162 Reasons to Marry!
Those of us who believe in
marriage are not doing a good job. The marriage rate has plunged 54% since
1970. If the same percentage of couples were getting married today as in
1970, we would have 3.3 million marriages this year, not 2.2 million.
The cover story of the
Washington Post Magazine on Sunday, “When You Never Find The One,” quoted
people rationalizing about their singleness. “This is who I am. I’m single.
I love it,” says assistant professor Bella DePaulo.
“Settling just never seemed
like the right move,” writes blogger Wendy Braitman.
Has marriage become less
attractive? Obviously, it has for many people. The percentage of married
adults used to be 72% and is now only 51%.
However, Pat Fagan, head of
the MARRI Institute at the Family Research Council, has written a paper full
of hope: “162 Reasons to Marry.”
It is must reading for
your single friends.
“Marriage is the foundational
relationship for all of society…Good marriages are the bedrock of strong
societies, for they are the foundations of strong families,” he begins.
“The future of the human race
and all its component societies is embodied in each newborn. Whether that
newborn grows to be a strong capable adult depends much on the marriage of
his parents. Whether he is physically strong; whether she is intelligent;
whether he is hardworking or a dropout; whether she will be mentally healthy
and happy; whether he will be more educated; whether she will marry in her
own turn; whether he will be a taxpayer or a drain on the commons; whether
she enjoys sexuality to the full; whether he worships and prays; whether she
has children and how many; whether he finishes high school and goes to
college or learns a trade; whether she is law-abiding; whether he grows old
with a family surrounding him – all these most desirable outcomes…are
strongly connected to the strength of that child’s parents.”
If that sounds like it was
written by a man with eight children, it was!
However, only 46% of
teenagers are living in an intact married family. More than half are
growing up in homes where the parents “rejected each other,” as Fagan wrote
That is what is ominous.
Women raised in intact
married homes have the lowest number of unwed births, are more likely to
marry and less likely to divorce, says the report. They are “the least
likely to have intercourse before age 18,” have fewer sexual partners and
are least likely to cohabit.
But cohabitation has
skyrocketed from 430,000 in 1960 to 7.5 million in 2010. Unwed births have
soared eight-fold from 5% to 41% of all births, and are mostly to cohabiting
Children from intact
married families are most likely to earn As in school and to have the
“highest combined English and math grade point averages.”
international math comparisons, Americans scored 487 while Japanese, Koreans
and Chinese scored from 540 to 600. The unwed birth rate is 41% here, 2% in
“Children from intact
families exceed their parents educational attainment (sons by 2 .8 years,
daughters by 2.5 years)….Married men work more hours than cohabiting men”
and their productivity increases by 27% as a result of marrying,” the report
Married families have
larger incomes, larger net worth, and the largest net worth growth of
between $3,000 and $17,000 in two years. Conversely, if biological single
parents of poor children marry, 70% of those kids would immediately move
into the middle class.
Marriage also reduces
crime rates. Adolescents from married homes are less likely to steal, to
fight, be delinquent or run away from home. Conversely, teenagers from
divorced families are more verbally aggressive and violent toward their
“Marriage is especially
beneficial for the health of the elderly.” That’s an understatement. A
married woman will live four years longer – and a man, ten years longer than
a single one. “It seems that marriage, as a sort of social support,
strengthens the immune system,” and married people smoke and drink less and
maintain healthier weight.
Result: married people’s
“responses to cancer treatment are better and comparable to people 10 years
However, what is to be
done about plunging marriage rates?
The report’s response is
feeble: “Maybe we can hope that the children who experienced so much
rejection between their parents will become the greatest generation of
parents who belong to each other in lifelong marriage.”
I doubt it.
One good answer, however, is give the
report to unmarried friends. Download it free at
FamilyResearchCouncil.org, Go to the Marriage and Family section.