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Making Census Of Marriage Trends


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Love

What’s needed to understand the facts and determine if it's possible to create Better Marriages

What’s needed to understand the facts and determine if it's possible to create Better Marriages

As an advocate of marriage, I pay very close attention to the current information about what’s happening for real people on the marriage front. Truth be told, all of it is a little confusing at times. What we read about in the news and watch on popular television often delivers trumped up facts or facts that are interpreted with the angle of selling clicks/papers. It’s hard to know what’s really going on without a lot of digging on your own and very few of us really have the time for that.

As an advocate of marriage, I pay very close attention to the current information about what’s happening for real people on the marriage front. Truth be told, all of it is a little confusing at times. What we read about in the news and watch on popular television often delivers trumped up facts or facts that are interpreted with the angle of selling clicks/papers. It’s hard to know what’s really going on without a lot of digging on your own and very few of us really have the time for that.

A few weeks back, my inbox was flooded with newsletters announcing the latest 2010 census data on marriage. The interpretation of what it all meant was once again, no different. The marriage traditionalists were claiming some victories; the marriage antagonists were waving the flag again that says “marriage is obsolete”. What is the truth? As someone whose life work centers around creating “Better Marriages”, I wanted to get to the facts.

This time, I decided to go to the source and decide for myself what it all meant. Going in, my questions were:

  • Is marriage really as “obsolete of an institution” as some say?
  • Is the divorce rate still 50%?
  • Are young people avoiding marriage all together in exchange for simply living with their partner?
  • Can living with a partner benefit someone as deeply as a traditional marriage historically has?
  • As a believer in marriage, is this good or bad for our culture?
  • And how can I change any of this?

My assumptions were that things are still “bad”; that marriage is no longer seen as the grounding force in our society that it once was. I’m very happily married and have experienced extraordinary benefits from my life-long partnership with my husband. Are people really going to choose to miss out on this kind of experience? For me, it’s changed my life so much so that I work each year with the Better Marriage Fiesta; I just wonder how we can share this insight with people and do it Better?

First the facts; the census brought to light both good news and bad news about marriage. According to the census, there are more “never-been-married” singles, ages 25 to 34, in the U.S. than married. The data shows that for the first time, the proportion of people between the ages of 25 and 34 who have “never been married” exceeded the number of people married in 2009—46.3% versus 44.9%.

While at first blush, this may seem to give way to the argument that fewer people are getting married and therefore, marriage is growing obsolete, they also offer this second fact: people are marrying later in life with the average age in 2009 for a first marriage being 28 for men and 26 for women. This trend in getting married later in life is reflective of two things: our current economic struggles and a growing maturity when it comes to entering marriage.

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