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Marriage by the Numbers May 30, 2006

Posted by Michael in News.

I remember the uproar created by a Newsweek article twenty years ago suggesting that the marital prospects for single 30+ females were dismal.  Turns out that Newsweek was unduly pessimistic. 

Somebody married Lipstick, after all.  Will kevlarchick, civetta or Feisty be next?

By Daniel McGinn


June 5, 2006 issue – When Laurie Aronson was 29, she had little patience for people who inquired why she still wasn't married. "I'm not a little spinster who sits home Friday night and cries," she'd say. As she passed 35, however, and one relationship after another failed to lead to the altar, she began to worry. "Things were looking pretty bleak," she says.

. . .

Twenty years ago this week, Aronson [now married] was one of more than a dozen single women featured in a NEWSWEEK cover story. In "The Marriage Crunch," the magazine reported on new demographic research predicting that white, college-educated women who failed to marry in their 20s faced abysmal odds of ever tying the knot. According to the research, a woman who remained single at 30 had only a 20 percent chance of ever marrying. By 35, the probability dropped to 5 percent. In the story's most infamous line, NEWSWEEK reported that a 40-year-old single woman was "more likely to be killed by a terrorist" than to ever marry. That comparison wasn't in the study, and even in those pre-9/11 days, it struck many people as an offensive analogy. Nonetheless, it quickly became entrenched in pop culture and is still routinely cited in TV shows and news stories.

Across the country, women reacted with fury, anxiety—and skepticism. "The popular media have invented a national marital crisis on the basis of a single academic experiment … of dubious statistical merit," wrote Susan Faludi, then a 27-year-old reporter at the San Jose Mercury News, who saw the controversy as one example of a backlash against feminism. Boston Globe columnist Ellen Goodman wrote: "How gleefully they warn that an uppity woman may be overqualified for the marriage market. Reach too high, young lady, and you'll end up in the stratosphere of slim  pickings."

Twenty years later, the situation looks far brighter. Those odds-she'll-marry statistics turned out to be too pessimistic: today it appears that about 90 percent of baby-boomer men and women either have married or will marry, a ratio that's well in line with historical averages. And the days when half of all women would marry by 20, as they did in 1960, only look more anachronistic. At least 14 percent of women born between 1955 and 1964 married after the age of 30. Today the median age for a first marriage—25 for women, 27 for men—is higher than ever before.

Marriage by the Numbers – Newsweek Society – MSNBC.com


1. Bart - May 30, 2006

Kevlarchick is without husband?

2. elzbth - May 30, 2006

Go for it, Bart.

3. kevlarchick - May 30, 2006

Sorry Bart. I done been hitched for 16 years. A child bride.

Mrs Peel, however…..

4. Mrs. Peel - May 30, 2006

I’m debating whether to be offended Michael didn’t include me in his list. On the other hand, he did imply that the women he listed were over 30, in which case I look forward to Feisty reading this post.

5. Lipstick - May 30, 2006

I remember this “study”. Everyone was all aflutter over it, and I didn’t care–I was going to be the cranky lady yelling at kids to get off her lawn, in between fantastic, exotic vacations.

Then I married the wonderful Mr. Lipstick, 6 years younger than me.

HA! I spit on your “studies”!! ptouie!

6. Lipstick - May 30, 2006

I will add some unsolicited advice here for the ladies:

NEVER move in with a man. If you don’t want to be married, you will find yourself in a situation where you are doing all the wifely things anyway.

If you DO want to marry him, you have just given him everything–for free.

7. kevlarchick - May 30, 2006

Go Lipstick! Amen on the co-habitation thing too.

I married a younger man too–but not six years. He would have been a minor at the age I was married. This isn’t Kentucky, after all.

8. blogidaho - May 30, 2006

Lipstick: Preach it Sistah.
Mrs. Geezer moved in with me first, but I asked her to marry me after I had only known her for a week.
A year later, we were married.
That was over 30 years ago.

9. HayZeus - May 30, 2006

you will find yourself in a situation where you will be subverting the household to reflect your own tastes and preferences anyway.

