or promotes the study somehow)

MsAnnTeak Tue 09-Oct-12 23:10:05

Xenia "If instead we have all these girls saying to their equal eaerning equal wage husbands when they are 29 hang on buster, who says I want to be at home - if you want a parent at home losing income that can be you - here is your pinny... then we get a lot further in the cause of women."

The way the modern dad is being trained, he'll not only work full time, take his full share of the responsibility for the household and childcare, I'd imagine if given the choice to just drop his career and let her work he'll br quite tempted.

solidgoldbrass Wed 10-Oct-12 00:14:42

It would be great if this included a recognition that it's OK to have multiple sexual partners - or none at all. There have been one or two threads recently discussing the emphasis on 'loving relationships' in sex education and how this is actually a bad, harmful thing because it leads young women to believe they should put up with abuse from a man if he claims to 'love' them.

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