Nov. 24, 2010
By Mike McManus
TIME’s current cover story asks, “Who Needs Marriage?”
A surprising 39%
of Americans say that marriage is becoming “obsolete,” according to a poll
by TIME and Pew Research Center. Two-thirds of cohabiting couples agreed,
also 42% of conservatives, who are alarmed by the trend, and 44% of
Americans under age 30.
“It is no small
thing when nearly four-in-ten Americans agree that the world’s most enduring
social institution is becoming obsolete,” said Pew.
“becoming obsolete” is not the same as “obsolete.” When the World Values
Survey framed a similar question in 2006: “Marriage is an outdated
institution – agree or disagree?” - just 13% of Americans agreed.
In fact, only 5%
of adults under 30 do NOT want to get married. That’s evidence that marriage
is not becoming obsolete, despite the opinion of many.
even two-thirds of cohabiting people want to marry. However, after five
years only 16% had done so, and only 20% of the couples were still living
together, according to a Princeton/Columbia “Fragile Families” study.
disturbing about this is that 41% of all births are to unwed parents - 8
times the 5% of 1960. Half of unwed births are to those who are
Two-thirds of Americans think the trend of single women having children is
“bad for society,” and 61% believe a child needs both a mother and father
“to grow up happily.”
half of all adults are married today vs. 72% in 1960.
particularly disturbing is that marriage is disappearing for those with less
education. While 64% of college grads are married, only 48% of those with a
high school education marry. In 1960 both groups were equally likely to
marry: 72% of high school vs. 76% of college grads. Manufacturing jobs that
high schoolers could get – have disappeared. “The less educated wait until
they feel comfortable financially.” But that comfort is now elusive.
two-thirds of those in their 20s were already married but only 26% in 2008.
Why? A partial answer is that the average age of marriage has risen three
years to 28 for men and 26 for women.
Dr. W. Bradford
Wilcox, Director of the National Marriage Project says the sexual revolution
is another key factor. “People have access to sex outside of marriage, and
are less likely to have a commitment orientation.”
are so many are cohabiting, rather than marrying?
in their twenties and thirties distrust marriage,” my wife and I write in
our book, Living Together: Myths, Risks & Answers. Since 1970,
43 million people have experienced their parent’s divorce. “The Buster
Generation, children of Baby Boomers, have lived the horrors of divorce and
are wary of marriage for a good reason.”
However, of 7.5 million cohabiting
this year only 1.4 million will marry; 80% will ultimately break up.
asserts that “couples who cohabit before marrying don’t divorce any less
Not true. A Penn
State study by Paul Amato reports such couples are 61% more likely to
divorce than those who remained apart.
America marries is making the American Dream unreachable for many of its
people,” lamented TIME. ‘Yet marriage is still the best avenue most people
have for making their dreams come true.”
neither TIME nor Pew provide evidence.
years ago Maggie Gallagher and Linda Waite wrote, The Case for
Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier and Better Off
Financially. It cited hundreds of studies with evidence. Examples:
When a Gallup Poll asked couples to grade their marriage, 68%
gave it an A; 23% a B. True, 6% gave it a C, and 1% a D, 1%, F. “Nor do
unhappy marriages stay that way: 86 percent of those who rated their
marriage as unhappy in the late eighties and who were still married five
years later, said their marriage had become happier,” they report.
“Married couples live longer,” they write. “Being unmarried
chops almost ten years off a man’s life.” Similarly, unmarried women
will live fewer years than married women with cancer or living in poverty.
“Married couples are wealthier... Married men earn between 10
and 40 percent more than do single men with similar education and job
“Married people have more and better sex than singles,” they
assert. Two-fifths of married couples have sex at least twice a week
compared to 20% - 25% of singles.
“The Lord God said, “It is not good for man to be alone” (Gen. 2:15)