Fixed that for ya Lipstick. 😉

10. Dei B. - May 30, 2006

I had to learn the hard way about co-habitation. . . Of course we were doomed from the beginning.
I am approaching mid 30’s and I still want to get married. I always hear that when you meet that special someone, “YOU JUST KNOW THIER THE ONE.” These comments are encouraging….Thanks so much for sharing.
Personally, I believe that I am learning to be content with my current life. I enjoy spending time alone but there is always the yearning for companionship.

11. Pat - May 30, 2006

Why does all the hoopla solely focus on professional white women? There are other professional women (i.e. African American, Asian, Latina, Hispanic…) who are also confronting even harder challenges in finding a lifetime mate. Where are the stats for those women? If we are going to talk about the backlash on feminism…the trials and tribulations of finding a “husband” when you are a professional.. be offended by the statement that a woman over 40 is more likely to be attacked by terrorist than get married…we should be irate over the fact that the discourse excludes professional women of color.

12. absir - May 30, 2006

Hi all,
I’ have lived in other cultures prior coming here and some of the things I have found were related to this story that Marriage is hardly what it used to be. I agree with Pat 100% that this one focused on “professional white women”. Having seen other non white communities, I guarantee you however; others are similar provided. The key to the marriage problem and kids’ problems (drugs, sex) are: The fact that society moved away from what mattered (religion, family etc). For example, during 60-70, it was very common to see An American family that is married (no girlfriend/boy-friend) that cooks their food(no outside eating 2 times day) and that values things like sports, walking and not spending time in movies, clubs etc. Today, it’s reverse. I’m familiar with Islam: and there are 4 categories that one can choose wife (guess what the first one is?) 1. Religion, rest are:(beauty, Family, wealth). In addition, man may value things like her cooking ability and Woman may value his manners (not tempered, not stinchy etc). Can you imagine, most of the girls here don’t even thing cooking is big deal. I’m sorry guys, I might be old fashioned, but I hate eating outside and would love my wife to know this –that doesn’t mean that she will always cook(I’m willing to help too).
I recently visited: http://www.Islamonline.net Cyber counselor section, and was amazed some of the issues their counselors were dealing with in terms of marriage.


13. Anonymous - May 30, 2006

Dei B. –

This couple found each other, I’m sure there’s someone for you.


(no nudity, blood, profanity, etc)

14. Dei B. - May 30, 2006

Anonymous – – That’s funny.

As a professional woman of color, I too understand that It’s not just a white woman issue, it’s a stereotype that society has placed on women since the authorship of Cinderella, if you ask me. Lot’s of women are looking for the fairy tale, live happily ever after romance. When the truth is, all women must wake up and realize life is no crystal stairway and that the man with everything we’re looking for in a mate does not exist….if he did have everything, what growth would there be to do with someone? What would we have to discover about him and him about us. . . . I’D PROBABLY END UP HATING THE PERFECT GUY . . . . . .
There is too much hype in being married by a certain age and having children… I feel that Sarah and Abraham are a role model couple(she was in her 70’s and he was over 100), when it comes to women that aren’t married by a certain age that society has deemed normal. Miracles happen every day, to women over 40 and ever day that whole chance of birth defects is proven a myth.

15. sandy burger - May 30, 2006

I don’t know what to say about pre-marital cohabitation. I’ve done it with quite a few girlfriends. And, you know, we didn’t end up married, so make of that what you will.

Lipstick, good job with the younger guy. Most women I’ve dated have been about my age, maybe a few years younger, but my last serious girlfriend was 8 years older than me, and it was pretty sweet.

16. steve_in_hb - May 30, 2006

Dei B. –

1) Anonymous #13 was me, I forgot my handle.

2) You hate the perfect guys eh? Then this is the place for you to hang out.

17. Michael - May 30, 2006

Steve makes a good point, Dei B. If you feel at home with guys who have plenty of room for "growth," you've found the right crew.  I'm sure any of our female readers can attest to this.

So, you're a professional woman of color. Tell us more about your hooters self.

