Skip to comments.Are Modern Standards Too High?
Posted on 02/15/2007 10:19:33 AM PST by qam1
It can be argued, and without a hint of mockery, that the commitment crisis befalling the current marrying generation could come down to a question of deodorant.
And it's a big question.
Blinking at the vast rows of tubes in the pharmacy aisle, there are many considerations: Stick or aerosol? Regular or scented? Sea Breeze or Powder Fresh? Newfangled body spray or old-fashioned antiperspirant?
The options feel endless. And overwhelming.
The same can be said of the modern state of dating and mating and trying to marry, says Jillian Strauss, author of "Unhooked Generation: The Truth About Why We're Still Single."
"We live in a multiple-choice society, and our options are totally paralyzing us," Strauss says. "And because we have so many choices, we raise our expectations."
Experts believe those mounting expectations factor heavily in the nation's declining marriage rate. Today, Americans look to their partners to be everything: best friends and lovers, protectors and counselors. They want marriages anchored in romance yet practically organized around family and finances.
"One of the fundamental problems about marriage today is that we have a very high standard of what it should be," says David Popenoe, a co-director of the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University. "And that kind of marriage is actually unique in the history [of the institution]. In times past, a spouse was just someone who could help you get through life. It was a sexual and work partnership more than anything.
"But today, it's an emotional partnership. That's much harder to maintain."
And much harder to find, says Strauss. "We don't really need marriage for financial stability or status. We want it because we think it will make us happy," she says. "That's a [higher] bar to set. How can something make us happy all the time?"
Still, Strauss' generation digs through the masses of singles in search of it. As much as they've treasured their independence, as they brush against and into their 30s, they're wondering why they haven't been able to find that connection yet. And why it seemed so easy for their parents' generation.
The answer, says Strauss, is there's a lot stacked up against Generation X. Many values and ideals they were raised with go against the nature of marriage and the ingredients that make it work.
A successful marriage takes compromise, but her generation was raised to believe it is a dirty word. Marriage is about working as a team, but they were raised to think in terms of "I." Marriage is about consistency and companionship. Gen Xers crave change and value their independence.
And marriage requires tolerance. But Strauss says her peers stand at its threshold with a lofty checklist of unwavering standards. Singles today shop for mates like they do houses and cars. They log onto internet dating sights or Google potential partners, getting information that was never available to their parents' generation.
An opposing political affiliation, a misspelled word in an e-mail, a hobby that doesn't match their own - all these things gleaned at an instant, and all grounds to pull out of a relationship, or never plug in in the first place.
"We've started to commodify our partners. And we think we can have every single thing we want in a mate," says Strauss. If they disappoint, "we think there's an upgrade out there, just like a cellphone."
It comes back to a question of options. Whereas previous generations might have had 10 people to choose from at party, hers has hundreds to choose from on Match.com. They have to whittle them down somehow.
"You think, `I've waited this long. I'm not going to settle now. I'm going to wait for the right person'," says Strauss. "All the options seem to say the perfect person is out there."
Are We Asking Too Much?
Isn't this too much expectation put upon one person, upon one relationship? It might be, says Stephanie Coontz, author of "Marriage, A History: From Obedience to Intimacy, or How Love Conquered Marriage."
Yet, she's not an advocate of lowering expectations. "I have studied the 4,000 years of marriage where people did not expect any kind of fairness or fulfillment," says Coontz. "Some people might have managed to carve out a good marriage anyway, but it also meant a lot of people put up with some truly miserable marriages."
What she advocates is that people broaden expectations of relationships they have outside of romantic partnerships. No one person can meet every single need. The belief that they should, Coontz says, is a new one that's developed only in the last 30 years.
"More married people are cocooning with each other than ever before. And fewer married people say they have other friends and confidantes outside of marriage," says Coontz. "And that's probably a bad thing. Somehow we've gone from one extreme to the other."
From not expecting enough to expecting far too much.
But this does not have to spell gloom for modern-day courtship in America, says Strauss. "All these obstacles exist out there, seeming to conspire against our finding love. But it's all within ourselves to change it," she says.
Flip the paradigm, Strauss says. Embrace compromise, celebrate change. Come to terms with the fact that a committed relationship does not have to equate boredom, that swinging singledom is not always so swinging.
Take a risk - on mates, on their inevitable foibles, on easing some standards of that unwavering checklist.
Ping list for the discussion of the politics and social (and sometimes nostalgic) aspects that directly effects Generation Reagan / Generation-X (Those born from 1965-1981) including all the spending previous generations are doing that Gen-X and Y will end up paying for.
Freep mail me to be added or dropped. See my home page for details and previous articles.
I rather like THIS old-fashioned approach:
A good woman is hard to find,
and worth far more than diamonds.
Her husband trusts her without reserve,
and never has reason to regret it.
Never spiteful, she treats him generously
all her life long.
She shops around for the best yarns and cottons,
and enjoys knitting and sewing.
She's like a trading ship that sails to faraway places
and brings back exotic surprises.
She's up before dawn, preparing breakfast
for her family and organizing her day.
