A few weeks ago, my husband and I went to Las Vegas to celebrate a momentous occasion, our 44th anniversary. Now let me preface this by saying, that being married to the same person for 44 years for most of us seems like an oxymoron.
In Vegas, whenever we were asked, what occasion were we celebrating, our response was met with chuckles, awe, and satirical one liners such as “Are you sure you mean 44 consecutive years???? We felt like mini celebrities.
As a result of all of the hoopla regarding our anniversary, I started to give the idea of marriage some thought. I would venture a guess that most of us baby boomers were married while in our early to late twenties. In “my day” an unmarried 30-year-old woman was often met with “you poor girl, can’t you meet anyone, maybe your cousin can fix you up?” The thought of not being married, for many, was unconscionable and I often wonder if that fact contributed to the ever-increasing divorce rate.
Baby Boomers occupy a unique period in time. The preceding “Silent Generation” or traditional generation, for the most part, consisted of an income earning father and a stay at home mother who performed most of the child rearing and household duties. Grandparents and extended family often lived in the “neighborhood” or close enough to positively impact the family unit. It was indeed a village raising a child.
Baby Boomers on the other hand were the change agents of the time and turned the traditional concept of family on its ear. In the 1960’s, 1970s and early 1980s the feminist movement made tremendous strides as it shone the spotlight on women being denied equal pay for equal work, being relegated to “traditional” careers i.e. teacher, nurse, secretary, and the pervasive gender discrimination in education, sports, finance, and even the grounds for divorce which were weighted against women.
Baby Boomers stood on the shoulders of the Betty Friedan’s and Gloria Steinem’s who paved the way and pried the door open so that as of 1982 as per the Department of Education, women outpaced men as college graduates and do so to this very day. As women’s roles changed so did the concept of a traditional family. With women becoming more financially independent, the divorce rate began to rise. No wonder people are actually surprised at the thought that we are married for 44 years!
Over the years as some of my friend’s marriages succumbed to divorce I’ve wondered why them and not us. To me, marriage is like an EKG machine with its ups and downs and shortened periods of bumps along the way. Throw children, careers, finances, pets, dreams or lack thereof in the mix and it’s a wonder any marriage survives. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that divorce is actually on the decline. In the 1980’s the divorce rate, according to an article written by Sarah Jacoby “actually peaked about 40%.” Age, educational level, and believe it or not, where you live, all factor into the rate of divorce. New York, New Jersey, Utah, California, and North Dakota have some of the lowest divorce rates!
Maybe today’s Gen-Xers and Millennials are on to something. Delaying marriage while in the pursuit of higher education, career goals and financial stability have become more important than getting marriage. Their willingness to co-habitat to pool resources has become widely accepted. Living together before marriage may be the single most contributing factor to the declining divorce rate!
As my husband and I spent a whirlwind 4 day stay in the city that never sleeps, Celine Dion, the Motown Review-Hitzville, the penny slots (we’re too frugal for anything else) and of course Ben and Jerry’s reminded us of just how fortunate we were and are.
Forty-four years, 3 children, 2 grandchildren, my sister, in-laws, nieces, nephews and great friends round out our lives. Taking the time to celebrate life is indeed its own blessing.
What occasion are you celebrating? An anniversary, the birth of a child, a promotion at work?
Please share your accomplishments in the comments section below so we can celebrate together.