Getting married while trying to obtain any sort of degree will upset a women’s timetable.
“ It makes more sense to a lot of women to say, ‘wait a minute, I have to do things in a certain order. I think the first thing I have to do is get my education out of the way and get my career started,’” says Dr. Felix M. Berardo, a professor of sociology at the University of Florida.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the percent of females 25 years old and over who have completed four years of college or more has dramatically increased over the past 62 years. From 4.9 percent in 1940, to 18.7 percent in 1975 and finally to 31.8 percent in 2003.
A lot of traditional obstacles to female employment have fallen over the years. Economic conditions in society that require greater numbers of women to work outside the home are creating new roles. As this has taken place women have increasingly entered the labor force and have discovered the benefits of having their own paychecks.
“Women today are much more economically independent than they were in the past, so they don't need marriage as much to survive,” comments Dr. Constance L. Shehan, a sociology professor at the University of Florida.
Also, many women are entering nontraditional occupations at a rate never before seen in the United States, according to the 1999 Statistical Abstract of the U.S. For example, women today make up over 26 percent of the doctors and 29 percent of the mathematicians and computer scientists in the country.
“Attitudes toward sexuality outside of marriage have become very tolerant, so people can be sexually active without being married,” Shehan says.
Of course, with greater premarital sexuality always comes the worry of unwanted pregnancies. However, these worries have been greatly reduced over the past couple of years because of the increased opportunities for abortion and greater knowledge and availability of contraceptives.
Over the last three and a half centuries, the meaning and place of sexuality in America has undergone many changes. A sexual revolution has occurred.
According to the 2002 sociology textbook, Diversity in Families, the revolution can be traced back to the rising age at marriage and also:
According to Diversity in Families, “Men and women who are under the age of 20 when they first marry are two to three times more likely to divorce than their counterparts who first marry in their 20s.”
There are several reasons to explain the connection of youth with martial instability. Young couples are usually poorly prepared for marriage. “They do not understand what will be expected of them in marriage, nor do they have the maturity to handle the responsibilities,” according to the 2003 sociology textbook Marriages and Families written by Constance L. Shehan.
Secondly, those who marry at an early age may have had only limited dating experience and may not have developed a clear idea of what they value in a partner.
Finally, couples who marry young have restricted opportunities for college education and tend to have financial difficulties, especially if they have children early, according to Diversity in Families.