18. geoff - May 30, 2006

I lived with my SO for several years and then we got married, so the old why-buy-the-cow-when-you-can-get-the-milk-for-free argument didn’t really work out that way in our case. Living together, then getting married, seemed like a natural progression and an excellent way to shake out compatibility issues.

19. steve_in_hb - May 30, 2006

“…and an excellent way to shake out compatibility issues.”

So thats how you describe the process of Mrs. Geoff breaking your spirit 😉

I once tried to explain to a female coworker how much of boyfriend/husband behavior is motivated by the desire to stop talking about an issue. She thought her husband was being persuaded by her arguements, when he actually was just willing to do anything in order to stop having to talk about their disagreement, what it meant in the big picture, what her sister thought about it, etc.

The ladies are the guerilla fighters of the debate/arguement world. Defeated on every individual point, but their persistence saps the enemy’s will to fight.

I’ve seen it happen to all my friends, and if I’m lucky enought to find a lady to make me her project, I expect it will happen to me.

20. geoff - May 30, 2006

So thats how you describe the process of Mrs. Geoff breaking your spirit

Yeah, by “shake out compatibility issues” I really mean “see how much you can take.” (I keed, I keed) She, on the other hand, had to see if she could put up with my complete oblivion to dirt.

21. sandy burger - May 30, 2006

Something odd I’ve noticed:

So, normally when I go to this web page, the “name” field is already filled in with “sandy burger”. But sometimes, it comes filled in with “steve_in_hb”, which is a little odd, because I’m not Steve, and I’ve never posted as steve_in_hb.

Steve, have you been using my computer? Because, if you’re gonna be using my work computer to post on IB, you might as well answer a few emails for me, too.

22. steve_in_hb - May 30, 2006

sandy –

So you want a guy who loves posting smutty links answering your work email for you?

I’ve had that field prepopulate with a name besides mine also. Everytime its happened, it’s been Bart. Do you use the Google toolbar with autofill enabled? I figure it’s either that or the Windows AutoComplete stuff is getting whacked out.

23. Mrs. Peel - May 30, 2006

You won’t catch me cohabiting without a ring. In fact, there are an awful lot of things you won’t catch me doing before I have that ring.

Ah, the joys of the Mrs. Peel Lifestyle…

24. Lipstick - May 30, 2006

“you will find yourself in a situation where you will be subverting the household to reflect your own tastes and preferences anyway.”

heh heh Zeus. You have to start slowly. So far I’ve replaced the cheap toilet paper with the good Charmin and bought a nice toothbrush holder.

I’ll wait awhile, then my tentacles will extend to other areas of the house, mwahahaha.

25. sandy burger - May 30, 2006

I don’t use the google toolbar (I don’t even use google.com). I’m guessing it’s WordPress, somehow. But you should change your locks, anyhow. Bart may not be using your computer, but he’s almost certainly been sneaking around your home.

26. steve_in_hb - May 30, 2006

For you unattached ladies, here are some eligible bachelors friends I can hook you up with. They are all down to earth and low maintenance, but a little rough around the edges. I’m in the middle with glasses. Mrs. Peel, we are probably too old for you, but who knows.


27. Michael - May 30, 2006

What is that, Steve, your Boy Scout troop?

28. Muslihoon - May 30, 2006

There should be a law requiring people to adhere to certain standards before being allowed to expose flesh.

29. steve_in_hb - May 30, 2006

Michael –

I told you, it’s me and my friends. So we look a little rough, we are still nice guys.

Muslihoon –

I know I have a weight problem, I’m doing my best to work on it.

30. Bart - May 30, 2006

what her sister thought about it, etc.

Stupid families with their sisters and mothers.
Leave it to a sister (or three) and mother to sabotage a good relationship.

Yeah, that field sometimes has someone else name in it. It’s usually the person who I am thinking about at the time. Oddly enough, none of the girls’ names have been there, yet.

31. steve_in_hb - May 30, 2006

Bart –

I have an MBA in Finance/Stats. When I was married, I was the junior member of a three person team which made investment allocation decisions for a $50 billion portfolio.

