From an Intern: 'Marriage Can Wait'

Tell Me More former intern and recent college graduate Addie Whisenant shares her views on why she is not in a rush to get married. Hear what drives her modern-day thinking.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

MICHEL MARTIN, host:

Love and marriage, as we've been talking about, those are popular topics for magazines that target women. You can usually find many pages offering advice -how to get a man, how to keep a man, how to marry that man, you know. Now, if you can imagine adding family pressure to the mix, our former intern Addie Whisenant knows all about this. She recently graduated from college after years of hard work, and she's got something to say.

ADDIE WHISENANT: This past weekend, I attended a family reunion in Pittsburgh. A few months before, I couldn't wait to be there. I was anxious because I wanted to see my family, but I was equally anxious because I was going to see my family. I knew I'd once again be overwhelmed by the interrogation. And the number one question flying my way would be, when are you getting married? I remember laughing at my great Aunt Martha when she asked my older cousins about this same question. This was usually followed by the speech - marriages make the world go round, you aren't complete without a mate, being in love makes your whole life simpler. But right now, I'm not laughing.

It's not that I don't believe what she says, it's just that right now, I don't think it's the right time. This is hard for her to grasp. When she was my age, she already had a husband, kids and a full-time job. So how do I get it across to her and the others that times have changed, and I just can't marry the first man that comes along? I'm not sure I'll ever be able to convince them. I think society reminds my generation every day that marriage equals happiness. I know you're probably thinking, why does this bother her so much? But the answer is simple because, one, I am super single. Two, I am sure as heck not ready to be some man's wife, and quite honestly, I don't know if there is a man out there who is quite ready to be my husband.

And three, I'm too young. My life is just starting. Now, these are honest answers for why I'm not married yet and why I won't be anytime soon. But I'm super thankful that I can make that decision these days. I always see that MTV reality show, "Engaged and Underaged," and I always wonder why these people are getting married so young. Now, let me just set the record straight. One day, I do want to get married, but I understand that I still have a whole lot of growing to do before that happens. It was much different back when my older relatives married. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 1957, the average age to marry for women was 20. For me, that was just two and a half years ago. Today, the average age of women marrying for the first time is 25.

Twenty-five - not a bad age to marry. But then again, let's look at the divorce rate in America: 50 percent. That number says a lot. Like, slow down, you don't even know the man or woman you're marrying. I would rather take a little more time getting to the altar than have to rush to divorce court a few years later. When I settle down, I want to be able to carry my end of the bargain. I don't want my guy to take care of everything and vice versa - especially vice versa. In a recent conversation, one of my friends told me not to worry about whether me and the man I want to marry are independently stable. She told me I just need to let love run its course. Now I understand where she's coming from, but more people should understand where I'm coming from.

They are some people who do. Women I admire who decided to focus more on themselves, to discover who they are and achieve their goals before they marry and have kids. And their lives are just as fulfilled as those women who married young. Being married shouldn't define my worth. My life and how I live it is what really counts.

MARTIN: Addie Whisenant is a recent college graduate, most recently, our TELL ME MORE intern, and she is happily single.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.