I may be overstating but it seems to me, everywhere I look someone I know is married or engaged. My Facebook homepage has been flooded with status updates on the latest engagement or wedding photos and I am always startled. I see girls from my English class showing off their 1.5-carat rings and I see profile pictures of recent Miami graduates gazing into the eyes of their new spouse. It’s a well-known assumption that when a couple is dating throughout college and graduate, marriage is to be the next step. But as economists keep predicting less and less job availability for graduates, is marriage the best option?
It’s true that once you reach a certain age, different milestones come up. When you’re in your mid-20s, friends start inviting you to weddings, by the time you’re 30, wedding invitations become baby showers, the 40s bring the baby’s high school graduations and then the 50s or 60s mark retirement parties. After college, we are immediately sucked into the “American Dream,” whether or we like it or not. The most frightening thing is that most of us are on the cusp of graduation meaning these invitations are only a grasp away.
I look at the friends showing off their engagement smiles and I wonder if they are ready for the next milestone of marriage. It means joining to another person. You are signing your name on a license committing a lifetime with someone. For the girl, it may mean changing her last name and literally joining another family. It means joint checking accounts, car loans, home ownership and house cleaning.
The idea of marriage immediately after college was something I secretly desired. I can remember my father’s warning, “I’m sending you to college to get a degree, but not a MRS. degree.” He says he wants me to leave college and make a life for myself first before I ever considered marriage, stressing the words “life experiences.” He is convinced that with a spouse those individual experiences will never happen.
According to the Miami Merger website, there are 13,290 known mergers, about 14 percent of the living alumni community. I can already count on two hands the Miami Mergers that will soon raise that number.
I’m not a marriage cynic, most of my friends would place me in the soon to be Miami Merger category, but since the summer began, I’ve realized that the senior scramble is in full swing. I see new relationships forming with only a few ending. Everyone is looking for a relationship or clinging tightly to the one they have. The faster senior year approaches, the desperation grows thicker.
The price for a Miami Merger is rather high, but so many people seem eager to pay. According to the Census Bureau’s 2010 report on the median age for first-time married men and women. The age for men is 28.2 years old and for women is 26.1. The report shows that on average, women are waiting until after college to enter marriage. In 2009, the average age of women was 25.9 years old, so there is a slight increase. National numbers show more women are waiting until they have gained “individual experiences” without the pressure of marriage. Perhaps, college pressures marriage and commitment but in the end the numbers show that once you leave the bubble the pressure may be focused on just being an individual.
So instead of waiting for the ring or the right guy or girl to come along, focus on those last tests and strengthening friendships. In the end, it’s more important to find one’s self than rush into a relationship when you’re a stranger to yourself. Just as Eleanor Roosevelt wisely said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”