With forecasts predicting chronic unemployment upwards of eight percent for the next decade, the nation is reconsidering its prospects for the future. For many aspiring grooms and brides, this means reassessing the idea of marriage.
According to data from the Ohio Department of Health, the national trend for marriages has been decreasing steadily over the last decade. The rate of marriages has gone down from eight per 1,000 residents in the 1990s, to around six in recent years. Experts predict that the recession could be having an impact.
This does not daunt certain Wabash men, however.
Over the past semester, the campus has seen over eight engagements, with Wabash men such as Colin Ridenour ’10, Marcus Manges ’10, and Anthony Morton ’10 eagerly waiting to tie the knot. For these select individuals, marriage appears to be the ideal strategy to combat the growing uncertainties of America’s recession.
“Despite the unknowns, it’s good to have a sidekick,” Ridenour explained. “To have that support system is very important, and it’s granted by a strong person standing beside you.”
The next year marks a transition time for both he and his fiancé. While Colin plans to attend IU Medical School, his fiancée Brooke is entertaining the idea of attending law school also at IU. Because of the crisis, however, the two are unsure exactly when that will happen.
“I am worried about getting into [medical] school; the recession means more people are applying into graduate programs,” Ridenour said. “There is doubt there, but I am able to find support in our relationship.”
Ridenour is correct in his statement, however, with the last few years bringing a surge of interest in graduate study across America. Test preparation company Kaplan was quoted to have seen a 45 percent increase of interest in their business, law and graduate school preparation programs since September of 2008. As such, graduate programs themselves feel a likewise surge in applications, flooding the market with competition.
For now, the couple has decided to place the marriage date sometime after his graduation in the spring.
“I wanted to graduate before taking that next step,” he explained. “It is sort of the equivalent of putting too much on your plate at once. I just wanted to be fully committed to my academics at Wabash.”
Several couples have chosen to likewise postpone their marriages until after graduation. Wallies offer varied reasoning, with some quoting the high price of weddings.
“We are paying for the wedding ourselves, but we don’t have a real source of income,” said Anthony Smith. “I want to give her a wedding she’s always wanted, but the more I try and obtain it, the more we’ll have to wait.” Smith and his fiancé, Charity, have a tentative date set in the spring of ’11.
Other Wabash men, such as William Beard ’10 and James-Michael Brazill ’11, decided to go ahead when it came to the actual ceremony. Despite a limited budget, the Brazills’ wedding coincided with Halloween this past semester, and was enjoyed by its many attendees, including both faculty and students.
“Stephanie planned our wedding for much cheaper than we had imagined,” James described. “As a result, we got to invite a lot of friends and family, and had a great time.”
Likewise, Chris and his fiancé, Miri, ushered in the New Year with the first of their two weddings. With the service held in Chris’ home church in Danville, the couple kept it small, in hopes of having a second wedding in the summer.
“We plan to return to Miri’s home in] Korea to have another wedding for her parents,” Beard explained.
Both couples, which currently reside together, do not find many differences between their pre- and post-marriage lifestyles. Nevertheless, living together has affected levels of flexibility.
“Take for example when it comes to studying,” said Brazill. “When I had an assignment due before I got married, I could pick up and go to the library whenever. Now I am conscious of Stephanie’s schedule also, which I try and coincide with as much as possible.”
Anthony Morton and his fiancée, Sarah, who have spent considerable amounts of time together over the last few months, also agree.
“Getting engaged does a lot; you become more mindful of your partner’s feelings,” said Morton. “By the time I get out of school, I will have made a lot of progress in the engagement and in the relationship.”
No matter what stage the relationship is in, however, other students at Wabash choose not to pursue marriage at the present time; the recession still speaks volumes to those with undecided future plans.
“Though I’m certain she would say yes tomorrow, with the whole uncertain money thing, I’ve chosen not to get engaged,” said junior Seth Young ’11.
It is for these people that Beard shared his personal philosophy during the interview.
“You learn [as you go along in life] that you don’t really know anything, so it is kind of pointless to plan ahead; too many variables. You could be prepared for bad things, but there is no way to micromanage your future.”
In photo: James-Michael Brazill and wife Stephanie.