May 27, 2019

The rise and fall of marriage

Matt Weir / The Collegian

To live with a partner, have premarital sex or raise children out of wedlock was once frowned upon. But as Generation X replace the Baby Boomers, the conservative attitude toward marriage has been radically liberalized.

There are fewer marriages, more divorces, less children and more couples living together today, than in 1960–when the percentage of Americans married with children was at an all-time high.

According to a 2010 study by the Pew Research Center in association with TIME Magazine, 68 percent of all twenty something year olds were married in 1960; now only 26 percent are.

In science, opposites attract. In reality, opposites are less likely to exchange vows.

The Pew study shows that Americans are increasingly marrying their counterpart; in particular, someone with the same educational level, as New York University sociologist Dalton Conley points out in the latest issue of TIME.

“Fifty years ago, if you were a high school dropout [or] if you were a college graduate or a doctor, marriage probably meant more or less the same thing. Now it’s very different depending where you are in society,” Conley says. “Getting married is an important part of college graduates’ plans for their future. For the less well educated, it’s often the only plan.”

The definition of what marriage was and what marriage is lies oceans a part.

Marriage was similar to the that childhood jump rope rhyme: Joanie and Chachi sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G, first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in a baby carriage.

It was a formula of expectations. A belief that once you find love, you get married and start a family.

Whereas today, Joanie and Chachi are probably doing a lot more than kissing in that tree and it still won’t lead to love or marriage.

But it may just lead to babies which could explain the eightfold increase of single moms from 5 percent in 1960 to 41 percent in 2008. Marriage is no longer necessary to form a family. Nearly 40 percent of Americans think that marriage has become obsolete; compared to the 28 percent that did.

Many ideals were lost since the 1960s, however, the sanctity of marriage was not one of them. The Pew survey indicates that Americans still desire to get married–it’s just a matter of time.

In science, genes skip a generation. I hope that Generation X can mirror that of our grandparents relationships and not be plagued by that of our parents.

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