Just in time for Valentine’s Day comes this romantic news: “Record number of educated women are ‘marrying down.’ ”
That’s right: Blame women’s lib. Blame evolution. Blame contact sports. Heck, blame President Obama. But apparently we’re seeing an end to the war of the sexes — because women have won. Sort of.
As my colleague Walter Hamilton reported: “Nearly 21% of married women in 2012 were better educated than their spouses, a threefold jump from 1960, according to the Pew Research Center. By contrast, a bit less than 20% of men had more formal education than their wives.
“In the more than half-century that Pew has tracked the issue, this is the first time that a higher percentage of women than men have married down.”
Now, to be honest — and not to be all PC about it — but I think this story could just as easily have been headlined “More men are ‘marrying up.’ ” Then again, even though my better half happens to be, ahem, better educated than myself (ditto my ex-wife; but hey, as a former colleague once told me, somewhat incredulously: “Gee, Paul, you sure like women who are smarter than you”), I’ve always been a glass half-full kinda guy.
It’s just that — well, OK, I just don’t much like the tone of “marrying down.” It sounds too much like “settling.” It sounds like: “Oh well, Mom and Dad, I admit, he’s not the pick of the litter, but he’ll have to do. It’s slim pickings out there!”
No! On Valentine’s Day, when love is in the air (though in sunny Southern California, it could just be pollen from all the flowers that are blooming that’s causing me to feel a bit lightheaded), why not be an optimist?
After all, my colleague Alexandra Le Tellier wrote this week that Beyonce and her husband, Jay Z, seem to be keeping the romantic spark alive in their marriage, opining that “they have a marital bond we can all aspire to.” (Though personally, I think it has more to do with the two of them having such cool, unusual names. Would they be as lustful if she was named Betty and he Bill?)
But on this day of all days, I want to believe that love conquers all, even in a battle of diplomas, or wits. So what that she went to Stanford and you to the University of Nebraska. It doesn’t mean you don’t get almost as many answers right on “Jeopardy!” as she does. Plus, you can explain ad nauseum the finer details of detasseling, not to mention the Tampa 2 defense; also, you are something of a wizard with a Weed Whacker.
It shouldn’t be important that her diploma says “cum laude” and yours says “thanks, and come again.”
Still, I concede that not all men are as forward-thinking as myself. For example, my Times colleague Chris Erskine. A recent column of his was headlined, “Look around and ask: Where has all the romance gone?” (Clearly he’s not friends with Beyonce or Jay Z.)
He wrote: “Suddenly, if you’re not careful, nothing seems as good as it once was. Maybe that has shaded my thoughts on romance. But after a million movies and a thousand love songs, the romance once abundant in pop culture seems to have just stopped.”
Now, perhaps this office Eeyore just needs to get out more. The pop culture I partake in has plenty of romance. Who didn’t mist up a bit at the end of “Silver Linings Playbook,” when the nutjob Bradley Cooper character was cured by the nutjob Jennifer Lawrence character, and vice versa, and they won the bet and Robert De Niro got to keep up his gambling addiction and the nutjob Chris Tucker character was cooking with the mom, and everyone lived happily ever after?
You telling me that wasn’t romantic, Mr. Erskine? Please.
Anyway, it’s Valentine’s Day. More women are marrying “down.” Or more men are marrying “up.”
All I want to say is this: They’re all in love.
And in the end, isn’t that what really matters?