Fewer people than ever before are getting married. In fact, research shows that less than half of Americans believe in it anymore and that four out of ten Americans say marriage is becoming “obsolete.”
Marriage is on the decline in general, particularly for people considering second marriages. For those who have been married once before, only 26% said they would do it again.
Maybe it is not that people are not doing it at all, but that they are simply delaying it. Women today marry at an average age of 26, and men at the average old age of 28. In 1960, the average age of marriage was 18.
This may be because more women are going to college and are pursuing further education, delaying marriage to start their careers.
Perhaps a generation of young people growing up with parents who divorced at a rate of nearly 50% or more have experienced a negative connection to long term commitment have a decreased the desire for marriage as a result.
And yet we need marriage in our society. Marriage is better for the economy; couples spend more when they are married with children. Men work harder when they are married and they live longer when they have a wife.
Couples that live as married spouses are better parents. And marriage may provide many of the emotional and relational satisfaction that cannot even be measured in statistical research.
If marriage is a trend that seems to be fading, will love, too go out of fashion? Or will couples always seek commitment, monogamy and love in traditional and nontraditional ways? Will romance ever override a statistical decline in marriage rates? Let’s revisit this as we get closer to Valentine’s Day and we’ll take another look at the state of marriage then.
For young people today who wonder if marriage is obsolete, Bob and Tilda, married 49 years, have this to say; “We love being married. Did it work out every day of our married lives together? Hell no,” says Bob, now almost 75 years young. “But I wouldn’t trade all these years with Tilda for a second wife or a life as a bachelor. I think young people today are smart to wait, but I wouldn’t want them to miss out on what we’ve had.” Tilda nods and smiles.
She winks at me as I wait for her comment. “What?” she says. “That’s all there is.”
Dr. Tammy Nelson is a sex and relationship expert and the author of the upcoming “The New Monogamy” as well as Getting the “Sex You Want" and "What’s Eating You?” She can be found at www.drtammynelson.com