My wife’s sister was a high school graduate who worked as a store clerk until she got married in early twenties. She never read anything except People, Cosmo, etc. She couldn’t tell you the difference between a stock and bond.

Who’s advice do you think my wife took when making allocation decisions for her 401(k)?

32. Bart - May 30, 2006

Oh yeah, I know.
I was in love…once. (I’ll never do that again). Anyway, the love-of-my-life and I got along very well until her stupid family decided they didn’t like it. To this day, I think it was jealousy.

Eventually, everything I did, we did, was under the microscope of the sisters and mother. It was like she had to consult with her counsel before making even the smallest decisions — like, spending the day with me.

It became clear to me what was going on, and I got obsessed with me winning the girl and them losing her. It got to the point where it was like a game, and the girl was caught in the middle.

But I couldn’t compete at their level of poisoning her against me. I knew if it came down to me or them, she would choose them. And that’s how it should be, no matter how much of a bunch of douche bags they were.

As soon as I lost her trust and loyalty, I knew it was over. I’m funny like that. Maybe it’s the Sicilain in me, but loyalty is the most important thing in all relationships. I can’t have my girlfirend or wife going back to her stupid family and blabbing our business and secon-guessing me all the time. If I was a shithead and a bum, I would understand. But I’m not.

33. HayZeus - May 31, 2006

So far I’ve replaced the cheap toilet paper with the good Charmin

Wow, you’re braver than I thought. I don’t know if I could put up with anyone that was hygiene-challenged enough to use cheap toilet paper. While Charmin is out because the fiancée doesn’t like it casa de HZ only stocks Quilted Northern or Cottonelle. If things get really hairy (read: the local store is out of the good stuff) then we might stoop to Angel Soft but that’s pushing it.

34. Feisty - May 31, 2006

Steve, your portfolio management qualifications turn me on.

I’m 26, and if I’m not married by 30, will you marry me?!?! I don’t even care if you’re a “small cap stock” downtown.

35. geoff - May 31, 2006

Steve, your portfolio management qualifications turn me on.

Time for the Innocent Bystanders’ Investment Club.

36. steve_in_hb - May 31, 2006

Bart –

It sucks. Before we were married, my wife’s mom would slap her around because she was with an “American”. After we were married, she accepted me because 1) she had no choice 2) I was very financially responsible. But I could never forget that she hit the only person I’ve ever loved, and was practicing ongoing emotional abuse towards her. I could be polite to my mother-in-law at holidays, family dinners, etc, but was incapable of being her buddy.

My wife’s mom emotionally abused her for her whole life. My wife and I couldn’t have an arguement that didn’t devolve in to me holding her while the years of pain came out. Her way of dealing with it,”The house next to my parents is for sale, and I want us to buy it. That way we can have dinner with my family 3-4 nights a week.”

I felt like I was with an alcoholic or drug addict who kept going back to the thing that was hurting them. No matter what I did, she felt driven to try to win her mom’s approval/love. Eventually, I realized that although my wife loved me, her Mom would always be #1 and I would be #1A. She expected that I would enable and participate in her fruitless, self-destructive quest to win the Dragon Lady’s approval.

She used to say to me, “Steve, when you walk in a room, you don’t care if people there like you or not. As matter of fact, you do stuff to make people dislike you just because you think its funny. When I walk in to a room, I feel like I have to make everybody love me. Not like me, love me.”

37. Feisty - May 31, 2006

My dad’s mail order bride (don’t ask, my family’s fucked up, K? K.) used to be tied to trees by her mom in Thailand as a youngin’. Her mom would throw bugs on her which would chew on her flesh for hours in the hot sun. This is in addition to the regular beatings, of course.

Her sister, who suffered a similar fate, ran away, went into prostitution at the age of 15 and died of AIDS.

So, how ’bout them Twins?!

38. steve_in_hb - May 31, 2006

Feisty –

What’s foreplay going to be – credit derivative pricing, asset correlations, MBS convexity, etc? You can sit on my lap and coo while I walk you through the code that I wrote to price tranches in structured airline deals. How about analyzing the hedging strategy of a bank that credits cd’s based on the College Inflation Index – is that what gets your engine running? I know nothing gets a woman going like bond math and code.

