Hey, all you independent menopausal women out there who just went through a single status Valentine’s Day! Get this: Women are spending more years outside of marriage than ever before.
Call it independence, a love for cats, or just being fed up with men, but a 2013 study by Bowling Green State University’s National Center for Marriage and Family Research found that the U.S. annual marriage rate is the lowest it’s been in over a century! The marriage rate is currently 31.1%, or 31 marriages per 1,000 unmarried women. That’s down 60 percent just from 1970! Meanwhile, women are marrying later than ever before, at the ripe old age of 27. OK, that’s really not that ripe—or old—but our grandmothers would sure say otherwise!
So who didn’t get hitched this past Valentine’s Day? Is it women in their later years who are going through perimenopause or menopause? Increasingly often, it’s just the average woman who either hasn’t found love—or who has, but just isn’t interested in all of the trappings of marriage.
A Nearlywed Nation
Glamour recently ran an article on the “Nearlywed” trend. Harking back to 1983 when Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn coupled up (they happily still haven’t tied the knot, by the way!) the piece discusses the soaring number of women who are living in marriage-like relationships (the joint credit cards, the shared mortgage, the in-laws, the kids), but without any official paperwork backing it up. In fact, from 1995 to 2010 the percentage of women who have never married rose from 33 percent to 38 percent, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
Why doesn’t marriage hold any appeal to these women? 28-year-old Carrie, for one, thinks marriage (or specifically, the wedding ceremony) has lost much of its real meaning. “Getting married has become too much about everyone else when it’s just supposed to be about the two of you,” Carrie says. “Otherwise why spend $100,000 on a single day? Why invite everyone you’ve ever met? And why plaster it online to be justified by ‘likes’ and ‘favorites’?”
Divorcées Say “Not Again”
“A trip to the altar is not so appealing for those who have been there before,” reports a recent study from the Pew Research Center. Its findings show that only 29 percent of divorced adults say they want to remarry, and women are more likely than men to say they don’t want another marriage in their future.
For many women, the stresses simply outweigh the hypothetical benefits. “I love male companionship, but I feel it would be too complicated to marry, given financial issues, combining families, and so forth,” says 70-year-old post-menopausal Nancy, who has been divorced for the past 20 years. “I am very independent. I like my freedom.”
More women are expected to join Nancy in post-marriage living. Today, 15 percent of women are either separated or divorced, and fewer of them are likely to remarry, according to Dr. Susan Brown, Ph.D., co-director of the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University.
’Till Death Do We Part
Among widowed men and women, only 8 percent want to get married again, according to the Pew Research Center. And no, that’s not just because they are old and set in their ways! In fact, the average age of first-time widowhood among black men and women is 54, while the average age among white men and women is 61, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
At that age, many women are either battling the hormonal throes of perimenopause or are already in full-fledged menopause. Menopause symptoms, including mood swings, painful intercourse and night sweats can all sap a woman’s desire to date again. Learn how to reclaim your sexual empowerment during menopause.
Also, apart from the same considerations divorcées have to make in terms of blending families and lives, widows have lost their husbands due to death, not loss of love.
“My husband was ill for five years. I was a wife and a nurse,” says Susan, a widow who is 54 years old. “I am not at all interested in getting married again. Why would I? I have grown children, and I am a grandmother. However, I do want love and intimacy again in my life.”
What’s Your Take?
In the end, your relationships have to be yours. So while I certainly don’t wish that women not get married if that’s what they want—after all, I love being married to my husband, David. I’m just ecstatic that so many women (married and single alike) are defining love and life on their own terms, especially if they are going through perimenopause or menopause!
What about you? When do you think the perks of single life outweigh the benefits of marriage?
Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN!
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