Many of you may not be aware, but as of now, we are almost one-third of the way through of what has been termed “engagement season,” the period of time between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day characterized by an influx of commercials commanding viewers to buy that $3,000 diamond ring for the future spouse. (It’s not just a wedding band, but also a symbol of an undying commitment that will additionally guarantee the happy couple a happy future and essentially eternal life together.) This time period, much like deer hunting season, is all about bagging the right game, then promptly and proudly displaying one’s catch — usually done via Facebook post — to the world. My general feelings toward this time of the year are effectively summed up in one photo, which was posted to Reddit. This picture was reportedly taken at the University of Tennessee, and since its posting Saturday, has attracted the attention of not only Reddit users but also major news sources.
Although most commenters of the picture have chosen to focus on the young woman in the far left corner, who is clearly fed up with the whirlwind of engagement excitement, let’s think about the brides-to-be that are depicted in the photo and take some time to lament what was once actually a meaningful institution. It’s all too likely that these engaged girls will eventually put an end to their marriages. According to the American Psychological Association, 40 to 50 percent of married couples in the United States get divorced.
It also seems that couples nowadays (especially the horrid “bridezillas”) are more obsessed with the engagement process — planning a wedding, compartmentalizing friends and acquaintances as guests or not guests, uploading and otherwise providing regular visual pre-wedding updates to social media — and essentially just getting a ring before spring, rather than working to ensure that the marriage itself will be a lasting one. The sanctity of marriage has been undermined relentlessly over the past few decades, and although the excitement of the future brides is not unwarranted, it’s rather unnatural that it’s almost truly uninhibited. Fascinatingly enough, according to a Pew Reasearch survey in 2010, nearly four in 10 Americans say marriage is becoming obsolete.
While married life continues to be cut short in untimely ways and people in general are just losing faith in the institution, marriages themselves paradoxically overall still generate an extravagant response socially.
But there’s hope! When looking at this topic further from a college student’s perspective, one can easily identify the benefits higher education has on marriages and all things associated with marriage. According to Harvard Magazine, matrimonial and childbearing practices are both changing in the United States. For example, now 57 percent of women with up to a high school degree are unmarried when they have their first child. Furthermore, college-educated women don’t have to worry so much about what has popularly been dubbed being “forever alone.” By age 30, in fact, women with a college degree are significantly more likely to be married than any other group.
There are clearly some conflicting ideas present in all of society regarding the topic of matrimony. Although the institution is clearly persisting through a variety of challenges and the changing societal trends, it has undoubtedly been weakened. This makes the prospect of engagement season somewhat comical and not just extremely irritating, as demonstrated by the young woman in the image mentioned above. Clearly, the picture has a variety of implications, not necessarily intended by those pictured. The woman whose gesture in the picture that has caught national attention was probably more on the wavelength of Leslie Knope of “Parks and Recreation,” who observed in one episode: “Every time a couple gets married, two single people die.”
Briana Reilly (reillybrianar