When women ask me as a 52-year-old male why I’ve never been married, it’s always insinuated that there’s something wrong with me, or I must be a swinging bachelor who just needs a good woman to show him the way.
Well, there may be plenty “wrong” with me, but that’s not why I’ve never gotten married. As for the swinging bachelor part, I do enjoy living in Las Vegas and the lifestyle I lead here, but it’s probably more like half a swing.
Instead, my career and family responsibilities are the biggest reasons why I never married. My dad died when I was 18, and my mom was the stay-at-home type who raised six kids and didn’t have a work career.
When your mom lives with you most of your life and needs to do so financially, it’s not conducive to getting married. My mom and girlfriends never mixed as it was – I can’t imagine how it would have been if I had married.
Mom’s no longer here. We just celebrated what would have been her 84th birthday on May 2. After she died in 2004, I met someone and talked marriage but couldn’t pull the trigger. By then, I’d grown accustomed to the freedom of doing what I wanted to do and also didn’t want to upend my life by moving from Las Vegas to Los Angeles. It’s hard to give up a job at my age and take a worse one with less pay, all while not knowing if a relationship will work out in a few years.
When you’ve had several friends from your childhood and college who’ve already married and divorced and don’t have any pleasant memories of the experience, it seemed like a lesson for me. I’m also at the age my dad was when he died, and I don’t want to bring kids into the world now.
That’s why a new study put out by Pew Research caught my attention. (Any study on marriage for adults over 50 gets my attention.) It shows that outside my circle of friends, in fact many people who were married before are tying the knot again. The latest numbers show that four in 10 new marriages include one partner who was married before. Drawing from the US Census, Pew says that about 42 million American adults have gone for a second marriage — or third, or fourth…
I guess someone has to pull the slack for my absence in that category. That number is up from 22 million in 1980 and has tripled since 1960 when 14 million people fit the category, according to Pew.
Since I’m (clearly) no expert on marriage and divorce, I will have to go by what the Pew researchers say. The numbers seem to be up because of the rise in divorce, which has become more socially acceptable over the decades. A lot of us as kids knew plenty of people who should have probably never stayed married but did so anyway because that’s not what people did back then.
But the other reason for more second marriages has to do with the aging of the population, which increases the number of widows and widowers, according to Pew.
And I always thought that getting married would shorten my lifespan.
Of the adults who are married currently, Pew says that about 23 percent have been married before, much higher than 13 percent of the total in 1960.
Overall, Pew talks about how marriage overall is in decline, but those who were previously married are “as willing as ever to jump back into wedlock.” I always say there are some people who aren’t happy unless they’re married, even if they were miserable and ended up getting a divorce.
Pew says about 57 percent of divorced or widowed adults are likely to remarry even though the share of adults who are getting married has fallen from 85 percent in 1960 to 70 percent in the most recent Census data. Despite that interest in marriage, there are 45 percent who say that because of their previous experience they never want to marry again.
And it’s the men who are more open to getting remarried! I guess it’s just the nature of some men to have a steady woman in their lives, and if a guy can’t cook, he wants someone who does. The study shows that 65 percent of previously married men want to remarry, but only 43 percent of women say so. That’s a big difference and likely reflects the experience those women had with their ex-husbands.
The numbers show that 64 percent of divorced or widowed men have remarried and 52 percent of women have. In 1960, some 70 percent of men and 48 percent of women who were previously married did so again.
Causing the difference in the numbers: yup, us baby boomers. There are way more adults over 50 these days.
It’s understandable to want a fulfilling relationship in one’s golden years. As people age, it’s nice to have companionship and someone to do things with and travel abroad. Finding love after 50 has also become much easier with online dating. The younger generation don’t seem to share our desire to partner up – Pew says that 50 percent of those previously married older adults had remarried, up from 34 percent in 1960. But the younger generation, between 25 and 34, aren’t getting remarried. Only 43 percent remarried compared to 75 percent in 1960.
Some of the more interesting stats of the study include the fact that 8 percent of those newly married have been married at least three or more times. And for those who are remarried, there tends to be a wider age gap compared to those in their first marriage.
Meaning: The man left for a younger woman — or she found an older husband.
So has this study changed my own viewpoint on marriage? I always tell people that the only way I would get married is looking down the barrel of a farmer’s shotgun.
Even then, I’m not sure of the decision I would make.
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