Have you ever wondered why women want to get married more than men? The reasons span from intertwining biological factors, societal expectations, and emotional security, to personal fulfillment.
But let’s move away from the vague psychology labels and understand why this is.
The Biological Clock and Societal Expectations
A lot of women are prompted to start thinking seriously about marriage – and then wanting to get married – because of their ticking biological clock and because of societal expectations.
As their reproductive years start to dwindle and their friends start pairing off, women have an intensifying desire to settle down and start a family. Depending on how many of their friends are already married and how old the woman is, this urgency can become a bit of a panic.
Often, societal norms reinforce the idea that women should get married by having an unspoken “appropriate” age for women to marry.
The Ticking Biological Clock
The concept of a biological clock, which refers to a woman’s fertility lifespan, greatly influences a woman’s desire to get married. As a woman ages, her fertility naturally begins to decline.
If a woman is pregnant and 35 or older, there are additional tests and precautions that doctors take because there is a higher risk of a whole host of undesirable outcomes, such as getting gestational diabetes, developing high blood pressure, of premature birth, of having a low birth-weight baby, of having a C-section, of having a baby with Down syndrome of other chromosomal conditions, and of losing your baby.
By the age of 37, a woman’s fertility starts to freefall.
If a woman didn’t already feel like she had a time bomb in her womb, her gynecologist suggesting during her well-woman checkup that she might want to “freeze her eggs” before her eggs get “old” sure creates the sense that her uterus has an expiration date.
What was a general awareness of a timeline becomes a looming cliff in the near future from which she cannot return. If she doesn’t freeze her eggs or have babies soon, she will never be able to have children.
Societal Pressure and Gender Roles
In the U.S., it is normal for women in their late 20s and early 30s to get married for the first time.
The desire for marriage in women is heightened by societal expectations and conventional gender roles. Women are often raised with the belief that marriage is a fundamental aspect of life, leading them to prioritize seeking a spouse. Mothers buy their daughters subscriptions to “Brides” magazine so the daughters can longingly flip through the pages filled with happy women wearing princess-like dresses.
Societal norms often portray marriage as a form of social security and a measure of a woman’s value, creating an added layer of pressure. It is assumed that a woman wants to get married and wants to have children.
Older women will ask, “So when are you going to get married?” or “How many children do you want?” If a woman responds that she is not interested, the older woman will routinely say, “Oh, you will change your mind.”
In other words, choosing to stay single and choosing to forgo motherhood just isn’t something that “normal” women do.
Emotional Security and Stability
Emotional security and stability are pillars that underpin the institution of marriage. Women often see marriage as something that will give them a supportive framework for their lives, companionship, and a partnership for building a life together.
This emotional anchor significantly shapes their desire for a wedding day and for wedlock itself.
Emotional Support and Companionship
Ideally, marriage provides more than just a legal or religious bond – it grants emotional support and someone to share your life with. It should be a deep friendship and solid partnership where two people face the challenges of the world together.
The emotional steadiness and fulfilling companionship gained from a healthy, loving marriage tend to greatly enhance a woman’s overall mental well-being, helping her feel confident and satisfied in life.
The prospect of becoming financially stable is often a strong motivator driving women to tie the knot. The gender wage gap persists and men continue to outearn women.
Men are still the main breadwinners in the majority of heterosexual marriages. So, even young men who may not yet have achieved financial stability are typically decent candidates for increasing a woman’s financial security.
Having financial security then can influence her decision to stay in the relationship, even if it is somewhat unfulfilling or less satisfying than anticipated.
Personal Fulfillment and Life Goals
The pursuit of personal fulfillment and accomplishment of life goals are compelling factors guiding women towards matrimony. Marriage is often seen as a cherished milestone and a significant life event, providing a sense of personal success and achievement.
Marriage as a Milestone
For many women, saying “I do” signifies a sense of achievement and success, regardless of their accomplishments in other aspects of life. It is a public symbol that they are of enough value that a man has willingly committed his life to them. It shows the world that they are an insider in the womanhood club.
Family Planning and Motherhood
Marriage is traditionally the first step towards family planning and motherhood. While life doesn’t always go planned and unintended pregnancies do happen, stabilizing your family unit first and then bringing a child into the world is generally a safer route.
In fact, studies show that married parents are more likely to stay together for longer than cohabitating parents in every country in the world. In the U.S., two-thirds of unmarried parents break up before their child is 12 years old, versus just one-quarter of married parents.
There are various reasons for the increased stability of the family unit in married couples, such as the fact that there is more planning involved in getting married and having children, married couples are more likely to have a higher level of education, and they are more likely to earn more.
Then there’s the stigma. Being married before having children is also societally more acceptable because it is more traditional, and because people correctly perceive marriage to be a more stable environment for children.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health wrote that children living with unmarried parents are associated with decreased well-being in children, and the Washington Post even quoted a report stating that “cohabitation has replaced divorce as the biggest source of instability for American families.”
It’s logical, then, that a desire for motherhood is a strong motivator driving women towards marriage.
