“Married” to Adulthood: Straying from Life-Course Patterns

Before classes broke out for summer the Adulthood Project whisked me in the direction of finance. Many have identified financial independence and financial responsibilities as a marker of adulthood. Yet there is a concern for Gen X and Millenials and their ability to be self sustaining adults in today’s economy. They do not seem to fit any particular pattern seen before. If the title of adult demands that one be financially independent and completely self sustaining would those two populations who seemingly take a longer time to achieve either status be denied the title of adult? With this in mind I attempted to look at what defines financial independence. After some research I found that many variables hindered me from quantifying an acceptable criterium that could be applied universally. Pay, cost of living, and taxes (in addition to personal assertion of worth) all vary from region to region (and person to person) making it difficult to establish a strong bench mark. I quickly realized that I bit off more than I could possibly chew.

From this research I developed a new topic. Each of my readings mentioned marriage and the combining of assets. During this extended period of youthful tendencies it would make sense that the marriage age increases to make room for a time of exploration. Within this period we find, among many other forms, sexual, love, and compatibility exploration. The period of exploration is what redefines what people look for in a ‘good marriage’. The marriage topic sometimes seems like a chicken and egg scenario and can be frustrating.  Currently I am reading Marriage, A History: How Love Conquered Marriage by Stephanie Coontz. I have found this book to be seriously helpful! Not only am I learning an extraordinary amount about the the different meanings and purposed behind marriage historically, but I also picking up momentum in the amount of resource that are available to me.

This past Friday (June 6th), the team visited the library at Northwestern University to pull more resources. There I found several books that I look forward to reading in the months to come. I can hardly wait for out visit to the Chicago History Museum on Wednesday (June 11th) where I will have access to over 60 years of Ask Ann Landers entries. My hope is that these clippings will provide a strong social context regarding changing attitudes towards marriage and how marital dilemmas have been handled over time. Fingers crossed!