She looks over a field and buys it,
then, with money she's put aside, plants a garden.
First thing in the morning, she dresses for work,
rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started.
She senses the worth of her work,
is in no hurry to call it quits for the day.
She's skilled in the crafts of home and hearth,
diligent in homemaking.
She's quick to assist anyone in need,
reaches out to help the poor.
She doesn't worry about her family when it snows;
their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear.
She makes her own clothing,
and dresses in colorful linens and silks.
Her husband is greatly respected
when he deliberates with the city fathers.
She designs gowns and sells them,
brings the sweaters she knits to the dress shops.
Her clothes are well-made and elegant,
and she always faces tomorrow with a smile.
When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say,
and she always says it kindly.
She keeps an eye on everyone in her household,
and keeps them all busy and productive.
Her children respect and bless her;
her husband joins in with words of praise:
"Many women have done wonderful things,
but you've outclassed them all!"
Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades.
The woman to be admired and praised
is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.
Give her everything she deserves!
Festoon her life with praises!
P.S. Could it be that 'deliberate in the city gates' is ancient code for more men to be involved in FREEPING? ;^)
if it wern't for women, we;d all be drunks, gamblers and all around reprobates. But hte upside is that ther'd be no tupperware parties. If a man is alone in the woods, and he says something, is he still wrong?
The secular left spend 30 years indoctrinating children against the traditional family and then wonder why those same children, when grown, don't pursue it. What really gets me is that they are so busy with their theoretical social agendas that they forget that actions have real consequences.
You say that like its a bad thing.
This is even more old-fashioned (KJV)
10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.
12 She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
13 She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.
14 She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar.
15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.
16 She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.
17 She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.
18 She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.
19 She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.
20 She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.
22 She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.
24 She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.
25 Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.
26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.
29 Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.
30 Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.
Yes, modern women seem to be very picky. Men are not. All a man wants is a deaf-mute with large boobs who owns a liquor store and a golf-course.
Too high? I don't know if I would want to be with any woman that what accept me as a mate.
You forgot the Bass Boat.
"if it wern't for women, we;d all be drunks, gamblers and all around reprobates. "
That's totally NOT true! I'd be living at a boat dock on the Tennessee river watching TV from a beanbag chair with my dog. I don't gamble.
IMHO, it not just case "asking too much" its a case of "not giving enough."
Marriage - its not about you, your "needs" or your ego.
You are right. Not sure if there is any data to prove this, but I would guess that marriage rates might coincide along red-state, blue-state break downs in a manner that family size and abortion rates do.
I take no side on the issue, I'm mearely the messenger lol
"Men haven't changed. It's women who've gotten pickier. "
Ditto that. If I go a couple months without hearing "You don't do enough", its because the wife has cashed the life insurance policy. I serious don't know that I will encourage my kids, my boys inparticualar, to get married. Maybe if they go overseas and bring some old fashion girl home.
Probably more to do with Hollywood chick-flicks.
The script says the guy not only must be a good provider, but be drop dead handsome as well as being sensitive, romantic, caring, giving and totally understanding. The only guys like that in real-life already have boyfriends. ;~))
What do you expect of a generation raised to believe that everyone is above average? Rag-picking?
For that soundeth exactly unto like the woman I seeketh!
I use neither. Antiperspirant?....You're supposed perspire. It's healthy for your body. Good'ol "Old Spice DEODERANT" works fine.
living on a river boat is a gamble lol
Women can afford to be pickier because we don't "require" a man to support us, hold property for us, drive us around, etcetera. I don't see this as a bad thing. Some feminist types may turn it into a bad thing by carrying it too far, but it's still good. I got married at 23 which is not bad these days. If I'd had to get married at 18 to have someone to pay for my upkeep, I wouldn't have found my perfect match.
"I would guess that marriage rates might coincide along red-state, blue-state break downs in a manner that family size and abortion rates do."
Let's look on the bright side -- over time, there will be fewer liberals, and more conservatives. We just have to be patient, and do more of what comes naturally...
and if it weren't for women, i'd be rich!
I'd hope to be deaf too so I didnt have to listen to you lame ass attempts at humor.
The only men who want that are the ones who spend a lot of time on FR bitching and complaining about the lack of good American women, while they look at internet porn in their mothers' basements.
My point exactly.
So again... men haven't changed. Women have.
Im still very young (20), but the prospect of even a girlfriend right now dosent even seem appealing. I just got out of a soul-sucking year-long relationship. I may never get married haha. (sarcastically). But seriously, women these days seem so demanding as the article states, its hard to impress.
May boundless good fortune be unto you in your quest.
Either that, or they are too darn far to the left, like here in Madison, WI.
We MUST stamp-out the evils of Lookism!
Don't try, it worked for me.
I'll have you know that I have my own basement....
I'm male. Most definitely. So you have your own basement? Good for you.
I'll have you know I've got my own basement, thank you.
You appear to lack a sense of humor -- lighten up, fellah.
I've got a sense of humor - just putting out a fire at work - sorry!
I seriously doubt it.
Who's coming back? Your comment to me indicates he's not Christian.