Despite the University of Georgia ranking as a top university to find a wife — according to a Collegemagazine.com article — the sought-after MRS degree has an unpredictable future.

With people focusing more on careers than marriage out of college, the average age of marriage has increased from what it was 30 years ago.

According to a Demos study, the average age for a man’s first marriage in 1980 differs from the 2010 average by three years — with an increase from 25 to 28 years of age. This jump can also be seen in women with the 1980 average of 22 years of age moving up to 26 years in 2010.

Some UGA students are following this trend by taking time to find a job and earn money to help support themselves and their potential spouse.

“Upon graduation, we plan on hopefully both getting teaching jobs in either the Atlanta or Athens area,” said Kyle Bickwit, a senior music education major from Johns Creek. “We plan on living together and likely getting married soon after graduation. There has been talk of marriage. We would like to have a year or so of earning money before having a wedding.”

Bickwit, with his girlfriend of two years Emilee Springer, a senior middle grades education major from Marietta, has followed what many consider the typical path — graduation, career, marriage, family.

But some couples chose to go against the general consensus.

Asia Klassen, a May 2012 UGA graduate with a degree in special education, said she had no intention to find a husband after moving from Columbia, Missouri, to Athens.

“I wasn’t thinking about getting married,” Klassen said. “People were talking about an MRS degree, and I didn’t know anything about that.”

While many view the standard of living as finding a job then getting married, Klassen said, ultimately, the decision comes from each person’s feelings on the matter.

“It’s kind of backwards to get married then get a job,” Klassen said. “People usually graduate, get a job, get married and have kids. We kind of did it in a mixed up order, but it just felt right [and] it made sense to us.”

For the couples too anxious to wait for graduation — and for spouses and children of faculty, staff and graduate students — graduate housing helps to house married couples and families on campus. But the number of married couples in graduate housing is unknown because obtaining this knowledge is a federal offense.

“We really can’t ask questions about whether or not people are married. That’s a federal law,” said Gerry Kowalski, executive director of University Housing. “We do know that we have families and married couples together, but we really don’t keep track of that.”

UGA assists students with a focus on marriage rather than careers by hosting the Healthy Relationship & Marriage Education Training course offered by the College of Family and Consumer Sciences.

Including faculty from Auburn University, the University of Missouri, UGA and five other schools, this five-year $1.2 million federally funded program is in agreement with the Administration on Children, Youth and Families Children’s Bureau.  

The program aims to “improve the stability and well-being of children by helping their parents/caregivers develop the knowledge and skills needed to form and maintain healthy couple and marital relationships,” according to the program’s brochure.

From the course, couples — according to the brochure — will be able to “better understand the numerous benefits of healthy couple...relationships, become aware of the...principles that foster healthy couple relationships” and “gain knowledge...that will increase [their] ability to help individuals and couples.”

There will be a session welcoming couples in “any stage of their relationship” held in Athens on April 25.

For more information on the Athens session, contact Ted Futris, state extension specialist in family life and assistant professor in the department of child and family development at UGA, at tfutris@uga.edu.

Futris could not be contacted for a statement.

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