Everywhere we go, we’re surrounded by symbols of holidays: menorahs, lawn displays interpreting the first Christmas, wreaths on doorways, and twinkling, sparkling holiday lights around roofs and shrubbery.
But for me and Calvin, the first celebration we acknowledge in December is our wedding anniversary.
Next week, Lord willing, we’ll celebrate our 16th year of marriage. It’s always been important that we celebrate that moment in time, and in the midst of life’s current madness, doing so feels even more crucial. After all, we’re still experiencing a pandemic, and it’s not often that families experience an entire global, cultural and societal reset together. In a world full of constant upheaval, I’m glad that I have a partner committed to navigating the turbulence with me.
At the same time, I realize that as an institution, marriage rates are dropping. According to federal data, the last significant marriage rate increase happened about a decade before my birth, around 1963. From there, the rate fell steadily, decade by decade, before dropping to its lowest numbers from 2017 to 2018. The changes, according to sociology professor Philip Cohen of the University of Maryland, can somewhat be attributed to “women’s independence and gender equality.”
A Twitter thread that recently caught my attention was more blunt: Modern men having to adjust to expectations of being a true partner as well as a provider.
According to the man who tweeted, “Men have to now get women to like them and a lot of men aren’t likable. We’re 2 generations removed from a woman not being able to have a bank account. 3-4 removed from when they couldn’t buy a home, couldn’t work, couldn’t get educated … without a man. Women quite literally … had to be with somebody regardless of if they liked the man or not. … A lot of men want the same relationships they saw their families had but never thought to ask were the women happy in those situations. The real answer is a lot of them weren’t.”
The debate that resulted was spirited, to be sure. When I shared it with Calvin, he added another possible explanation: “Half of these guys don’t want to take care of a wife and family because they have a hard time even taking care of themselves. It’s a lot of responsibility, and a lot of them can’t handle it.”
Obviously, I’m not a guy, and luckily, I’ve had access to freedoms that previous generations of women did not. Some of my friends are happily married, some are happily single and others fall somewhere in between. I’m far from being an expert, but what I know for sure is that becoming a partner, companion, boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife is no one’s right or obligation. It’s not enough anymore to be a fabulous cook, fabulously built or even fabulously wealthy; more people are realizing that, in comparison to dealing with a self-absorbed significant other, …….