My husband and I just celebrated our 36th wedding anniversary, and since summer is also wedding season, it got me wondering how today’s couples are faring.
To me, it seems that people are willing to spend a heck of a lot more money on the big day than what we were willing to spend and that marriages are not lasting.
But as it turns out, going back eight decades, the big day has always been a big day and people have always been willing to spend big bucks, and today’s couples are not spiking the divorce rates.
Wedding Bells is a Canadian wedding magazine and it carries out an annual reader’s survey that draws responses from close to 2,000 Canadian brides-to-be.
It was interesting to me that, after 36 years, this arena has remained as sexist as ever, whereby men’s opinions are irrelevant.
Don’t get me wrong, I imagine most couples start out discussing what they both envision for their day, as my husband and I did, which allows for his input on the bare bones of the day.
However, once ‘Team Estrogen’ is called into action – well, any man with even basic survival skills knows not to tread into any serious conversations about what the day should be like.
Yes, she and her female entourage will humour him with allowing him to pick his suit style – as long as it is something she is willing to be seen standing next to – and he can consult on the bar, maybe the music. But much more is just not wise, nor worth it.
Remember, gentlemen, the idea is to win the war, which means being able to accept that you have to lose a couple of battles.
And the wedding day is one battle you need to sacrifice.
Besides, you want to save your energy for the one about the boat.
The survey found that most brides are hoping to spend around $20,000, but end up spending around $31,000, which is the average cost of a wedding today.
It also showed that couples are willing to spend half of one annual salary on their wedding.
Census Canada shows, going back to the early 1920s, couples were willing to spend a third of an annual income.
Breaking down the costs of the wedding components shows that they have remained relative to that of living. However, men come through big time, as his suit is the only item that has dropped significantly in price, due to mass manufacturing having eliminated the tailor made suit that was the norm in early 20th Century menswear.
Way to go, gentlemen.
Suffice to say, with all of the hype that television shows like Say Yes to the Dress generate, wedding dresses are still up there, with the average cost being around $1,300. Which could be why most men are crying when she walks down the aisle.
So, after all the money is spent and the honeymoon is over, how are we faring in the staying-together category?
Census Canada shows the divorce rate from the mid-1920s ran at below 50 per 100,000 population, going up slightly with each census until mid-1960s, when it rose dramatically and steadily to just under 300 per hundred thousand population, where it has held for the past 20 years.
The mid-60s were significant, because the birth control pill was introduced, allowing women to control their own bodies, which was spurred on by the second wave feminist movement of the same decade.
Layer this with “no fault” changes to the Divorce Act, which came into effect at the same time and divorce was made easier.
However, I would have to say divorce itself is never easy, nor is marriage.
After 36 years, I can attest to the marriage part. Committing to one person “’til death do us part” is not for the faint of heart, especially when there are days when you want to throttle … I mean throw in the towel.
No one should stay in a marriage if it is harmful to them, or their children, but when it is a healthy union, nothing comes close to the satisfaction derived from building a life with someone you love.
To me, marriage is not measured by the material items that are collected along the way, but instead by the intimate bond that it builds. A bond that carries each through financial challenges, illness, death of loved ones, and the biggest challenge of all: raising children.
It also enhances all of the wonderful experiences that life affords. It takes strong people to commit to the long haul, but it also takes strong people to say we need to call it quits.
Thankfully, we live in a country that affords us either choice and has expanded such to all citizens in Canada.
After looking into this subject matter, I was pleased to see that this generation takes marriage as seriously as my generation and they are not using it as an excuse to have a party, knowing divorce is a backup plan.
So, get out there and enjoy any wedding invitations you receive, since, statistically, your wedding present is likely to be used happily ever after by the loving couple.
Cheryl Ashlie is a former Maple Ridge school trustee, city councillour,
constituency assistant and current
citizen of the year.