Is Marriage Dying Or Just Being Reborn?

Bride and groom

There’s been far too much blather about the death of marriage. It’s true that there a more single people than ever before. It’s true that equality in the workplace has negated the financial need for women to find husbands. It’s true that the stigma of being single has gone way down since the ’60’s.

Yet the vast majority of people eventually get married – just at a different pace than before. According to my favorite expert on this subject, Stephanie Coontz, “Today the average age of first marriage is almost 27 for women and 29 for men, and the range of ages at first marriage is much more spread out. In 1960, fewer than 8 percent of women and only 13 percent of men married for the first time at age 30 or older, compared with almost a third of all women and more than 40 percent of all men today. Most Americans still marry eventually, and they continue to hold marriage in high regard.”

There’s been far too much blather about the death of marriage.

All the talk about smart, strong, successful women pricing themselves out of the market? Also untrue. “New research by the sociologist Leslie McCall reveals that while marriage rates have fallen for most women since 1980, those for the highest earning women have increased, to 64 percent in 2010 from 58 percent in 1980. Women in the top 15 percent of earners are now more likely to be married than their lower-earning counterparts.”

It’s no surprise to me. With education and upward mobility comes self-esteem, more options, and better decision making. A woman making $100K is less likely to marry a bad man simply for stability than a woman who has no education and two kids out of wedlock.

Finally, the old statistic that living together hurts your prospects of marriage? It’s history – at least for professional women.

“Two-thirds of couples who marry today are already living together. For most of the 20th century, couples who lived together before marriage had a greater chance of divorce than those who entered directly into marriage. But when the demographer Wendy Manning and her colleagues looked at couples married since 1996, they found that this older association no longer prevailed. For couples married since the mid-1990s, cohabitation before marriage is not associated with an elevated risk of marital dissolution.”

Any suggestion that marriage is a dying institution or a recipe for failure is based on your own experience, not on the actual facts.

As always, if you don’t want to get married and you’d rather be single, that’s your business. But any suggestion that marriage is a dying institution or a recipe for failure is based on your own experience, not on the actual facts.

Click here to read the article and share your thoughts on marriage below. Do you believe in the institution?

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  1. 21

    Yes Karl, women do benefit from marriage but my point is men benefit far more then women so you would have to be stupid to not be married if you were a man. The benefit for women just isn’t much in comparison, although there are some benefits. Mainly financially but that is changing and depends on what kind of job you get. I think the facts seem to be suggestive that men need women far more then women need men, especially since women have been able to work in the world. The old days of needing a man for money are gone (well some women still use or rely on men but I won’t go into that). That’s why the whole dating field has changed. I honestly think women are smarter then men and we are obviously seeing more women move into science and math because culturally this was not something women were encouraged to do. It’s only a matter of time that women start wielding equal power on the political level and having more CEOs.
    Chance, google the data. Evan has posted many articles that say the same thing I do, namely that marriage benefits people. Anyways, yes it would probably apply to living common law but in my country you are considered married if you have lived together for 1 year so whether you get a paper or not, you are married in my country if you are living together for more then 1 year. So your distinction is not relevant because most long term relationships are for more then a year and usually involve living together.
    As a single woman who wants to get married, I think my life would be better (economically mainly since I have returned to school) and that I would be happier. I know Evan has posted about the same sentiments. I am fairly happy with myself but I think being married with the right man would add to my existing happiness so I am not desperate for a man. I do want a family and that’s not something I want to do on my own. I could but it would be probably very difficult. So women need men in this way because to raise a child on your own in this culture is far too much work. Historically the responsibility has always been shared and I think that makes sense because it takes a lot of energy and resources to raise a child.

  2. 22

    @Michelle #12 – When women don’t want to settle it’s ‘more power to you.’   When men don’t want to settle it’s ‘superficial’?   It’s not like my stock is going down and I’m refusing to settle… that’s sad and pathetic.   My stock seems to be improving and I feel I would regret not finding out exactly how high it can get before I settle down.   What’s wrong with that?   Plus my relationships have all been good except for one.   Matter of fact I’m still friends with the majority of my ex’s.   It’s not like I was being an a-hole.   It just didn’t work because I haven’t been blown away.   And it keeps getting better.   With that knowledge why would I settle?

