But this creates a number of problems including the following:
- women lose reproductive choice. If women only attempt to marry and have children in the final, declining years of their fertility, they may well miss out on having the children they want
- if women aren't serious about marriage or children in their 20s, then they are more likely to select the "wrong" sort of men - the bad boys, the narcissists, the thugs etc. This then discourages the family man ethos amongst men and encourages a player culture. Numbers of men who might have made good husbands will drop out altogether.
- when women do start taking family formation seriously in their 30s, they are more likely to find it difficult to meet suitable men. Some men will already have married, others will have dropped out and some will be players. The women themselves will no longer be at the peak of their youthful fertility and attractiveness to men and they might well be less able to pair bond due to the number of casual relationships already entered into.
- all of this combined is likely to encourage a more cynical and adversarial culture of relationships between men and women
- men and women will not be able to gift each other their youthful passions and they will be considerably older and more infirm as grandparents
Feminists are mostly winning this battle in the culture war. However, there do exist opposing voices, warning of the problems created by leaving things so late, such as the BBC Radio DJ, Lauren Laverne:
BBC radio presenter Lauren Laverne has criticised the growing culture of ‘freemales’ who choose an independent life over having a husband and family.
Her friends are being foolish. They are not willing to settle down until they are 35 - exactly the age at which a woman's fertility starts to peter out. They are not even making relationship commitments in their late 20s.
Lauren Laverne is not alone in speaking out against trends toward delayed marriage. Two American researchers, Mark Regnerus and Jeremy Uecker of the University of Texas, have recently published their findings on the state of play in relationships between young Americans. One of their conclusions is that women, by delaying a serious commitment to relationships, are creating a player culture amongst men, which then undermines women's desires later on to find a committed relationship:
Researchers found that since women in the 18- to 23-year-old group feel they don't need men for financial dependence, many of them feel they can play around with multiple partners without consequence, and that the early 20s isn't the time to have a serious relationship. But eventually, they do come to want a real, lasting relationship. The problem is that there will still be women who will have sex readily without commitment, and since men know this, fewer of them are willing to go steady.
"Women have plenty of freedom, but freedom does not translate easily into getting what you want," Regnerus said.
This issue was even openly discussed in the usually liberal Salon magazine. There was a very respectful interview with the two researchers about the issue of women having "lost control" of relationships, with increasing numbers of women reporting about modern relationships that "I don't like this script, it sucks." One of the researchers gave this advice:
I don't think it's in women's interest to play the field for a long period of time. It can get depressing, not only about their relationships but to see the pool of men in their 30s who are available. My advice is if you find somebody who you love and who loves you, make it work...
...Women need to somehow reacquire control over the direction of relationships. They feel like they don't have control.
Women who have been brought up to believe that independence is what matters most won't easily warm to the idea of marrying earlier. One woman's comment in reply to the two American researchers was that,
It strikes me as the typical fear tactics used to keep women's ambitions and autonomy in check because many men don't have the personal skills to succeed in equal partnership.
She ain't budging.
Some of the late marriage camp are also picking up on a statistic which claims that women with college education, their own income and who marry later are less likely to divorce. So you get comments like this one:
A woman is in the best position to avoid divorce if she is college-educated (the more the better), has her own income, and she marries no sooner than age 25. Women who fit this description have a very, very small likelihood of finding themselves in divorce court - WELL under national averages.
So this begs the question... is the goal for women to GET married, or to STAY married? Personally, I'm voting for the latter.
It's not that waiting until your mid-20s to marry is necessarily wrong. Some people don't mature into their adult personalities until this age. But the argument is sometimes used to justify a "wait until you're in your 30s and have done the whole education/career thing" position. So I do want to point out that the divorce rate difference between those who marry in their early 20s and those who marry in their late 20s doesn't seem to be that great. It's those who marry as teenagers who clearly have a higher divorce rate.