Is Marriage a Failing Institution?
Some statistics may suggest that marriage is a dying institution. According to recent Pew Research Center findings, only around half of all Americans are currently married. This may sound fairly normal until you realize that in 1960, that percentage was much closer to three-fourths. What’s causing the steep decline in interest? Financial burden isn’t having much of an effect, according to Pew.
Some naysayers claim the purpose of marriage is becoming obsolete in a modern society where people can maintain what they need for themselves with technology. Scientists speculate that by 2050, we may become so in love with our computers, that we may actually marry them—in other words, a handful of men and women may prefer robot companions to that of human. According to statistics, a portion of couples are already happy with long-distance Internet relationships rather than physical relationships, which isn’t all that different.
According to PEW researchers, there are a couple of reasons why some people might be losing faith in marriage:
• Social Obligation. Society helps dictate how people live, and with a much more open attitude towards single parent adoptions and same-sex marriages, the idea of becoming a husband or wife is no longer necessary to be an accepted member of society.
• Independence. Both men and women, age 18 to 35, and age 45 and older, are enjoying their freedom. Sure, they still have the need for some companionship. However, when they get tired of their company, they are glad they can boot them out the door, reclaim their own bedroom, and get some private, quiet time to themselves.
• Financial freedom. While some couples still combine earning power to enjoy more wealth, many singles are proud of the fact that they are completely financially independent. On the opposite side of that coin, more 20 and 30-something’s are living at home, extending their childhood well past adulthood.
• Education. Young Americans who are attending a university to boost their career potential are putting off settling down until later in life. Maintaining relationships without marriage, perhaps gives them more opportunities to hold onto their sanity and wealth without fear of losing it to divorce.
• Satisfaction. With comfort brings stability, and with stability decreases the justification to settle. More and more singles are waiting for their soulmate. If he or she doesn’t come along, they are satisfied with the idea of remaining single.
So, who still wants marriage? Let’s see what a few different groups have to say about it.
• Single (never been married). 61 percent of singles do believe in marriage, and hope to one day be a part of that institution. Out of the Americans who are not so enthusiastic about the prospects of marriage, 47 percent say that they would give it a try if the opportunity arose.
• Divorced. Only 27 percent of this group says they would attempt marriage again. The majority of these men and women report in surveys that they are much happier being single.
• College educated. Statistics suggest that the college graduate is still very much in agreement with the institute of marriage. While they may be putting it off longer (median age 28.7 for men and 26.5 for women), 67 percent of this group will eventually get married.
• High School Educated. Only 48 percent of Americans who are high school educated (or less) are getting married, and they are also more likely to consider marriage as obsolete.
• Age. While the number of 18 to 35-year-old Americans getting married is decreasing, especially the 18 to 24 crew, who are 91 percent single (up 36 percent from 1960); the 36 to 45 age range continues to marry more than ever.
• Race. White Americans make up 55 percent of all married couples, compared to 48 percent of Hispanic Americans and 31 percent of black Americans. Reporters also mention that this disparity may be explained by the relatively young age of the latter groups.
The remaining, trend-setting married couples are clearly waiting longer, which means they are better prepared, more financially stable, and less likely to be a part of divorce statistics down the road. Who needs marriage? Nobody, other than those who are certain they have found their love of a lifetime. Even those who are fairly certain they have discovered their happily ever after, certainly don’t need to spend a couple hundred dollars in fees just to profess their devotion to each other.
However, I do not think that marriage has become obsolete, but rather is being reserved for those who are ready to take on its pledge with eyes wide open. Marriage may be becoming something to aspire to, rather than something we have to do. There is something peculiar that happens when a society puts a certain type of relationship on a pedestal. It becomes something we strive for. The fact that nobody needs marriage, may be the best thing that ever happened to it.
“Relationships magnify the human experience.” – Quinn ext. 5484
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