    @marymary #15 – I’ll take that to heart.   I understand things can’t continuously improve or that I can’t just expect to keep dating the rest of my life.   But I’m also the type of person that regrets not trying things.   And right now I feel I’d regret not trying to see just how good of a relationship I can find.   I fully know I might miss out on something.   But with that mentality I would have settled for someone when I was 35.   Knowing what I know and have experience now I feel that I’ve dodged a bullet.   At 35 I would have settled for a 6.(1-10 with 5 being average)   Now I feel like I’m dating 8s.   So even if I end up with a 7 I’m better off trying see where things go.   And I’m not talking just looks either.   They are smart, attractive caring women.   They’re just getting smarter, more attractive and caring… and sometimes younger.
    @Paula – The benefits thing is so outdated.   It’s relative.   Since this site is catering to the successful people.   Let me tell you.   Those ‘benefits’ don’t really apply to men like me.
    Sex – Yeah, I have no problem dating and having sex.   And I get to have that ‘honeymoon’ phase over and over again.   You make it sound like people like me don’t have married male friends.   Believe me they live  vicariously through me for a reason.
    Partnership – In the case of parenting I can understand that.   Although see below.
    Maid – Believe me it would be cheaper for me to hire a maid.   Matter of fact I do.   And if I end up adopting I think I might get out ahead.   A nanny and a maid would still be cheaper from my point of view.
    Reduced expenses – Again.   I make good money.   Chances are a wife will just mean MORE expenses for me to continue living my current lifestyle.

  3. 23
    Karl T

    Your ideas are whacked.   Men benefit far more than women from marriage??   Where the hell does that even come from???   You also say that you think women are smarter than men??   Biased much????   I would never make such a comment.   Different individuals are smarter than other individuals and sometimes they are NOT smarter in every aspect!!   You have some pretty whacked out ideas.  

  4. 24

    @Morris 11
    Your sentiments are common and understandable amongst men: you didn’t want me when you were young and hot, so why should I want you now that you’re getting old? Here’s the problem with it, its bogus and disingenuous to act like you would have married at 19, 20, 21 if ONLY you had an attractive girl your age who wanted to. It irks me to no end how men act like they were SERIOUSLY willing and ready to marry young to any one of their young female counterparts, but were having their proposals rejected or their fantasies of being able to propose shot down by disinterest and rejection. Get REAL. If you could have gotten a lot of   girls when you were younger, you would have done what men of any age do when they have options, and you would NOT have settled, likely embittering a few nice girls in the process who were looking to you for real love and commitment.  

  5. 25

    Morris: It isn’t that you started suddenly getting the hot women from your youth as you got older, it’s that the “unattractive” women from your youth got hotter. Hotness is merely about packaging, and it’s very easy to learn how to use packaging to attract a guy. You know what isn’t easy to do?  Finish law school and pass the bar. Who wants to deal with  some crazy dating thing when you’re working on your smarts? There’s a time for everything, and once all those women earned their bona fides they got a makeover and started dating the guys who wouldn’t have looked twice at them before.

  6. 26

    @ Michelle and Paula
    Dear ladies, men do not need to be sold on the benefits of marriage. When they meet the right woman (the one they wish to spend their life with AND have kids with) they make sure she will stay.
    That is not to say  I do not get annoyed by the guys on this blog   who brag about hot women flocking around them and how they are constantly upgrading to better versions :-). So, for them it is “I have not found the one and I am loving the search” whereas for the target audience of this blog it  seems to be  “I have not found the one and I hate the search”.
    There is one major unfairness with regards to serial dating – it does not diminish the perceived value of men, but is does diminish the perceived value of women. Women who develop a thick skin to this phenomenon can enjoy long years of upgrades  themselves.
    With regards to marriage as an institution – I am not sure how young people (20s-30s)   look at it. Being 40 –   I do not see it as dying at all. A couple of years ago, there was a major wave of  separations among my friends (early 40s).  Today only one is still divorced, some of the others remarried, some went back to their spouse with whom they had separated, and my best friend remarried her first husband. Obviously, this observation does not cover the world, and statistics may show different… But to my mind, marriage is alive and kicking 🙂

  7. 27

    @Paula, knowing fully well of all the marital hazards that goes with being a married woman, i can’t seem to figure out why you would want any part of it. Seriously, why would you want to sign up for an institution that would be of little or no health benefit to you?   I can understand if it’s all about the finances.  

