The Changing Face of Marriage

Belinda Luscombe of Time Magazine writes this week about Marriage:  What’s It Good For?, pointing out that the state of marriage has shifted in unexpected ways. A couple of statistics they point to:

  • In 1960, nearly 70% of American adults were married; now only about half are. In 1960, 2/3 of 20-somethings were married; in 2008, just 26% were. College grads are now far more likely to marry (64%) than those with no higher education (48%).
  • The most interesting statistic they cite in the article is the percentage of children born to unmarried women.  In 1960, about 5% of children were born outside of marriage, compared to 41% in 2008.  And, broken down by race, in 2008, 72% of black children were born to unmarried women, compared to 53% of Hispanics and 29% of whites.

Marriage, today, practically speaking, is just not as necessary as it used to be.  40% of those surveyed believe marriage is obsolete. Now, neither men nor women need to be married to have sex or companionship or professional success or respect or even children. The largest statistical difference is that which has opened up between the rich and the poor.  In 1960, the median household income of married adults was 12% higher than that of single adults.  By 2008, the gap grew to 41%.  So, the richer and better educated you are, the more likely you are to marry or be married, says the article.

The reasons for getting married now include love, commitment, companionship, with having children and financial stability being less important reasons.  Also interesting is the effect the marriage statistics seem to be having on divorce statistics.  In recent years, the overall rate of divorce has plateaued.  The rate of divorce among college graduates has declined, which is offset by a rise in divorce among those at the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum.  Also, 2/3 of divorces are supposedly initiated by women.

Michelle May O’Neil is a Dallas-area lawyer and founding partner of O’Neil Anderson, a family law firm, and is a certified family law specialist by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. She can be reached at (972) 852-8000 or via email at michelle@oneilanderson.com. View her Divorce Magazine Profile, visit her website or herblog. Ms. O’Neil is a published author, with her second book Basics of Texas Divorce Law having been released this month.

3 comments

  1. actually, i hate my sister, cause she hate my mom, and because of her my parents almost divorce!! :Omore about divorce in australia

  2. Samantha Friedman says:

    To Whom It May Concern:
    My name is Samantha Friedman, an alumna of the University of California at Berkeley and Fordham University, and I am currently a doctoral clinical psychology student at Saybrook University (San Francisco). I am seeking adults between the ages of 20 and 35 who have experienced parental divorce in either childhood or adulthood to assist me in the completion of a study that examines the effects of parental divorce on marital attitudes and intimacy.

    If you agree to participate in this study, please click on this link (http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/TK8Q7GT) and complete the survey on SurveyMonkey.com. The online survey I am conducting is very easy to complete. The whole process is designed to take less than 15 minutes to complete. Participation in this study is completely voluntary and anonymous. You are free to not answer any question, to stop participating at any time for any reason, and to not have your information be part of the data set. All forms will be kept confidential; that is, no one will have knowledge of which questionnaire belongs to you.

    The aim of my study is to learn about the psychological impact of parental divorce, particularly how the age at which parental divorce occurs influences attitudes towards marriage and intimacy. It is of particular importance to examine the effects of parental divorce on marital attitudes and levels of intimacy because they are indicators of relationship stability. The ultimate goal of this study is to acquire data that can be used to assist adult children of divorce in understanding the impact of mid- to late-life parental divorce and develop strategies that encourage healthy, lasting marriages.

    Please contact me if you would like a summary of my findings when the project is finished. If you have any questions, please contact me at SamanthaFriedman@hotmail.com.

    Thank you in advance for your time and assistance. I really appreciate your help and I am sincerely grateful.

    Best wishes,

    Samantha Friedman

  3. Samatha Friedman says:

    To Whom It May Concern:

    My name is Samantha Friedman, an alumna of the University of California at Berkeley and Fordham University, and I am currently a doctoral clinical psychology student at Saybrook University (San Francisco). I am seeking adults between the ages of 20 and 35 who have experienced parental divorce in either childhood or adulthood to assist me in the completion of a study that examines the effects of parental divorce on marital attitudes and intimacy.

    If you agree to participate in this study, please click on this link (http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/TK8Q7GT) and complete the survey on SurveyMonkey.com. The online survey I am conducting is very easy to complete. The whole process is designed to take less than 10 minutes to complete. Participation in this study is completely voluntary and anonymous. You are free to not answer any question, to stop participating at any time for any reason, and to not have your information be part of the data set. All forms will be kept confidential; that is, no one will have knowledge of which questionnaire belongs to you.

    The aim of my study is to learn about the psychological impact of parental divorce, particularly how the age at which parental divorce occurs influences attitudes towards marriage and intimacy. It is of particular importance to examine the effects of parental divorce on marital attitudes and levels of intimacy because they are indicators of relationship stability. The ultimate goal of this study is to acquire data that can be used to assist adult children of divorce in understanding the impact of mid- to late-life parental divorce and develop strategies that encourage healthy, lasting marriages.

    Please contact me if you would like a summary of my findings when the project is finished. If you have any questions, please contact me at SamanthaFriedman@hotmail.com.

    Thank you in advance for your time and assistance. I really appreciate your help and I am sincerely grateful.

    Best wishes,

    Samantha Friedman

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