Should the Advice to Find a Husband in College be Controversial?
Feminists are, predictably, having what we in the deep South used to call a "hissy fit." They are reacting with rage and bombast to a letter published in The Daily Princetonian that advised coeds not to waste their college years where they are surrounded by a high "concentration of men who are worthy of you." Susan Patton, a graduate of the Princeton class of 1977, reminded the students that "the man you marry" will be "inextricably linked" to their future happiness. No. Really?
As a 20-year-veteran of the political arena in Washington, D.C., I have seen several generations of college graduates come to the nation's capital, where bright and intelligent men and women are overworked and underpaid to pursue their dream of making a mark on the world. Invariably, they are steeped in the current myths about "establishing their careers" and "becoming financially stable" before even thinking about marriage. When they finally - and belatedly - get around to pursuing a life-time partner, many find, however, a dearth of desirable potential husbands or wives (i.e., eligible in terms of equal/superior intelligence and education with compatible values and good prospects as a friend, mate, and parent). As each year passes, chasing professional advancement, the odds worsen for women of finding Mr. Right, even in this era of supposed gender equity. The cold hard facts are that men who've become established in their professions can usually much more easily than women find a pool of potential mates (usually younger) from which to choose.
Mark Regnerus pointed out in, Premarital Sex in America, there is a two-fold problem for women: First, the young men who chose not to sleep around tend to find a mate early; those who are left carry a lot of baggage from years of promiscuous sex with numerous other girls. Second, it is mainly the guys pushing "casual" sex, but it is the women who pay the larger price in terms of emotional costs, STDs, and the results of increased numbers of partners.
Successful marriages are based on mutual respect and common interests and values. Being "unequally yoked" (whether in intellect, education, faith, status, potential, or prospects) often makes for shaky, dysfunctional, and/or doomed relationships. Nobody wants to go back to the days where women went to college solely for the "Mrs." degree, but it is foolish for women to ignore the fact that after college they likely will never again be surrounded by as many guys who meet their criteria for marriage. Nor is it wise for young men to ignore the fact that they will never again have the opportunity to evaluate the characteristics of so many young women and choose one to cherish and grant the privilege of carrying their name, bearing their children, and sharing the ups and downs of life together.
In today's "hook-up" culture, young men and women have to buck not only the anti-marriage biases of their generation, they also have to buck the "sex without consequences" myths that short-circuits their ability to bond and creates emotional (and often physical) "baggage" that hurts their chances for the happy, fulfilling, life-time marriage that the majority ultimately want.
Here is a personal assessment by my husband of 50-plus years: "I don't get the controversy today. In college, I pursued - with great persistence - the girl I wanted to be my wife. Smartest thing I ever did. We were both 22-year-old virgins and flat broke when we married fresh out of college; all we had was the $100 my dad gave me as a wedding gift plus $300 my older brother loaned me. Persevering through the ups and downs, we built a wonderful and meaningful life that has been full of challenges and equally full of passion, joy, and the satisfaction of walking side-by-side, pursuing our career ambitions together, raising two great kids, and now enjoying our seven terrific grandchildren."