  8. 28

    Morris that is your pattern you like casual sex, causal relationships, and the honeymon period over and over. Those are all superficilal relationships as in they are not getting and deeper and turning into deep emotional connected love, they are based physical superficial lust which cannot last and always fizzles out. Failing to fully emotional connect on a deeper less superficial level where real   love develops and   gets deeper and deeper and grows and expands and lasts.
    Nothing wrong with that if that is what you want and you are happy and are open and honest with the women involved. So they then don’t then not don’t waste waste their time investing in someone who only wants casual short term superfical physical for now relationships or flings. If what they want and are looking for is more thanial superfical suface level physical connection and are wanting   a deeper emotionally intimate life partner or marraige and therefor makes you and them not compatible.
    As smarter attractive caring and younger are superficial surface level traits that do not tell me anything about who the real person is inside and their values. Those things are not good indicators that this person is a good bet or best person for me to pair bond and have as my life partner and father of my children.
    Felt a bit unerved by hearing about adopting a child and just having a nanny and a maid.
    Children need more than their physical needs met to thrive.

  9. 29
    Brandon B

    @Paula #21: The fact that you “honestly think women are smarter than men” should tell everyone here just how much credibility to place in your opinions. But that said, I’ll still address this idea that men would be “stupid” not to get married. It’s already been pointed out that the superficial “benefits” you mention are not tied to marriage…just a committed partnership. Nor are they exclusive benefits to men. But the major disadvantage to men, at least in the USA, is divorce. Divorce law seems to be heavily skewed towards benefiting women, regardless of the circumstances. I know ZERO women who lost anything that they didn’t have going into the marriage in a divorce. I know a dozen or so men who have lost their children, the belongings, and/or large chunks of their income because of divorce. And in some cases, the women were wholly to blame for the separation. Its ridiculous, and a huge downside to marriage for men.  
    @Michelle #24: you would have done what men of any age do when they have options, and you would NOT have settled, likely embittering a few nice girls in the process”

    You obviously didn’t read my first response here, or a couple of others that speak directly against that. Good men who are ready will commit to the right woman, even in the face of many options. I’m a good example, and I know a number of other men who are as well. I have options, yet choose to commit to one. It sounds like your personal experiences are blinding you to that fact.     

  10. 30

    Morris #22
    <<They are smart, attractive caring women.>>
    If that’s so, they are going to figure you out quickly, and move on. Anyone who thinks that they could replace their child’s mother with “a nanny and a maid” because it’s “cheaper”, isn’t to be taken seriously. Good for you, you’ve accomplished your goal of keeping things casual, but trust me, women don’t take you seriously either.
    Makes me wonder, at what point does “exploring my options” become commitmentphobia?

  11. 31

    As my late mother used to say, “Marriage is beautiful with the right person.” So whether or not I would remarry would depend upon if I found the right person. Married and divorced twice, I am 51 now and feel happy and content living my life as a single person. Who knows what the future holds though.  

  12. 32

    @Morris #22 your attitude doesn’t surprise me, there are plenty of men out there who feel the same way and they have the right to. I am not interested in settling for just anyone either. I suspect that when you meet the woman who makes you happy, is easy going you won’t long for your single days and will marry her.  
    What I do find puzzling is that a few men are said they believe marriage to be a drain on their financial resources. I guess I don’t understand why. Most states have no-fault divorce and unless your wife has completely quit her job to raise kids, alimony isn’t really a factor. So I would suggest if you are afraid of this situation that you probably don’t want a woman who needs to be financially dependent on you and look, there are plenty of women out there to compliment your finances. Also if you are afraid of divorcing a woman you probably shouldn’t marry her.

  13. 33
    Peter 61/37

    We seem to have 2 Peters. Let me be 61.

