I dedicate this post to all the single ladies.
Guess what is the most popular question among my relatives and friends? If your guess is connected to something like “How is it going?”, “How is your study?”, “When do you think the following tenge’s fall will take place?” or “Are you waiting for the next Game of Thrones season?”, I have a bad news for you. They are dying to know just one thing: whether I am going to get married.
I turned 25 this January, and it feels like every year of my life inevitably increases the frequency of asking such questions. From many of my friends, I know I am not the only person experiencing an elevated interest in my personal life. So, I became interested in the issues of education, gender expectations and personal choice for marriage. The post aims to answer these key questions: Why is marriage important? What is the role of woman in education? and What is the link between education and marriage?
Every girl has at least once in her life imagined her dream wedding. This happens for a reason. From early childhood, humans are naturally programmed to strive for a peaceful coexistence with the representatives of opposite gender (Blossfeld & Huinink, 1991). Marital union is advantageous in terms of mental and physical well-being – married people live longer and better. Also, they are less likely to experience loneliness and lack of support, especially in their old age. Two common forms of marriage are traditional and egalitarian (Blossfeld, & Huinink, 1991). As can be expected, in traditional marriages the husband takes the role of the main breadwinner and his wife is responsible for household and child rearing, whereas egalitarian unions suggest equal distribution of roles and employment opportunities between the husband and wife.
Throughout the history, gender roles in marriage have shifted dramatically due to cultural, economic, political and educational changes. With these transformations, the issues of providing equal access to education irrespective of gender emerged. Phillips & Schweisfurth (2008) in their book on Comparative and International education maintain that better-educated females increase the share of educated and healthy population, reduce infant and maternal mortality rates, minimize domestic violence and change political situation through active participation. Since education has become a sign of achievement, there appeared to be a positive association between marriage and education.
“Marriage is increasingly becoming the privilege of the better-educated and better-educated marry later”(p.1499) – here is an opening proposition of Kalmijn (2013). In a study of educational gradient in marriage, he discovers that in countries with traditional marriages, the better-educated women are less likely to get married, at least at younger age. The males there prefer to get married early to more religious females, whilst women who pursue study and careers usually have less time for relationships. In contrast, the men in gender-egalitarian countries favor better-educated, more successful women with higher expectations. What is more, the findings demonstrated the wealthiest people in Europe and North America are married to the teachers!
Of course, better-educated females did not escape skeptical attention and criticism. More intelligent women are predisposed to experience more stress because of intrapersonal family-career conflict (England & Farkas, 1986). When education is an essential part of life, later it is often replaced by career. In this sense, education and career impact emotional well-being of women who face challenges in balancing personal and professional lives. Additionally, accomplished education ensures competitive salaries thus making females the main breadwinners, especially with less-educated husbands (Phillips & Schweisfurth, 2008). This scenario of shifting gender expectations with intellectual incongruence typically ends up with divorce and separation. At last, education is argued to devaluate motherhood. Better-educated women are usually accused of having fewer children and spending less time with them (Blossfeld & Huinink, 1991). The children whose mothers are more educated might have better educational opportunities and further career perspectives, yet their mothers’ education may also negatively reflect in their affiliation and relationships. In contrast, other women, who prefer not to continue their education limiting it to school certificates and undergraduate degrees, dedicate most of their free time to upbringing of their children.
Given these points it can be noted that education and pursuit of career seriously reduce marital chances in traditional countries where gender roles are segregated, while in more egalitarian countries education definitely benefits potential brides. Do not despair, though! Of course, I am not the most reliable person to refer to, as I am neither married, nor fully educated yet. Nonetheless, I took the liberty to share my humble opinion in the form of personal recommendations. Here are my propositions:
- Study as long as you find it necessary, but do not forget to look around otherwise you risk to miss your well-educated match.
- Love when you are ready, not lonely. The same is true about marriage. Look for your other half primarily relying on yourself instead of trying to correspond to social expectations and patterns.
- Only you yourself identify your priorities. Whatever you choose to do first, do it consistent with your interests and feelings. If the study happened to come first, do not lose your hope. Perhaps, your millionaire is waiting for you around the corner.
Married and single, males and females, I hope to read you opinions as well: What is marriage for you? How does education affect your vision of relationships? What is your attitude towards hardships of cultural and social expectations?
Blossfeld, H. P., & Huinink, J. (1991). Human capital investments or norms of role transition: How women’s schooling and career affect the process of family formation. The American Journal of Sociology, 97, 143–168.
England, P., & Farkas, G. (1986). Households, employment, and gender: A social, economic, and demographic view. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.
Kalmijn, M. (2013). The Educational Gradient in Marriage: A Comparison of 25 European Countries. Demography, 50(4), 1499-1520. doi:10.1007/s13524-013-0229-x
Phillips, D., & Schweisfurth, M. (2008). Comparative and international education: An introduction to theory, method, and practice. Continuum
Sex roles/gender roles. (2002). In The new dictionary of cultural literacy, Houghton Mifflin. Retrieved from http://literati.credoreference.com/content/entry/hmndcl/sex_roles_gender_roles/0