Trend Analysis: Marriage Decline in America

Topics: Marriage, Same-sex marriage, Family Pages: 13 (4282 words) Published: February 16, 2014


The Decline of Marriage in America

Emma Zvanovec

Writing Studies 1301
Mrs. DeValk
13 February 2014
Emma Zvanovec
Mrs. DeValk
Writing Studies 1301
9 January 2013

The Decline of Marriage in America

Try to imagine a world where people don’t get married. Marriage doesn’t exist and people don’t live in partnerships. They just reproduce and live their own lives as they desire without depending or being held back by someone else. Soon, the concept may not be so foreign; Americans are slowly growing to favor this concept. The ideal American lifestyle follows a certain outline-- you go to school and get good grades, you go to college and get a degree that will help you earn a lot of money, and you’ll get married and start a family. If you follow these steps correctly, you have the recipe for the perfect life. But, what if one of those elements were removed? What if marriage was no longer part of the equation and the key to being happy was being single? Marriage is a legal and religious institution that has been around for thousands of years. It’s something that’s been changed and redesigned and repurposed over the years, but it’s always been around. From a theological perspective, it’s a union formed by God, but to early humans it was a union made for power, money, and any other reason but love. In an article from Psychology Today, the “Marriage, a History” article states that in the Victorian Era, adultery was common because of loveless marriages. The real change came about in the 1920s in America when the dating trend began. By the 1950s, the nuclear family exploded and became the new norm. To follow the explosion of nuclear families, the divorce rate exploded in the 1970s. Women became more independent, and they have been ever since. Today the marriage rate remains low. Statistics show that the marriage rate is declining and many believe that it will continue to decline into the future. People that choose the unmarried life, or “singles,” are a growing population in the country and will soon create a new lifestyle desired by many young people coming of age. The U.S. Census bureau in 1970 shows that the percent of males never married ages 20-24 years was 35.8% and ages 40-44 was 4.9%. In 2010 the percent of males never married ages 20-24 was 88.7% and ages 40-44 was 20.4%. For women, the numbers show the same results. Overall, the marriage rate has fallen 40.4% since 1970 and the divorce rate doubled (McManus). The reasons are many and vary, but marriage isn’t the institution that it once was. When polled, 40% of Americans said that marriage already is or is becoming obsolete (Hallett). The media thrives on sexuality, and marriage cramps the glamorous single lifestyle. Many TV shows show wealthy, single people that go out frequently and enjoy pursuing others, not actually committing and settling down to get married and start a family. Although marriage is becoming less sexy, cohabitation is becoming more. Since 1960, fifteen times more households have unmarried people living together, and half of these households have children (Gabel). The type of person that cohabitates is a specific type. For example, they’re more likely to be liberal, less religious, and children of divorce. People in these types of relationships live and act like married people, so to cohabitors, it feels like a real marriage. However, no initial lifelong commitment occurs, so there’s no feeling of security or permanence (McManus). Successful cohabitation leads people to believe that marriage is unnecessary, and cohabitation’s ending badly can end up turning an individual away from marriage. Society has progressed since the 1970s when the marriage decline began. Prior to that, marriage was an ideal that people wanted for themselves; they wanted a simple and secure life. When the tides turned and the divorce rate started going up, people began looking for a trendy single lifestyle. After all, single people spend 33%...

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