  14. 34

    @Michelle #24 – Nobody is saying get married at 19-21.   Where did you get that?   But I WAS a different person in my late twenties and early thirties.   And yes I thought I wanted to get married early.   That’s what we are conditioned to do.   Go to college.   Work your way up the latter.   Get married.   Start a family.
    What you aren’t realizing is that since that DIDN’T happen.   I’ve experience a lot of life on my own.   Traveling, meeting wonderful people are example of good things.   Seeing what happens to my male friends after a divorce would be an example of bad things.   Maybe even getting set in my ways along the way.   So it will take an extraordinary woman to make me want to settle.   Impressing young naive me wouldn’t have been that hard.   Experienced me ISN’T that easy to impress.   You would need to bring a heck of a lot to the table.   Still looking for her.
    @Sara #25 – Interesting.   I agree that it’s the package.
    @Rose #28 – I think you read things in what I wrote that are simply not true.(A problem of condensing years of dating in a few paragraphs.)   I don’t have casual relationships.   I date for a few weeks.(No sex.)   Pick a woman I feel the most with.   And enter a relationship.   I’ve been in maybe 6-7 of these in the last 5 years.   And after a period of time.   Sometimes 6 months sometimes a year.   If I am not feeling that this is the person.   I call it off.   I don’t want to waste my time or her time.   It wouldn’t be fair to either of us.   Now maybe that is ‘casual’   sex/dating to some.   But it doesn’t feel that way on my end.   The reference to ‘honeymoon period over and over’ is that I am stating a fact.   Since I am NOT married I have enjoyed the honeymoon phase over and over again.   Doesn’t anyone that isn’t married that dates have the same experience?   And it was in reference to the bogus claim that married people have more sex.
    Since I’ve addressed that.   I don’t feel like addressing some of your other comments based on that assumption.
    Why can’t a man adopt?   If I can’t find THE ONE am I suppose to not have a family?   Do you apply this rule to women as well?   Because I know women who have babies just because they didn’t meet the right person in time.   At least I would be adopting a child that needs a home.   And the nanny/maid comes in to play because I can afford one.   It allows me to make a decision about starting a family without having to find a woman for the sake of needing someone to help raise a child.   Would it be nice?   Yes.   Do I need one.   Nope.   I have great family and friends.   I think I have more than physical needs covered.
    @Ruby #30 – It’s getting tiring replying to women who read what they want.   Maybe you are projecting or something.   Again.   I don’t have casual relationships.   I didn’t say I can just replace a mother with a nanny/maid.   That was in direct response to someone saying men would save money by having a partner to raise a child.   And in my case I’m saying that’s not true.   If I adopt it would be cheaper to have a nanny/maid.   Why are you getting so defensive with what I feel it true for ME and ME alone?   If it doesn’t apply to you ignore it.   I’m successful.   This site is suppose to be successful woman looking for successful men.   From a successful mans point of view.   Since my partners income means absolutely NOTHING.   I end up dating women who don’t make near as much.   As so it would cost me A LOT to continue my lifestyle and pay for her.   Get it?
    @Julia #32 – I agree.   If I meet the right person I won’t long for these days.   It’s just I haven’t and along the way I’ve noticed things are improving.   That seems to have irked a few women.

  15. 35

    I get what you are sating Morris.
    Re children. Lile I said Children need more than there physical needs met they need healthy emotional strong bonds and healthy attachments in order to thrive. As do women. This doesn’t appear to have happened with any of the women you have dated. Otherwise you would have bonded and been healthily attached and married by now. And I didn’t hear you saying that family members or friends were going to be helping you What you said was a maid and a nanny. Implying that this would meet a childs needs.
    People who want to adopt are screened carefully. They want these children to form healthy, secure loving emotional bonds and attachments. 6 0r 7 realtionships that are only lasting up to a year is not a good indicator that you are able to bond and form a healthy bond or attachement. Would the best enviroment to bring an adopted child into be with a single man who had no history of forming a deep emotionally conected and bonded relationship with? Or with a couple who were married and were in a emotionally   bonded attached relationship? Who do you think they would choose?
    Having a good job and nice home being able to provide is not enough.
    Also most children up for fostering and   adpotion come from abusive backgrounds with loads of issues. Not many babies anymore due to abortion.
    Is always an option to try and see if you can get through the screening process for adoption though if you want to try..

  16. 36

    @Rose #36 – I won’t address your thoughts on my relationships or ability to bond by expanding on it.   It’s impossible for you to make that call without truly getting to know me.   And even if you did we might not see eye to eye.   People are different and perceive relationships differently.   Not that you are wrong or that I’m right.   People are different and there doesn’t necessary have to be a ‘correct’ way to experience a relationship or bonding.
    As for adopting.   I’m not there yet and I don’t take it lightly.   If I didn’t understand the enormous responsibilities that would come with adopting I would have done it a while ago.   But if that time comes I will not be adopting from the US.   It’s a sad state of affairs when the hurtles needed to adopt here are ridiculously high.   I’ve had friends that have tried and I have no intentions of going through that process.(I’ve read articles on how the system is changing and becoming easier/transparent but I’ll believe that when I start hearing that from people I know.)
    I still believe a family is best with both parents in the picture.   But as men we have been hearing for years about women not needing men.   Well, turns out men don’t really need women as well.   It’s bound to ruffle a few feathers hearing that.(Not necessary you.)

