By Kevin O’Hara
Jane Doe, humming softly, rolls the dial of the radio between her fingers and pirouettes across the floor. Frank Sinatra’s voice fills the air as Mrs. Doe, mitts in hand, takes the pie from the oven and rests it on the sill. Its buttery crust flakes atop an ocean of syrupy-sweetness, the cinnamon scent carried on a soft breeze flowing in through the open window. A smile is on Mrs. Doe’s lips as the front door clicks open, her fingers tidying her loosely-curled locks as John Doe enters the foyer. Mrs. Doe rushes into Mr. Doe’s arms, the couple laughing heartily as Mrs. Doe strokes Mr. Doe’s slicked-back hair, the ring on her left hand sparkling in the dim, evening light.
Could anything be more perfect?
Jessi Wright, a junior at Miami, rolled her eyes.
“No, thanks,” Wright said, laughing. “The pie sounds good, and maybe that description sounds perfect to someone else, but the rest of it does not sound perfect to me.”
It seems Wright may be far from the only college student uninterested in the traditional, picturesque idea of finding ‘Happily Ever After,’ much less while enrolled in college. According to a recent report published by the U.S. Census Bureau entitled “The Changing Economics and Demographics of Young Adulthood From 1975 to 2016,” writer Jonathan Vespa reports that “in the 1970s, 8 in 10 people married by the time they turned 30. Today, not until the age of 45 have 8 in 10 people married.” Vespa investigated this fact further, explaining, “most of today’s Americans believe that educational and economic accomplishments are extremely important milestones of adulthood. In contrast, marriage and parenthood rank low.”
“I cannot fathom legally binding myself to another person before I’ve even finished my education, gotten a job and stabilized my finances,” Wright concurred, her opinions matching many of Vespa’s statistical findings.
Vespa discovered especially interesting data concerning the marital habits of adults in their early 20s, a time when many Americans are away at college. He found that “between 1976 and 2014 . . . the decline in marriage . . . [fell] from 57 percent to just 17 percent among women aged 20 to 24 years old.”
Considering the amount that has changed in the United States over the past 38 years, it comes as no surprise to learn that Americans’ values have evolved alongside the ever-changing social, political and economic climates. Moreover, with numerous economic downturns having occurred over the past decade, as well as the legalization of gay marriage in 2015, analysts must consider more variables than ever before when studying the future of younger generations.
Yet, what about those people who have become engaged and who plan to be married in their early 20s? How must it feel to have chosen a path in which, once considered conventional, is now being seen as unconventional? Fish swimming against the tide, Chris and Kaylee* have the perfect answers to all your burning questions.
“Chris went out and bought a ring and the rest is history,” Kaylee said.
The couple, who met sophomore year and started dating two weeks after meeting one another, became engaged this past July.
“The [overall] reaction to our engagement was overwhelmingly positive. Everyone from friends, to family, to people that just happened to glance at her ring reacted with surprise and excitement,” Chris said. “Kaylee’s parents . . . were very excited and happy, [too], and even said that they kind of saw it coming.”
Although Chris graduated in 2017 and Kaylee will be a Miami graduate come December, the couple agreed that having one another during college “actually helped to relieve the stress of college.”
“Other than being madly in love with each other, we realized that we . . . [also] had met the perfect partner, and throughout the two and a half years we’ve dated, the relationship has been perfect,” the couple harmonized.
UP could not agree more: This Miami Merger is picture-perfect.
In the end, whatever your beliefs may be, the important thing is to do what is right for you and your partner. If you would love nothing more than to dance around your kitchen, bake pies and await the arrival of your husband or wife, bake away! But if your hands are far too full of books to even begin rolling out dough, have no fear, for your future looks just as bright! And if you just aren’t sure? Join the club. Life is a process, to say the least, and a complicated one at that. Especially when you throw romance, marriage and parenthood on top of everything else? Who could blame you for wanting to take your time? So, sit back, relax and put a ring on it (but only if you so wish).
That’s what Jessi Wright plans to do.
“I have so many other things I think about in terms of my future, so I don’t even know if marriage is for me,” Wright said, smiling. “I guess only time will tell.”
* Students’ surnames omitted for privacy
From UP’s 2017 Fall Magazine, Unconventional