Marriage is a Minority Institution

Divorce rates are high. More and more people aren’t getting married in the first place. For the first time in American history, marriage is a minority institution. Of the 307 million people in the United States, married couples are now in charge of less than half of the nation’s households. The rest of the households are composed of single individuals, or unrelated people living together.

This is a groundbreaking and somewhat sad moment in American history. In spite of government initiatives supporting marriage, such as tax breaks and other legal benefits of marriage, more and more households are headed by unmarried individuals. Marriage is now a minority institution. Why and how has this happened?

Divorce makes marriage a tough choice.

With the divorce rate at approximately 50%, more and more people are opting not to get married at all. Divorce can be an expensive prospect, and it’s much more difficult to split up if one must divorce to accomplish this. Divorce can get ugly and unpleasant, and it signals an end to a relationship with incontrovertible finality. Relationships are much easier to dissolve, and more and more people are choosing to go this route when cohabiting.

Economically speaking, marriage may not be as advantageous as it once was.

Getting married was once the key to economic prosperity. Splitting the bills, getting tax benefits and moving into bigger and better living spaces made marriage a highly desirable economic situation. Marriage represented economic security. Unfortunately, marriage today doesn’t necessarily offer the same stability and plenty it once did. With more and more people burdened individually by student loan debts, car loans and other consumer debt, it’s more difficult than it used to be to combine households. The economic reality of today’s society makes marriage a less-obvious choice.

Social stigma against unmarried couples has dissipated.

It used to be that you had to be married to live together. There were no two ways around it. If you were living together and you weren’t married, you’d be shunned by respectable folks and possibly disowned by your parents. Today, it’s considered socially acceptable in many circles for couples to live together without being married. Parents still dream of children’s weddings, but children are in no hurry to rush to the once-inevitable conclusion. In short, things have changed.

As the family unit changes, so does divorce.

Being a divorcee no longer carries the social stigma that it once did, either. Nowadays, with the divorce rate so high, people give each other an understanding smile and commiserate over their troubles when the topic of divorce comes up. If you’re considering a divorce, you’re not alone. The changing face of the family unit makes divorce easier, and there are more and more support groups and resources available to help you cope with divorce. While the changing face of family may be a sad moment for American society, it brings benefits to the newly divorced.