Ring by spring may be dying, new report says

Nicholas Wolfinger, professor of family and consumer studies and adjunct professor of sociology at University of Utah, conducted a survey in response to an online movement saying that marriage is bad for men. The report shows that marriage does indeed make men happier, and that these marriages are occurring later rather than right after college. Photo credit: Liesje Powers

By Megan Rule | Staff Writer

A recent report from professors at the University of Utah and University of Virginia debunks the idea of ring by spring, a popular phrase used around campus.

“The majority of Americans will get married,” said Nicholas Wolfinger, professor of family and consumer studies and adjunct professor of sociology at the University of Utah. “Fifty years ago, the expectation was 95 percent of people would get married. Now it’s down to 85 percent which means more people still get married, they’re just marrying way later than they used to.”

Wolfinger, collaborator and conductor of the study, said the report was done as a response to the online movement Men Going Their Own Way that says marriage is bad for men. This movement has an online presence that supports the idea of men rejecting marriage and rejecting women altogether, claiming that marriage is too expensive and women will take away time and energy from men.

“This report was done in response to the people that say marriage is bad for men, and we wanted to show that married men are happier than single men,” Wolfinger said. “It shows repeatedly that these myths are not true.”

Even though Wolfinger believes marriage is actually beneficial, this study shows that ring by spring is de-bunked. People are marrying way later than they used to, Wolfinger said. The divorce rate is lower now than it was in 1981 at its peak, but it is still high by historical standards, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Wolfinger said that by combining divorce and the later ages in which people get married, people are now spending less of their lives married.

“I think now a lot of kids are growing up in broken homes and know the struggles that come with that, and they don’t want their kids to go through it,” League City sophomore Alex Lord said. “They want to wait to better the chances of the marriage lasting.”

Wolfinger identified a few reasons for why marriage isn’t as common right out of college, in addition to Men Going Their Own Way’s reasons. He said the social landscape has changed the world of marriage in that male wages have declined, it is now normal to live with someone before marriage and women, in particular, want to focus on careers.

“I think that the ring by spring trend is dying because our generation is more selfish than previous generations, and I don’t mean selfish in a bad way at all,” Fort Collins, Colo., sophomore Cacey Vigil said. “What I mean by selfish is that we are more concerned about following our dreams and our future careers. Yes, we still worry about relationships, but it’s not as big of a deal as it was with previous generations.”

Wolfinger said that where the norm used to be a case of finishing school and getting married, it is now finishing school and going into a career, then considering marriage once the career is going well.

“As young adults in this day in age, we all want to be successful at a young age, and most of our time is put into creating our own brand and working our way up in a company or even starting out own,” Vigil said. “We don’t have time to think about getting married or having kids and starting a family. We are more concerned about ourselves.”

Wolfinger conducted the report with W. Bradford Wilcox, professor of sociology and director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia. Wolfinger’s other studies include the topics of the age of marriage and divorce and the link in premarital sex and marital stability.

“I’ve been doing work on marriage and divorce for years,” Wolfinger said. “This [marriage is bad for men research] is not original research; this is all just propaganda. It’s us trying to argue a point.”