  17. 37
    Tom T

    EMK33: I wonder how the NY Times explains the US Census figures that say that about 50% of adults are single. Wanting it obviously isn’t the same thing as doing it.  Those marriage studies are always so bogus.   

    1. 37.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Tom T – Why don’t you read the article instead of refuting it because it doesn’t agree with your worldview. 50% of adults ARE single. MOST of them want to get married.

  18. 38

    Paula 16
    As Karl R says, BOTH men and women get sex, partnership and reduced expenses.
    And as for being a maid, I would imagine only if a woman consents to this role.   I certainly wouldn’t, nor would I marry someone who expected this of me.   A woman is not powerless here.   Surely it’s up to her to negotiate household chores with her man if she doesn’t want to do all of them? I would hazard a guess that in most partnerships, both partners contribute in this area.   Yes, women may be more likely to do the cooking and laundry and dishes, but I reckon men are more likely to mow the lawn, take out the garbage and set up the technology and appliances.
    I don’t know, I don’t see that a man can *force* me to do all the household work.   If I really didn’t want to, I would just let it accumulate, and I’m assuming he would eventually make a plan when he ran out of clean socks to wear!

  19. 39

    Evan @39
    ”  50% of adults ARE single. MOST of them want to get married.”
    Tom T @38
    “Wanting it obviously isn’t the same thing as doing it”
    I have to agree with Tom T on this one. Most people want a good physique. But they don’t go to the gym.
    Most people want to be healthy. But they eat fast food and follow a low nutritious diet.
    Most people want to be self employed millionaires. But they don’t risk their own capital and get educated on providing a product a service that is in demand.
      Which begs the question- How badly do people want a good physique, good health, good income, good spouse when they don’t do the things to get them there? The answer is that they really don’t want those things bad enough to do what it takes. But if you ask them in a poll, of course they will say they want to be married because it is politically correct to say so. But their actions do not match up with what they say.
    Evan I know you are a devout Democrat and the NY Times is the bible of that political leaning. But sometimes it does pay to question them. Any publication that presents polls is definitely suspect. People say what they think should be said. I bet if you asked anyone over 45 who has never been married if they want to be married and they will say yes. Except they leave out the part that states their spouse  must have 245 checklist items in order for them to settle down. But yeah, they want to be married.

  20. 40
    Karl R

    Paula said: (#21)
    “women do benefit from marriage but my point is men benefit far more then women so you would have to be stupid to not be married if you were a man.”
    Men would be stupid not to get married? Really?
    Studies show that bad marriages are detrimental to everyone involved. So are divorces. Staying single is better (in terms of health, happiness and financial well-being) than either of those.
    Unless you have a reasonably high certainty that you’ll have a long, happy marriage, getting married is the  riskier move.
    Clare said: (#40)
    “And as for being a maid, I would imagine only if a woman consents to this role.   I certainly wouldn’t, nor would I marry someone who expected this of me.   A woman is not powerless here.”
    A lot of times, this is about control instead of power … and the person doing the chore is the one is the one exerting the control.
    For example, my wife is very particular about which washing machine settings are used for the laundry. For her clothes, this makes sense. They often have very specific instructions for how to wash/clean them. I don’t buy clothes that are time-consuming to wash. My laundry is easy.
    However, my wife is equally particular about which washing machine settings are used even if I’m washing a load of my own clothes. If she sees me start a load of laundry, she has several “corrections” to make so it’s done right.
    As a bachelor, I washed my own clothes for 20 years. During that time, I ruined  one shirt (shrinking it) during the first 2 years. I have a long track record of doing the laundry without problems. Despite this, her way is right and mine is wrong. That’s about control. (I’m just as opinionated about the dishes as my wife is about the laundry, so this goes both ways.) The easiest way to resolve this without conflict is for her to do all the laundry (and for me to do all the dishes).
    Regardless of whether you’re a man or a woman, if you feel your spouse isn’t doing their fair share of the chores, take a look at the dynamic involving that chore. If you criticized the way they did it until they stopped doing it, then that problem stems from your desire to exert control. You can either decide that you’re happy doing that chore, or you can decide to be happy with the way they do it.

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