The Influence of Married Friends and Family
Observing successful marriages and experiencing familial pressure can inspire women to seek to replicate what they see around them.
Observing Successful Marriages
Witnessing successful marriages within their social and family circles provides women with a roadmap for their own relationships. Seeing the dynamics of a successful marriage – the mutual respect, the good communication, the shared responsibilities – can inspire women to seek similar partnerships.
Pressure from Parents and Relatives
The influence of friends and family significantly shapes a woman’s desire to tie the knot. Parents and relatives frequently ask if a woman is dating, how serious it is, and if she has “a date” (for a wedding). Cultural and societal norms can exert expectations and pressures, particularly if younger siblings marry first.
This family pressure often leads women to conform to the models they see around them, increasing their inclination to get married.
Challenges in the Dating Scene
The contemporary dating landscape, fraught with its unique challenges, can frequently heighten a woman’s eagerness to find a spouse. The fear of a limited pool of eligible partners and the dread of remaining single can fuel the desire to settle down and get married.
Limited Pool of Eligible Partners
The dating scene can be exhausting. There are the traditional ways of finding a partner, such as bars, your church, running and hiking clubs, the grocery store, dog parks, the gym, and getting matched up by friends. But if you are looking for a specific type of guy, what are the odds you will find him that way, and how long will you have to look?
Then, there is the more efficient way: dating apps and matchmaking services. Is it a bit intimidating? Is there a lot to learn about how to do it right? Are there scammers and liars and cheaters? Yes, yes, and yes.
I recently was sent a profile by a friend of mine who is a widow. The man had already lied in his profile about his age, signing up with a fake birthday so he would appear in the age filters of younger women. Eliminate!!
My friend, a newbie to the online dating world, didn’t even see his lie until I pointed it out. (And she did have a phone chat with him later, and yes, he was horrible, so we can infer that it wasn’t just an honest mistake.)
The older a woman gets, and the more she finds seemingly good men married off, the more suitable partners appear scarce. This perceived scarcity can make settling down and getting married more and more appealing.
Fear of Remaining Single
The fear of remaining single can also contribute to women’s desire to get married. This fear can lead women to compromise on their standards, rush into less-than-ideal relationships, and stay in unfulfilling partnerships.
The longer a woman stays single, and the more of her friends have gotten married, the more she feels out of place with her old friend groups. She feels isolated. She has less and less in common with her friends, as they move on to advanced chapters of their lives, especially having children.
At some point, it’s just not interesting for single women to get together with old friends who now just seem to talk about their kids.
The Role of Media and Popular Culture
Both media and popular culture significantly mold women’s views on matrimony. The romanticized portrayals of marriage and the influence of celebrity relationships can create unattainable expectations, contributing to women’s desire to get married.
Romanticized Portrayal of Marriage
Mainstream media, social media, TV and movies show women the fairytale side of marriage, fostering an image of a desirable utopia with a handsome, emotionally available, and sensitive lover (who is also a great cook and gives unbeatable foot massages).
Okay, maybe that’s a bit overboard, but you get the point. Media fosters unrealistic expectations. These fantasy scenarios can fuel women’s desire for marriage as they try to emulate the perfect relationships they see buzzing around them.
Celebrity Marriages and Trends
The glamorization and sensationalization of celebrity marriages and trends can also influence women’s perception of matrimony. The lavish weddings, the fairytale love stories, and the glitz and glamour can create a culture of luxury surrounding marriages, increasing women’s desire to emulate their favorite stars.
Just Google Prince William and Kate Middleton’s iconic royal wedding, or look at the studly Travis Kelce, always holding the hand of a demure Taylor Swift, being led by this alpha male to luxurious places with a beautiful and fulfilled smile on her red lips. Who doesn’t want that?
Navigating the Modern Relationship Landscape
The modern relationship landscape presents a unique set of challenges that women must navigate. With changing gender roles and expectations and the rise of cohabitation and alternative relationship models, women are often left navigating a complex maze of options and expectations.
Changing Gender Roles and Expectations
The past few decades have witnessed significant transformations in gender roles and expectations. Women are marrying later, having children later, and seeking more egalitarian relationships. These changes have influenced how women view marriage and partnership, often leaving them confused and uncertain.
The Rise of Cohabitation and Alternative Relationship Models
The increasing trend of cohabitation and alternative relationship models also sway women’s perspectives on marriage. While these options offer flexibility and freedom, they also bring with them a sense of confusion and uncertainty.
The lack of legal protection for unmarried couples and the absence of societal norms can often make marriage seem like a more stable and secure option, leading some to avoid marriage.
From the ticking of the biological clock to societal expectations, from emotional security and personal fulfillment to the influence of married friends and family, from challenges in the dating scene to the role of media and popular culture, and finally, to the complexities of navigating the modern relationship landscape – the journey of a woman towards marriage and motherhood is not a nicely laid yellow brick road to the Emerald City.
Sorry, Dorothy, you are just not in Kansas anymore. So, proceed with your eyes wide open. Read more about relationships, marriage, and motherhood. Lean on those of us who have traveled many miles and care enough to tell you the cold, hard truth so you can make the best decisions available.