by Lindsey Vallem
It’s just a piece of paper…Isn’t love enough? A question some ask when considering marriage or finding themselves at that stage in a relationship. A growing number of adults think marriage isn’t a necessary commitment, and if it is, it will be one made years down the road. Aside from the changing of last names and some state benefits, what’s the reason to get married today?
I know many couples that have dated for years. Some have lived together as well and their desire to seal the deal is at of interest to either of them. They are perfectly content with their level of commitment and where their relationship stands. They see marriage as added stress, money issues and too much of an investment, and maybe just too much of an added commitment.
Barely half of all adults in the United States—a record low—are currently married, and the median age at first marriage has never been higher for brides (26.5 years) and grooms (28.7), according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census data.
In 1960, 72% of all adults ages 18 and older were married; today just 51% are. If current trends continue, the share of adults who are currently married will drop to below half within a few years. This decrease is a worldwide trend. It is unknown if today’s young adults are just delaying marriage or abandoning it altogether.
Public attitudes about the institution of marriage are mixed. Nearly four-in-ten Americans say marriage is becoming obsolete, according to a Pew Research survey in 2010. Yet the same survey found that most people who have never married (61%) would like to do so someday.
Fear of commitment is only one reason couples postpone marriage. Fear of the unknown also keeps couples in the “playing house” stage. Many of these cohabiting couples are also having children together, sometimes intentionally. And most do not recognize the problems that come with having children while cohabiting. According to the U.S. News when unmarried couples live together and have a baby, there is only a 20 perfect chance they will be married by the child’s 5th birthday.
Changing the attitudes of today’s couples to commit and get married sooner or just in general will be no small task. Those of us who believe in the value of marriage need to do a better job helping couples see the benefits of a fully committed relationship. This will not only benefit them, but it will benefit the lives of the children they bring into the world.