I have to be careful here, I’m revealing a side different than smut clips and drunken rants. Let me close the curtain. Nothing to see here.

39. steve_in_hb - May 31, 2006

Feisty –

Vaguely related – Asian girl, tree, etc. I met a Filipina who told me her first orgasm came when she was climbing up a guava tree – legs wrapped around it, rubbing, etc. It felt so good she started climbing the tree constantly. Her mom figured out what she was doing and came out with a long stick and tried to knock her out of the tree.

Routinely she would be grinding against the tree, only to have her mom suddenly appear yelling and swinging a stick. This was her explanation for why she was such a good climber.

40. sandy burger - May 31, 2006

Do you still miss your ex?

A. No, I’m better off on my own
B. No, honey, of course not
C. No, not since I met Trixie
D. Only when I’m sober

41. Feisty - May 31, 2006

..is that what gets your engine running?

Yes, yes it does, actually. That’s stuff I know nothing about and listening to an expert over a couple of Jaggerbombs would totally get me in the mood…to invest…then…do it hardcore on the countertops with briefcases flyin’.

42. Feisty - May 31, 2006

What’s foreplay going to be

If you start going into that stuff over dinner—>>skip the foreplay, it would be wholly unnecessary.

43. steve_in_hb - May 31, 2006

sandy –

I miss her damn near every day. Like I said, she’s the only person I’ve ever loved. Unfortunately, despite our love for each other, we couldn’t make it work and we can’t be together. We haven’t spoken/emailed in 3 years.

Do you look anything like the guy in this video at the 2:33 point. For some reason that’s the face I associate with you – weed, long hair, etc.


44. Dave in Texas - May 31, 2006

what’s foreplay?

45. Feisty - May 31, 2006

what’s foreplay?

That’s where the guy pays in full IN ADVANCE.

Ah…teens smoking weed. RWS’s head just exploded.

46. Dave in Texas - May 31, 2006

oh that, cash flow management. got it

47. Feisty - May 31, 2006

Steve–Sorry about your woman….

The one good thing about being a dirty hooker is that you don’t have any time to fall in love with anyone….MEH

48. steve_in_hb - May 31, 2006

Feisty –

1) Foreplay – “Oh so you’re one them freaks, get geeked at the sight of ATM receipts”.

2) Sorry – No need to be sorry, God has a plan for me. Oh wait, I’m an athiest. Shit, I am screwed.

3) Finance – Tell you what, I’ll give you the full on investment buy side experience. I’ll ditch the cargo shorts, tshirt, and flip flops and get the old pinstripe out. I’ll dust off an old pitch book and play investment banker.

We’ll have lunch in a private dining room at the Four Seasons and I’ll talk about a slam dunk way of making money. The market mispricing default risk has created a great opportunity in synthetic credit default swap structures – 7-10% tranche. As I walk through the PowerPoint presentation you’ll follow along in a nicely bound booklet full of graphs and tables of numbers. It’s a very polite, civilized approach to me attempting to give you a deep and thorough ass raping.

And don’t worry baby, I ‘ll keep calling and sending you Christmas gifts and taking you to conferences in nice places. After all, I never know when I might need a little something something. My bank is stuck long a bunch of airline paper? Give Feisty a call and talk to her about the great opportunities in airlines. A bigger client is desperate to issue some structured deal, but can’t find a sucker to buy the crappy pieces? Give Feisty a call.

Obviously, I’m somewhat cynically exaggerating the process, but not by much. My job was to be the one who called bullshit. To know more about the financial engineering behind the products than the investment banks sales guys, so I could cut them out of the conversation and get down to the nuts and bolts with the bank’s quant guys. To develop an intuitive understanding of the math/finance behind the product and explain it to the people I worked for.

49. sandy burger - May 31, 2006

Steve, I have no idea what any of that finance stuff meant, which is probably why I’m not a rich man. But I do know that I’d call Feisty before I’d call the ex-wife, that much is certain. Also, that video rocked. I don’t know who was at 2:33, though, since my media player is being dificult. But if you want a semi-accurate description of me, think Shaggy from Scooby Doo. With greenish skin.

