Lena Dunham Feels Pressure to Marry — So Do Lots of Millennials

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Photo by Autumn de Wilde

Lena Dunham is in a bind.

In March, the Girls creator boldly told Ellen DeGeneres that she and her boyfriend of three years, Jack Antonoff, would not be tying the knot until same-sex couples could, too — a noble gesture that Brad Pitt announced at one point, but then he and Angelina Jolie went ahead and married anyway. Then the SCOTUS decision was announced June 26, and the couple started getting texts “from our friends, from our mothers, from our exercise instructors being like, ‘Finally, it’s your time!’” and Dunham told Antonoff to “get on it,” and promptly regretted it (and one has to guess that Antonoff was, well, relieved).

Now, it’s months later, and there’s still no bling or wedding date set and fans and DeGeneres want to know, well?

And now it’s unhappy situation and lots of ‘splainin’ because there are expectations (although how a Dunham-Antonoff marriage impacts anyone else but Dunham and Antonoff is beyond me).

For her part, Dunham says they’d rather “wait for a moment where we feel excited about” tying the knot.

“I mean we own a dog together. We own a home together, but the marriage thing is a big deal.”

But even if you never announced that you wouldn’t get hitched until everyone else could, everyone who is either living with a partner or has been dating someone for a certain amount of time
has certainly felt pressure to wed.

Dunham does. In her July essay in the New Yorker, “The Bride in Her Head,” she acknowledges that her childhood dreams of a wedding one day were uniquely female:

“(A)s a man, his entire life has not been shaped by a desire for, or a rejection of, a fluffy white dress. … My desire for a wedding predated my ability to imagine anyone loving me for who I was and for who I might become. Now, having mostly become that kind of person, my desires were opaque even to me. I felt lonely, crazy, and guilty. I felt unsure.”

Why? No one needs to marry anymore for sex, kids, financial security — the usual suspects in our grandparents’ day.

Why don’t couples give themselves “limitless breathing space,” and tell everyone else it’s none of their business?

Marriage is still the “normal” thing to do — graduate, get a job, get married. And even if you can resist pressure from friends and family, once you get to the age when you start going to a lot of your friends’ weddings, it can feel like there’s something wrong with you if you don’t tie the knot, too.

Despite how far women have come, there remains a sort of unspoken belief that our daughters would be better off married than solo; at the recent wedding of his oldest daughter, one of three, the father of the bride repeatedly was told, “One down, two to go,” as if all his daughters will marry, all his daughters want to marry and — most important — he won’t have to “worry” about that one.

And now even same-sex couples are feeling the pressure, and because they can marry, alternatives to marriage, such as domestic partnerships, are sometimes no longer an option. Marry or else!

Even though Millennials are — wisely — delaying marriage, once they approach the “magical” age of 30, there appears to be a switch, less of an external pressure and more of an internal pressure that they better “get on it” or somehow eternal love and bliss will pass them by, and they’ll be — *sigh*still single at 30.

Dunham is 29 and Antonoff is 31.

So, we should applaud Dunham for saying, whoa, not so fast.

Now if only all Millennials of “a certain age” could say that, too.

Resisted the pressure but now are ready to marry? Have the marriage you want by ordering “The New I Do” on Amazon, and, while you’re at it, follow TNID on Twitter and Facebook.

Originally published at omgchronicles.vickilarson.com.

Written by

Award-winning journalist, coauthor of “The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels,” mom, changing the narrative about older women

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