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Columns

R.I.P. to the Mrs.

If you’re looking for a future spouse, look beyond the college campus

By Jenna M. Gray, Contributing Opinion Writer
Jenna M. Gray ’19 is a Sociology concentrator in Leverett House. Her column appears on alternate Mondays.

I’m a graduate of an all-girls’ prep school. Our rigorous academic high school curriculum intended to prepare us, women, to lead the future of society. Among coursework that included calculus and principles of physics, I remember life advice most — those heart-to-heart moments when teachers shared what we really needed to know.

As in any good Catholic institution, instructors prepped for us for the heterosexual (and, in our case, upper-middle-class) life cycle. Accordingly, a statistics teacher informed us that numerically, STEM fields offered the best prospects for finding a husband. A drama teacher warned us that a woman should never marry a man prettier than her. Our school’s strict principal allowed us to write in our yearbooks that our dream futures involved marrying a lacrosse playing all boys’ prep school graduate and raising two children in the suburbs.

You see, our high school preparation was not just for a bachelor’s degree, but for the “Mrs.” For the uninitiated, attending college in pursuit of the “Mrs.” means the real purpose of four years of academic coursework is to find a mate — particularly one with a high earning potential. The “Mrs.” doesn’t require you tie the knot during undergrad (a time for sociality that marriage may impede); you just have to lock down a future spouse before anyone else in the post-grad “real world” gets a chance.

How lovely that proposition once sounded. Trust me, in spite of all the feminist principles and gender constructivism I claim to support, I’ve never been opposed to entertaining talk of marrying rich. In fact, some might say securing the bag through matrimony is the most feminist thing you can do. (Don’t bother searching the Internet for support of that claim. “Some” is just me half-joking about my gender politics.)

After spending time on the spousal hunting ground that is the college campus, I wager that seeking the “Mrs.” as an undergrad is a terrible idea, particularly on Harvard’s campus, but not because it’s a sexist idea that flies in the face of feminist efforts. The reality is that most college campuses lack eligible bachelors. Even beyond a heterosexual, woman-seeks-man context. Nobody should be seeking to find a future spouse in a fellow undergrad.

Science backs me up on this. As college students, we are burdened by personality traits and developmental circumstances that hamper our spousal potential. College brings a host of unique stressors and emotional challenges we’ve got to work through. If we can barely commit ourselves to eight hours of sleep, how can we commit ourselves to an impending lifelong partnership?

The blogosphere contends we’ve got a lot to learn in our 20s. We’ll probably be very different people by the time we finally tie the knot, so attaining the “Mrs.” may not appreciate in value. Our brains aren’t event done developing yet! We’re prone to succumbing to peer pressure, failure to seeing tasks through, and control by our impulses. Our brains still have a lot of developing to do. Between the tender ages of 18 and 22, we’re still emotionally immature. We’re rather selfish, hyper-competitive, and unempathetic — none of which bode particularly well for your sexual or marital satisfaction.

Harvard’s campus in particular fosters some potentially undesirable spousal traits. We intellectualize everything, using unnecessarily big words to analyze things that would be more enjoyable left alone. If you’re not convinced, reading The Crimson editorial section should be a strong enough deterrent. Try earning your “Mrs.” the Ivy Route and you might end up with a Ted Cruz or Donald Trump.

This is not all to say college folks are bad people for struggling, that the undergraduate population is entirely undateable, or that personal development and being in a relationship are mutually exclusive. Nor is it a call to close your legs. This is a warning — one I wish my high school teachers had given me — not to get your hopes up and not to spend your undergraduate years in nuptial planning.

Rarely is any issue black and white. There are a few decent people on this campus. But they’re probably either boo’d up or not looking to date you. If you’re in a relationship and have found “the one”: congratulations; I swear I’m not bitter; and thanks for taking the time to read anyway.

If not building the foundation for a holy matrimony, how is a college student to spend their time? Here are some things that are likely to go better for you than courting a Harvard student. First, try adopting a therapy animal. If the clean-up is too much to bear, try playing an instrument. The Harvard Band is doing pretty well without you, so you should probably just start your own. Finally, rumor has it God will always love you, regardless of what your title is or who your last name came from.

Hold off on the “Mrs.” for now. The pieces of paper that are B.A. or B.S. will get you farther than a marriage license anyway. But maybe not as far as an M.S. will (I’m talking about the master’s degree, of course).

Jenna M. Gray ’19 is a Sociology concentrator in Leverett House. Her column appears on alternate Mondays.

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