What Americans Think About Marriage

Is it out of style or something many people want?
By Julie Baumgardner
September 7, 2017

A January 2017 60 Minutes and Vanity Fair poll asked Americans about their views about marriage, and what they found may surprise you.

In 1960, 78 percent of American households were married. Compare that to 48 percent of today’s households. Why such a dramatic drop?

These days, many factors contribute to a decreasing marriage rate. Some say the stigma of divorce is not what it used to be. More women are working and are more independent. The number of couples living together outside of marriage has increased by more than 1000 percent. And, 40 percent of 18- to 34-year-old Americans are moving back in with their parents.

Despite all of these factors, this poll shows that marriage remains a goal and a dream for many.

For starters, the majority of respondents say the main purpose of marriage is to mark a commitment between two people in love. Nearly 1 in 4 sees it as providing the best environment for raising children. Interestingly, 1 in 5 does not think marriage has much purpose today.

A U.S. Census Bureau study found that only 6 percent of married couples make it to their 50th wedding anniversary. However, more than 90 percent of Americans say it’s an inspiring accomplishment to stay the course together for more than half a century. Those who reach this milestone cite good communication, supporting each other no matter what, having a sense of humor, and loving, respecting and being kind to each other as the keys to their success.

Threats to Marriage?

One out of 4 says jealousy poses the greatest threat to marriage. Other perceived threats are poverty (19 percent), boredom (18 percent), narcissism (15 percent) and the internet (15 percent).

Does being an adult child of divorce make people more likely to work harder at their marriage?

This poll found that 28 percent of Americans think that children of divorce generally work harder on their own marriages than most other people do. And, only 12 percent felt they tended not to work as hard. But get this – a full 52 percent from every walk of life felt that being a child of divorce makes no real difference when it comes to working on your marriage.

We’ve all heard that sex sells. But only 17 percent of those surveyed say they would be more entertained by an affair than by a beautiful love story that ends in marriage.

When it comes to monogamy, 2 out of 3 Americans feel that monogamous relationships are still essential for most of today’s romantic relationships. However, 1 out of 4 believes that monogamy is not realistic.

If you’re considering marriage, respondents definitely have some advice.

Their top three items on the list are to:

  • Make sure you are compatible,
  • Communicate, listen well and be committed to your marriage, and
  • Don’t give up.

Other suggestions are to:

  • Be honest and truthful,
  • Make sure you are ready for marriage,
  • Trust and support each other,
  • Work out your issues,
  • Show your love,
  • Work hard at it,
  • Hope for good luck.

Even though many believe marriage is out of style, it’s interesting to see how many Americans still hope to marry and want to do married well.

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