Oh, and Bart, it sounds like you deserved to sleep with the sisters and mother, too. I mean, it’s only fair.

Dei B., Sarah and Abraham rock. I’ve seen a number of older folks getting married lately; it’s so cute, because they actually seem comfortable in their own skin, if that makes sense.

50. Feisty - May 31, 2006

….get the old pinstripe out. I’ll dust off an old pitch book and play investment banker.

Hottest role playing action ever. What shall I dress up as? The dirty secretary? Or should I play the naughty businesswoman: All business in that Chanel suit in the meeting, all slutty and Fredricks of Hollywood after-hours.

It’s a very polite, civilized approach to me attempting to give you a deep and thorough ass raping.

‘Tis good that you thought to rent the private dining room as we may need some time to, ahem, discuss without any prying eyes. I want to see your graphs, your flip-charts, and your….you know. Ass-rapings can be discussed once you make my portfolio throb with assets.

51. Bart - May 31, 2006

Fistey, dress up like a pirate…banker.

Yeah, that’s the ticket — a pirate banker.

steve will dig that. Trust me.

(p.s. Don’t shave your legs and pits for about three weeks, too. steve loves a woman with a little fur.

52. steve_in_hb - May 31, 2006

Feisty –

I’ll go with the businesswoman with the skirt that’s just a little too short to be acceptable. Oh, and some clunky geek glasses.

How are you going to juggle all this with the collection of comic book outfits you need to satisfy Ace’s roleplaying needs?

Bart –

I don’t think the pirate thing would work. I don’t mind some nail marks on my shoulders, but I draw the line at a hook in the back.

53. Feisty - June 1, 2006

How are you going to juggle all this with the collection of comic book outfits you need to satisfy Ace’s roleplaying needs?

I highly doubt I could ever satisfy Snuggly’s high roleplaying standards. I’m pessimistic in that respect.

‘Sides, if I had a choice between being the Robin to Snuggly’s Batman or the Naughty MBA-holding Feisty from Mergers and Acquisitions, I’d totally choose the latter. Office action is hot.

54. lace wigs - September 26, 2009

what’s being reported now is that children are being conceived out of wedlock at all ages.

55. Eddie The Bear - September 26, 2009

^Hey, welcome over here, pal

56. Lipstick - September 26, 2009

Ha! Just re-read the thread. I miss Feisty and Steve and HeyZeus and Sandy.

And we still use the good toilet paper.

57. Michael - September 26, 2009

Hey, French Guiana showed up on the Flag Counter!

That was the last flag in South America that we did not have. We now have North America, South America and Europe completely covered.

58. Lipstick - September 26, 2009


59. Lipstick - September 26, 2009

Vatican City?

60. Lipstick - September 26, 2009

San Marino?

61. d3ft punk - September 26, 2009

Ah, yeah, thank you auto–generated content for taking me down memory lane with my old Fiesty.

Yes, I spelled that wrong. And yes, it was our thing for me to spell it wrong, and her to get mad and yell something in French (because I hate and refuse to learn French). Then she’d try to get me to talk about dirty stuff. Last I heard, she was doing well in her non–made–up real–world life.

I still miss her.

62. Michael - September 27, 2009

We have 2 visitors from Andorra, 3 from Greenland, 1 from San Marino. Nothing from the Vatican, but I don’t think that counts as a country.

63. PattyAnn - September 27, 2009

Hell, even the Hostages have Vatican City. And it has its own flag. We have it.

64. geoff - September 27, 2009

Hell, even the Hostages have Vatican City.

They were probably trying to exorcise the site.

65. Mrs. Peel - September 27, 2009

Yes, the Vatican absolutely does count as a country. It even has its own intelligence service. For a while, we had the second-best intelligence because we had someone in the best intelligence – the Vatican’s.

Michael - September 27, 2009

Oh shut up. That Vatican does not count as a country at IB because I’m the Site Administrator and I say so. So there.

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