Delaying Marriage — Another Look at the Costs

Danielle Crittenden, author of What Our Mothers Didn’t Tell Us, has written a must-read article, “The Cost of Delaying Marriage.” The article has recently been republished by This is an issue I address often, and I appreciate Crittenden’s thoughtful analysis — as well as her perspective as a woman.
Crittenden [married to David Frum, by the way], observes that, as recently as the 1950s, most young women married early. Her analysis:
In this sense, we lead lives that are exactly the inverse of our grandmothers’. If previous generations of women were raised to believe that they could only realize themselves within the roles of wife and mother, now the opposite is thought true: It’s only outside these roles that we are able to realize our full potential and worth as human beings. A 20-year-old bride is considered as pitiable as a 30-year-old spinster used to be. Once a husband and children were thought to be essential to a woman’s identity, the source of purpose in her life; today, they are seen as peripherals, accessories that we attach only after our full identities are up and running.
The article is really important. Her intelligent celebration of marriage is refreshing: What we rarely hear – or perhaps are too fearful to admit – is how liberating marriage can actually be. As nerve-wracking as making the decision can be, it is also an enormous relief once it is made. The moment we say, “I do,” we have answered one of the great crucial questions of our lives: We now know with whom we’ll be spending the rest of our years, who will be the father of our children, who will be our family.