Above all things, American marriage is presumably moving through transitional stages towards the obscure future. Andrew Cherlin claims that during the past century American family system has encountered unbelievable changes in marriage and rates of divorce, sexual relations, childbearing and cohabitation. Also, according to Barbara Whitehead, cohabitation being the first experience of coexistence for young people is gradually replacing marriage. In order to verify the aforementioned statement a diligent research should be conducted.
In view of the above, it should be noted that the data gathered by The State of Our Unions may be helpful in the following investigations. The State of Our Unions aims to observe the current health of marriage and family life in the United States. The State of Our Unions should also be apprehended as a joint publication of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia and the Center for Marriage and Families at the Institute for American Values. David Popenoe and Barbara Whitehead being the first publishers of The State of Our Unions accentuate on factors which affect marriage and the institute of family. Moreover, the core thesis derived from the first annual State of Our Report in 1999 should be defined as “What’s Happening to Marriage”.
According to Popenoe and Whitehead, it should be outlined that the institute of marriage is changing in conformity with influences made regarding its components. As far as the couples’ relationship is concerned, it should be supposed that marriages are considered to be more frequently broken by divorce than by death. Also, as to the researchers, marriage is gradually losing its social and ritual significance. Nowadays it is grasped as neither a traditional passage from adolescence to adulthood for youngster nor a sense of his lives. The up-to-date concept of marriage does not embody either intimacy or the final stage of timing concerning the first sexual experience. In addition, it should be added that contemporary marriage has lost its peculiar attributes of the fist binding union of persons living together. Besides, the fact is that modern Americans give preference to partnered as well as unpartnered single lifestyle.
Likewise, it should be conceded that marriage as an institution is now destitute of its legal, religious and social implications. Young people are more and more inclined to substitute the word “marriage” with such general categories as “relationships” and “intimate partners” (Popenoe and Whitehead). Further, some antagonists of marriage express confidence that the support for marriage either augments discrimination against single partners or enhances domestic violence including sexual abuses.
In the context of marriage, Popenoe and Whitehead emphasize that young women being highly optimistic concerning their chances for marital happiness have recently lost their hope. In this connection, their attitude and abilities to attain successful marriage are directed towards various alternatives to marriage including unwed parenthood and cohabitation. According to Popenoe and Whitehead, during a four decade period of unstoppable changes in the institute of marriage no governmental studies have been conducted in order to examine the aforesaid problems and eliminate preconditions to the consequences discussed above.
Being enrooted in complexities of modern life, reluctance to raise children is a recognizable factor which makes impact on the institute of marriage in the US. In accordance with a National Marriage Project’s investigations, it should be admitted that in 2004, almost one out of five women in their forties was childless. In order to compare, it should be stated that in 1976 it was one out of ten. Therefore, a growing number of contemporary women are not having any children today. The factor of children plays a fairly crucial role in respect of stability in marriage. The aforementioned deficiency signifies the tendency when adults are more disposed to work and entertain with adults rather than to take care of children. Apart from the above, the data gathered in the frames of The State of Our Unions illustrate some evident national disunity and family inequality in the field of education and levels of income. In the final analysis, it should be clarified that the children of highly educated parents are now more likely than in the past to be residing with their parents, while children with moderately educated parents are far less likely to live with their parents. Likewise, it should be noticed that the Great Recession has become a factor influencing the institution of marriage as well. The State of Our Unions distinctly elucidates the financial matters which affect marriage such as income, employment, debt, assets, and the division of household labor. The aforementioned elements have the direct nexus with quality and stability inside American marriages. In view of the above, it should be generalized that earning, saving, sharing and spending money constitute fundamental dimensions of contemporary life.
Moreover, it should be emphasized that the researchers predict disappearance of marriage in the future. In conformity with The State of Our Union’s investigations, African Americans and poor communities were hit by the retreat from marriage in 1960s and 1970s. Nevertheless, the aforesaid retreat is expanding towards the middle class now. The pace of such spread is enormously rapid. Adult trends demonstrate that the rate of divorce is growing swiftly now, while the frequency of marital happiness is decreasing hard. In like manner, it should be ascertained that moderately educated Americans are increasingly reorienting towards cohabitation instead of marriage. According to the researchers, “from 1988 to the late 2000s, the percentage of women aged 25-44 who had ever cohabitated rose 29 percentage points from moderately educated Americans” (Popenoe and Whitehead). According to Aviva Patz, the study of 56 participating couples has made noticeable that “loss of initial levels of love and affection, rather than conflict, was the most salient predictor of distress and divorce”.
After everything has been given due consideration, it should be stated that an interview with two married women of 75 and 50 years old is deemed to assist in augmenting the results of the current study. The interview exemplifies relevant questions and appropriate answers of the respondents. The question one is: How many children do you have? The first respondent has answered that she has 4 children. The second respondent has replied that she has a son. The question two is: Have you ever been divorced? Both of the respondents have confessed that they have never been divorced. The question three is: What is your attitude to cohabitation before marriage? The first respondent has replied that cohabitation before marriage is intolerable for her. The second respondent has answered that she starts tolerating cohabitation. The question four is: What according to you are the main causes and effects of success and failure in marriage? Both respondents have answered that love, respect, dedication and forgiveness serve as the core tenets of a successful marriage for them. According to the respondents failures in marriage are caused by unreasonable love affairs, egocentrism and the lack of principles of self-regulation. The question five is: How do you see the things changed? The first respondent has expressed confidence that only ecclesiastical education may feasibly change the things. The second respondent has supposed that American government is obliged to elaborate effective plans of actions directed towards reforming the institutes of housing and social aid for young families.
When all things are considered, it is possible to arrive at the conclusion that the institute of marriage is rapidly degrading due to occurrence of many factors. Furthermore, it should be added that the passiveness and reluctance of American government in respect of the family system will probably catalyze the aforesaid process of degradation.
Cherlin, Andrew. “American Marriage in Transition”.
Patz, Aviva. “Will Your Marriage Last?” 26 Oct. 2011. <http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200001/will-your-marriage-last>
Popenoe, David and Whitehead, D., Barbara. “The State of Our Unions 1999-2010”. 26 Oct. 2011. <http://stateofourunions.org/past_issues.php>