One of the main things which spring to mind for most of our readers, during the recent festive New Year season, is family and friends. But for a growing number, the traditional setting of parents and family exchanging good wishes, eating and celebrating together has changed. There is a growing trend, across a majority of cultures, for people to either get married later or remain single.
This has caused questions to be asked as to why this is happening. Not least because it is easy for many of us to focus on the now and forget how we are arrived here. The belief that marriage was originally based on love is way off the mark. The traditions, responsibilities and implications of marriage have varied considerable across the centuries and in different parts of the world.
If we go back over ten thousand years the idea of a mother and father staying together for longer than a few years, after a baby was born, was rare. It was only later, with the advent of settling down and farming land, that staying together as a family unit evolved. This was because it was seen as a way of passing the fruits of labour onto others – your family. A sense of wanting children, and society needing the security of future generations also emphasised the desire for family. It will be the exception that proves the rule, to find parents that do not wish to pass on their property to their family, in order to hopefully make their children’s life better.
Contrastingly current statistics show a marked trend to stay single rather than getting married. If you Google ‘Single vs Married’ you’ll find many videos and information that reflect this. However what is obvious; most of these Google results have been created by ‘Millennials’, people born between 1982 and 2004. They have grown up within the social media experience. Consequently it’s probably true to say that they view marriage as falling somewhere between to these two quotes:-
‘A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person’ – Mignon McLaughlin, international journalist and author.
‘Marriage is a wonderful institution, but who wants to live in an institution?’ – Groucho Marx, regarded as one of America’s greatest comedians.
Millennials generally value independence, coupled with a desire to explore and achieve self-awareness. This means that pressures to ‘settle-down’ and start a family are not at the forefront of their thinking. Of course some of us will recall grandma’s thoughts on this. ‘If you are not married by the time you are thirty, then the chances are you’ll never get married’. This concept was based on a belief that the single person will have become too set in their ways to want to change.
Because the single trend is recent and news always tends to reflect majority views, there has been a considerable amount of ‘bad’ stories about being single. Single people: –
Don’t live as long as those who are married.
Birthdays and festivals are lonely.
They can go weeks without any social plan. They are constantly depressed.
It turns out that most of the research for these statements was conducted before Millennials were born. More recent research does not sustain these facts as being correct. Indeed singles have a greater ability to expand their horizons. They don’t have a responsibility to stay in one place, in order to look after their family. Couples though have joys denied to singles as they:-
Are able to share loving experiences.
Are rewarded with their family growing-up.
Know troubles shared are troubles halved.
Can build-up memories and experiences together.
So when it comes to deciding which is better, the choice is really down to individual preference. It will depend on one’s own personality and the influence of cultural background and upbringing. Across the years and all countries types of marriage, number of wives and partners, has always varied considerably. History demonstrates that, over many generations, one style gradually gains greater recognition. Then, almost imperceptibly, it recedes amongst other choices.
What is clear is that being politically correct, in today’s climate, is essential. Just try finding a joke about either being single or married. You’ll soon run into difficulties about what you may say without causing offence. So as Kaleidoscope endeavours to be light-hearted, we’ll conclude with an anonymous poem, about a party. The choice of being married or single we’ll leave to you!
‘I gave a little tea party this afternoon at three.
It was quite small, three guests in all,
I, myself and me.
Myself ate all the sandwiches and I drank all the tea.
It was also I, who ate the pie and past the cakes to me.’
For better or worse, married or single, may you enjoy all your parties throughout New Year 2019.