Not tying the knot

Marriage is a tricky subject. It’s one of the only topics of conversation that can simultaneously send a couple into fits of joy or, just as easily, end a relationship.

Marriage is a tricky subject. It’s one of the only topics of conversation that can simultaneously send a couple into fits of joy or, just as easily, end a relationship. In modern times, with changing family dynamics and a high divorce rate, it’s questionable whether future generations will consider marriage as an option at all.

Perhaps it is a reflection of where people place their concentration. It’s no secret that Portlanders in general are usually fairly eclectic when it comes to their faith, if not entirely atheist. Almost every mainstream religion has a heavy hand of influence and encourages views on matrimony. With a lack of—or at least a skewed look at—religion, it’s possible that we are simply becoming less influenced by any reason to marry.

“People just don’t marry as frequently anymore since the religious ties aren’t relevant like they used to be. Plus it changes a relationship dramatically, even if that’s not intended,” said an anonymous PSU junior. “I think it can be a future goal for the right people, just not everyone.”

But religious inclinations, or the lack thereof, aren’t an all-encompassing answer to our modern views of marriage. Much more takes precedence in our minds nowadays. When I asked a handful of PSU students what their future goals were, everything centered around various occupations, traveling the world and hopes of winning the lottery, but no mention of marriage. Could it be that, while we’re not completely disinterested, we just have higher priorities?

Getting a good education is a massive notion in our minds. So much so that a number of students can say that their love life takes a huge hit because they don’t have the spare time to date when school is in session. With no time for even a girlfriend or boyfriend, there is definitely no time for a potential spouse.

This focus on the individual instead of the search for a soul mate has become more and more prevalent. As egotistical as it may sound, most of our goals center around individualistic selves, and not toward any couple dynamic. We are a personally empowered generation, and likewise our desires for the coming years reflect that same self-directed nature.

This trend of narcissism and movement away from couple mentality has been noted and reflected upon in our evolving music. While songs of the past sang about going to the chapel and wedding bells, our current billboard hits are all about the good times of being wild and single.

Kentucky University psychology professor Nathan DeWall recently released a study on popular music that discussed this trend toward self-focus. In his research, he discovered that the lyrics of songs have shifted subjects over the decades from being all about “us” and “we” to being all about “I” and “me.” DeWall notes that as important as self-esteem is, we are almost taking it too far, to the point that our single confidence is more valuable than any sturdy relationship, with anyone.

A lack of interest in marriage may not be such an immediate issue. This movement toward staying single, or at least unmarried, for a longer chunk of our lives could possibly work out advantageously.

“I’ve always assumed that I’d marry one day. Not too young, I think that’s a little crazy. But one day, if I eventually form that emotional connection with someone, why not celebrate it?” said PSU film major Robbie DeLacy.

It’s vital to figure out the core elements about yourself before merging your life with someone else’s. The age of marriage may continue to rise while the frequency of weddings decreases, but it could be for the best. Being more stable in life as a single person could translate to a rate of those marrying later in life being much greater than people expect. Just because there is a significant feeling of anti-marriage now doesn’t mean it will always remain that way.

If you truly love someone, shouldn’t your honest personal commitment to him or her be the major component that binds you? Maybe formal weddings and marriage are just not as necessary anymore. It is really impossible to estimate what the future will hold for all of us. But if it’s not a white wedding, I don’t think it means we’re doomed to singledom. If you like it, you don’t have to put a ring on it: sometimes love can be enough. ?