By Devon Delfino, Staff Writer
In a letter to the editor, which appeared in the Daily Princetonian last week, Susan Patton, a Princeton alum and mother of a current student, told the women of Princeton to find a husband while they were still in college.
Patton explained her ideas further in an address in the Huffington Post.
She explains, “I understand that this can be seen as retrogressive, but for those women who aspire to what used to be thought of as a traditional life with home and family, there is almost no ink addressing personal fulfillment outside of the workplace.”
Yes, I do find it retrogressive. And limiting such a statement to women who do want this a “normal” life does not excuse the fact that Patton is selling the idea of early marriage to late teens and very early adults who, in my opinion, won’t know what they might want in the next year, let alone for the rest of their lives.
(There are, of course, exceptions to this rule, and some women do end up with someone they met in college; but the simple truth is that these are exceptions.)
I have found that college is a time for self exploration; but how can we allow self exploration to occur when we push these ideas onto people who are still in the process of becoming who they want to be. People change, especially from the time that they are just learning to take care of themselves till their mid to late twenties, so I can’t help but think following Patton’s advice would not result in successful partnerships. Intellectual equality is only part of the equation.
But we must consider the opposition: delaying romance in favor of a career.
In an editorial in the New York Times two weeks ago, Laurie Sandell described her experience, in her early forties, of becoming more emotionally attached to her boyfriend’s child than him.
She states, “… I couldn’t imagine meeting someone new, dating, getting engaged, marrying and then trying to have a baby. At a deeper level, I felt as if I already had a child I loved. It was torture to take her through her routines knowing I might have to leave. So I put it off, assuaging my guilt by buying her bath toys and clothes.”
Her heart-wrenching experience serves as a cautionary tale against the lengthy delay of motherhood and family. Any woman who desires a marriage and family is well aware of that infamous ticking biological clock that limits her time line of opportunity. And Sandell had to deal with the repercussions of delaying motherhood.
When considering both sides, one thing is clear: priorities are key. Women should not be bullied into marriage before they are ready for the simple sake of convenience, but they shouldn’t ignore it if it is something that they want, either. There is a difference between telling women to have a healthy, balanced life and telling them that this is their only chance to find someone as intelligent as they are. Perhaps I am too cynical in believing that most relationships in college are bound to fail, but I cannot imagine myself or any of my peers looking to be married in the near future.