The best marriage advice we can offer after all these years of research and writing is this, DON’T GROW OLD BY YOURSELF! Life is too short to spend it alone.
The simple truth is this—growing old alone is a death sentence. Such a state is worse than having a dreaded disease. Trust us when we say this, being alone at the end of days is a fate worse than death. Here’s why.
Okay, we are madly in love after all these years! We have been married for over 49 years and we cannot imagine life without each other. We are each other’s constant companions and wouldn’t want it any other way!
But we must admit, we often think about “all the lonely people” who are, in their advanced age, all alone. They have no one with whom to share his or her days and nights with. Worse yet, no one to share their advancing age with.
On a recent trip to our neighborhood Starbuck’s we were struck by the number of people there who were by themselves. These weren’t old people with a dead spouse, they were people in their 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s who were accompanied by no one! They sat by themselves sipping their latte, reading the newspaper or a book, or checking their email.
In all the times we have gone to this bustling coffee shop we noticed the same thing, but never did anything about it until today. We decided to follow up our experience by sharing our thoughts about seeing so many lonely and alone people in one space.
Is this the new America? Is this the way it’s going to be in the 21st Century? The answers to these questions are worth pursuing we think.
We begin by asking this simple question – why are there so many people spending their days alone? Is it our imagination or are we truly on to some profound changes going on in our society?
It is clear; the rate of those getting married in our society is declining. According to the University of Virginia study entitled The State of Our Unions 2010 marriage has been on the decline since the 1960’s.
For example, marriage today among white males and white females has dropped some 20% overall since the 60’s.
The marriage decline is even more pronounced for Black males during this same time frame where marriage is down 40% overall.
Even more dramatic is the marriage decline for Black women where marriage is down over 50% since the 1960’s.
Part of the aforementioned declines is due to people getting married at an older age than in the 1960’s. People getting married at the ages of 15, 16, 17, and 18 are much less prevalent in our society today than they were in 1960, and that fact is probably a good thing.
The significant declines in marriage among African-Americans and among the American middle class are the two most troubling declines. While getting married later in life is a good thing that has lead to higher success rates in marriage, not getting married at all is not good for people and not good for America. In Middle America and among the African-American community, marriage is in trouble!
These are the five major conclusions one can draw from the University of Virginia study:
- Marriage is an emerging dividing line between America’s moderately educated middle and those with college degrees.
- Marital quality is declining for the moderately educated middle but not for their highly educated peers.
- Divorce rates are up for moderately educated Americans, relative to those who are highly educated.
- The moderately educated middle is dramatically more likely than highly educated Americans to have children outside of marriage.
- The children of highly educated parents are now more likely than in the recent past to be living with their mother and father, while children with moderately educated parents are far less likely to be living with their mother and father.
Their most stunning summary statement of the report reads as follows:
“So the United States is increasingly a separate and unequal nation when it comes to the institution of marriage. Marriage is in danger of becoming a luxury good attainable only to those with the material and cultural means to grab hold of it. The marginalization of marriage in Middle America is especially worrisome, because this institution has long served the American experiment in democracy as an engine of the American Dream, a seedbed of virtue for children, and one of the few sources of social solidarity in a nation that otherwise prizes individual liberty.”
Just imagine—the most fundamental and central component of American society—the glue of our socialization process for the total of American history (and for nearly 6000 years of recorded world history) has been marriage. There has been no more important “glue” for the social structure of America than marriage. Any threat to the sanctity or importance of marriage between two people puts our society at risk.
In the end, we believe the University of Virginia should have added a 6th conclusion: There is great danger for the Republic when people in love choose to stay “single” and not make the commitment of love so prevalent in our history as a nation.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that the great social traditions of America will continue without marriage. Don’t think that spending most of your life without someone is good for you or good for America. Everybody needs somebody. Of that you can be sure.
Marriage between two people who love each other has been an enduring element in the success of America from the beginning of our great country. There are many reasons to support marriage as an institution, but perhaps the most important reason is this – you will not grow old by yourself – the most compelling reason of a
ll in our estimation.
In the end, it is of utmost importance to all of us to have someone who loves us, has our best interests at heart, commits to being our life’s companion, is our advocate, stays with us through thick and thin, and is there for us during the ending stages of our life.
We are reminded again of the lyrics from Neil Diamond’s 1972 song, Morningside, “The old man died. And no one cried. They simply turned away” (Prophet Music, Inc. (ASCAP)).
By Dr. Charles and Dr. Elizabeth Schmitz
America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts
For more tips to enhance your relationship visit SimpleThingsMatter.com and get the best-selling and multiple award-winning book, Building a Love that Lasts. Discover what happily married women know about what makes a man marriage material and learn other revealing truths in How to Marry the Right Guy.
No one wants to grow old alone. We would dare say that most everyone wants someone to be their companion when they grow old. To cry for them when they die.
Don’t grow old by yourself. Find someone to love. Life is too short to spend it alone.