By Tanajah Fryer
May 8, 2023
Ava Araujo and Joey Salafia met in elementary school when they were 10 years old. All of the boys had a crush on Ava, but she wasn’t interested. When Joey would get bullied by the other kids, Ava sat next to him so that they could become friends. Then, Ava moved and switched schools. Eight years later they ran into each other at the beach, which would be the beginning of their three-year relationship.
They both value the idea of marriage.
“I want to get married because marriage is an important step in many people’s lives,” Joey Salafia says. “It offers companionship, stability, and the opportunity to build a family and legacy.”
According to the U.S. Census, marriage rates have declined by over 10%. In 2018, there were 16.3 new marriages for every 1,000 women age 15 or older in the U.S. compared to 17.6 in 2009
Professor Nancy Naples, who teaches sociology at The University of Connecticut and has expertise in economics, gender, and sexuality, said that there are many reasons that can cause the decline in marriages. Her glasses slid down the bridge of her nose as she looked to the upper right corner of her office and recollected her thoughts on marriage.
“If you think about marriage being something that is not a permanent rest of your life commitment, and you see half the population or whatever it is now getting divorced, then it seems like it has also changed its meaning in terms of a life path,” Naples said.
Living together before marriage can decrease the likelihood of getting married, Naples said, and young people have been more likely to shack up.
After college, Krista Lastrina married her high school sweetheart. Wearing a beautiful white dress, Lastrina locked arms with her father as he escorted her to her future husband. However, Lastrina’s marriage did not last long before she was divorced. Now she believes that people should wait for marriage.
She has owned a bridal boutique in Middletown, Connecticut, for 13 years. She opened it after graduating from the University of Connecticut with a degree in landscape architecture.
“You’re not seeing people who are getting married right out of college or anything like that anymore, definitely girls who are getting into their 30s and even beyond,” Lastrina said as she stood under a rhinestone chandelier at the entrance of her shop.
Nearby a mini leafless light-up tree stood on her desk. Thank you cards were stuck onto the branches with tape.
“I’d like to think it’s because I myself am divorced, and I did get married not too far out of college, I’d like to hope that it’s because people are taking the time to maybe mature a little bit or find a career find themselves before committing to a certain someone,” Lastrina said as she sat on the cream-colored love chair in the back of her bridal shop.
Lastrina helps around 20 brides a week find a dress. She said she believes people often decide whether to get married based on financial reasons. Many weddings cost about $50,000, she said, so many parents help their children with financial costs.
Twenty-three-year-old Olivia Burghuer was born and raised in Hartford. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in history and critical race and ethnic studies from the University of Chicago. She may go on to pursue a Ph.D.
She believes that marriage is a business more than it is about love, and she doesn’t need to get married to prove it, she said as she sat in a Starbucks within Barnes and Noble in Farmington with a Venti-sized latte in her hand.Burghuer’s parents, Jamaican immigrants, have been married for more than 20 years. But she knows her mother married her father for security.
“I think I definitely am searching for a partner that is also interested academically, you know, who likes to read and things like that,” she said. “And I just find that a lot of men our age aren’t interested or interested in furthering their academic success as much as I am.”
Driving down Main Street in 1990, Ora and Wallace Carter were leaving the grocery store when Wallace parked on the side of the street. With a big smile on his face, Wallace grabbed Ora’s left hand with his right and asked for her hand in marriage.
Brother Wallace and Reverend Ora are now ministers at the same church, and the key to their marriage is nothing but love. The two keep God at the center of their union especially when resolving conflict. The issue they’ve noticed with younger generations is that couples split when times are rough.
During times of difficulty Reverend Ora turns her Bible to Hebrews 13:4 “Let marriage be held in honor among all.”
Ora said she thinks sometimes people get married for the wrong reasons.
“If you do it and it’s not for love, it won’t work out,” she said.