According to a TIME/Pew research poll released last week, 40 percent of Americans believe that marriage is becoming obsolete, up from just 28 percent in 1978.
In that same poll, only one in four unmarried Americans say they do not want to get married. And among currently married men and women, 80 percent say their marriage is as close as or closer than their parents’ marriage.
These seemingly contradictory responses reflect the public’s recognition of a new and complex reality. On the one hand, marriage as a voluntary relationship based on love and commitment is held in higher regard than ever, with more people saying that love is essential to marriage (Consider that in 1967, two-thirds of college women said they’d consider marrying a man they didn’t love if he met other criteria, such as offering respectability and financial security.)
But as an institution that regulates people’s lives, marriage is no longer the social and economic necessity it once was. People can construct successful lives outside marriage in ways that would have been very difficult to manage 50 years ago, and they have a far greater range of choices about whether to marry, when to marry, and how to organize their marriages.
This often makes them more cautious in committing to marriage and more picky about their partners than people were in the past…
Today, however, there are plenty of other ways to grow up, seek financial independence, and meet one’s needs for companionship and sex. So what might have seemed a “good enough” reason to enter marriage in the past no longer seems sufficient to many people…
These higher expectations are good news for many marriages. People who can meet the high bar that most Americans now feel is appropriate for the transition to marriage — people who delay marriage to get an education, who have accumulated a nest egg or established themselves in a secure line of work — typically have higher quality marriages than other Americans, research shows, and their divorce rates have been falling for the past 25 years.
RTFA. Lots of interesting questions asked. There are some readymade answers. I think you’d enjoy working out your own answers. At least I hope so.
Poisonally, I think a great deal of strengthening of relationships, marriages, has to do with the diminished effect of organized religion. Unreality and superstition – no matter how ingrained in a community – lessens the ability of individuals and couples to deal with life in a changing society.