Throughout generations, marriage has been viewed as a key element to success, and divorce seen as a failure. Common phrases such as a “shotgun wedding” or “spinster” were created because unmarried women were looked down upon, especially if they were pregnant. As more people across the world start to stray from a nuclear family dynamic, the social constructs of getting married, divorced, and having children raises controversy.
Students feel the stigmatism surrounding marriage has recently become significantly more obsolete, affecting their own decisions regarding their future commitments. A “dream come true,” “a cage,” and an “obligation” were just some of many descriptions students used to label marriage in an anonymous survey that went out on Jan. 6 2022. From fighting for ending the stigmatism surrounding LQBTQ+ rights to the fear of commitment rooted from a childhood with divorced parents, the respondents had a variety of opinions. Over 63.6% of students said they plan to get married, 31.4% said they might get married, and 5% said they do not plan to get married.
The top supporting reasons for those who plan to get married were romance, tradition, family expectations, and society’s influence.
“Society frames marriage as the biggest way to express your love to another,” respondent 86 said. “I can’t help but think I would want to experience it with someone I love.”
Many students responded that children are also a key factor in deciding whether or not to tie the knot.
“I want to one day raise kids,” respondent 83 said. “It is somewhat clear to me that marriage constitutes the most effective way to provide the resources and stability necessary to raise children.”
On the opposing side, students who do not foresee marriage in their future reasoned that it is unnecessary, outdated, and is in their interest to defy society’s standards. One respondent commented on relationships in general, deeming them insignificant to the world’s problems suggesting they have other, more pressing things to worry about.
“I am focused on changing the world as it is regardless of the law,” respondent 80 said. “I do not care enough to think about the idealistic or practical use of legal matrimony.”
Respondent 16 on the other hand, is part of the LGBTQ+ community and holds marriage to a higher importance. They feel getting married in the future would help to normalize same sex marriage and make a positive impact on society.
“The fact that there are people who disagree fundamentally with gay marriage makes it more important to me,” respondent 16 said. “It isn’t a necessary institution, but it also isn’t something that would have been available to many people less than 20 years ago and I’d rather not take it for granted.”
Other students, most of which represent the 30%, simply feel indifferent on the concept of marriage and are unsure if their future love lives will result in such a commitment.
“My best friend’s parents are not married, but you would never know unless you asked or were told,” respondent 89 said. “The idea of doing all the things that a married couple would do without being married is normal to me, and honestly makes marriage not such a significant thing.”
Students also answered if divorce has played a role in their viewpoint on marriage; which resulted in divided perspectives. Multiple people referenced the statistic that 50% of married couples get divorced, reported from the World Population Review. They argue it causes hesitation and fear, but demonstrates that divorce can also represent the ability to start anew.
“Divorce, however sad it can be, is a good thing,” respondent 43 said. “It helps people move on and find new love with people that wouldn’t exist if the unhappy marriage went on.”
Other students feel divorce creates a commitment that is more heartbreaking than ending a non-marital relationship, and question whether it is worth the pain.
“Divorce shows what could go wrong if you get married,” respondent 94 said. “It hurts when you see those two people fall in love, then fall back out of it.” To give perspective of their tone surrounding divorce, this student quoted the popular TikTok sound “From strangers to friends, friends into lovers, and strangers again,” by Celeste.
Respondent 206 had a similar response questioning whether or not the benefits of getting married would outweigh the potential consequences, knowing divorce has a high probability rate.
“Why would you get married to someone you may separate from in the future, just for short term enjoyment?” respondent 206 said.
The thought process behind marriage has changed over time, but most students still see it as a part of their future. Some students feel its dismissal could have negative consequences.
“If marriage as an institution fails, I suspect that without radical shifts in the way our country raises children, there would be a serious negative cultural and economic impact,” respondent
Others welcome the change of what reconsidering marriage could have for relationships on a personal level.
“There’s a lot of stigma around the idea of marriage and how it has to be something that everyone goes through, but if some people are happy with their relationship and don’t feel the need to take it a step further, there should be no problem with that,” respondent 23 said.