The most important recent influence on gender dynamics has nothing to do with rules, regulations or legislation.
It has to do with something that has become customary: deferred marriage… not to be confused with deferred gratification.
Give the credit to second wave feminism. Women are marrying later and so, of course, are men.
Since a young woman who wants to get married soon will see men differently than a woman who wants to postpone marriage, the change in custom has had a marked effect on behavior.
Since most people do marry eventually, the delay has changed the way people relate to each other within their marriages. It has also, one assumes, contributed to the number of divorces.
In a recent article on Yahoo News, Janet Ong Zimmerman explains how wonderful it is that she had her first marriage when she was 46.
Since it becomes more difficult to find a suitable spouse as one ages, we will celebrate her marriage with her.
And yet, how many young women, upon being told to defer marriage will be happy to hear that the later you wait the less likely it is that you will have children?
Young women have read many articles warning them not to defer childbearing too long. Somehow or other, studies show, they have come away thinking that fertility is nearly forever.
Trying to rationalize her decision Zimmerman declares that she had to wait so long to get married because she needed to find herself before she could find a suitable husband.
She had to learn to love herself and to know her self-worth.
Regrettably, these are empty clichés, but they count as legal tender in the therapy world. When Zimmerman trots them out as though they showed her enlightenment, she is showing us that she has suffered much too much therapy.
Paula Bolyard explains that someone who has spent so much time learning to live herself will probably not know how to love someone else. Appearances to the contrary, marriage is not about loving yourself or even finding yourself.
Being an independent, free spirit is not the same thing as knowing how to cooperate and coordinate two lives.
Having reached a level of therapeutically-induced emotional serenity does not give you the social skills needed to conduct a happy marriage.
Bolyard offers a number of good reasons for marrying young, but the one that stands out is so simple that I have often mentioned it myself: it is easier to build a life together than it is to merge two fully constituted lives.