In 2017, marriage might be the last thing on millennials' minds. Hurricane Harvey is devastating Texas, white supremacists are assembling across the country, and Donald Trump has yet to be impeached. It's a difficult time for many, but Lake Bell — director, writer, and star of I Do... Until I Don't — argues that marriage is actually one of the bravest acts we can commit in 2017 — simply because it is focused on love instead of hate.
"In this day and age of darkness, worry, and angst, we’re dealing with so much in this country and on the whole world stage. There’s a lot of negativity and anger," she says at the Beverly Hills Four Seasons hotel during the press day for the film. "What is important to me and my family and to my own heart is to send out messages of hope and pings of kind spirit."
When crafting I Do... Until I Don't, about several couples struggling in their marriages, Bell's hope was to make the idea of tying yourself to another person understandable (and perhaps aspirational) to current generations. "Ultimately the [film] is deeply romantic, deeply hopeful, and pro-commitment, pro-marriage," she says, sitting on the edge of a bed inside the sunny hotel room.
Yet in the United States today there are more unmarried women than ever before. According to the U.S. Census, the number of single adult women outweighed married adult women for the first time ever in 2009. There’s also more benefits to being single in 2017, like increased psychological growth and development, according to a study presented at the American Psychological Association's Annual Convention in Denver. There's also health benefits, as a study published in the Social Science Quarterly suggests marriage no longer leads to good health.
Even though it may actually be beneficial to keep your options open in 2017, For Bell, the appeal of marriage is the effort it takes — the idea of fighting through problems instead of running away from them. "What I've learned is that to be perpetually single and to bail when things get hard is an easier path than being brave and staying with someone if there is good there," she says. "Let someone call you out on your shit, and call someone else out on their shit. That is brave, and that is how we evolve... otherwise I think you end up in a state of arrested development."
Yet it should be noted that the 38-year-old mother of two wasn't always pro-marriage. In fact, she used to be far from it. Growing up with divorced parents, she initially considered the idea of marriage "archaic" and "unsustainable." I felt like, "'God, that's a tall order to say 'til death do us part.' We live too long at this point to ask for that, with all the distractions... the way society is built. It’s very hard to focus on monogamy or just one other person for that matter."
But then everything changed, including her opinions on marriage, when she met her would-be husband, Scott Campbell. "He even said, ‘I didn’t know if you would say yes or not. I was going on a limb,'" she says, sliding off the bed onto a cross-legged position on the floor. "I was just so wild about him that I was like, ‘I’m afraid, but I can’t think of anyone else I would want to be afraid with.’" And the rest — as her film, which hits theaters Sept. 1, proves — is history.
Though recent findings may argue it's completely healthy and common to remain single, there are clearly strong arguments to getting married as well. But, like all matters of the heart, the answer of whether or not to wed is simple: to each her own.