SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

May 27, 2011

Married now a Minority

Married couples now in minority in U.S.

Traditional models of households don’t apply, study finds

By Sabrina Tavernise THE NEW YORK TIMES

WASHINGTON — Married couples have dropped below half of all U.S. households for the first time, the Census Bureau says, a milestone in the evolution of the American family toward less-traditional forms.    Married couples represented only 48 percent of U.S. households in 2010, according to data being made public today and analyzed by the Brookings Institution. This was slightly less than in 2000, but far below the 78 percent of households occupied by married couples in 1950.

What is more, only a fifth of households were traditional families — married couples with children — down from about a quarter a decade ago, and from 43 percent in 1950, as the iconic image of the American family continues to break apart.

  • In recent history, the marriage rate among Americans was at its highest in the 1950s, when the institution defined gender roles, family life and a person’s place in society. But as women moved into the work force, cohabitation lost its taboo, and as society grew more secular, marriage lost some of its central authority.

“The days of Ozzie and Harriett have faded into the past,” said William Frey, the senior demographer at Brookings who analyzed the data. (The proportion of married couples slipped below half over the past decade, but was first reported as a precise count by the 2010 census).

Today, traditional patterns have been turned upside down. Women with college degrees now are more likely to marry than those with only high-school diplomas, the reverse of several decades ago, said June Carbone, a law professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and co-author of Red Families v. Blue Families.

Rising income inequality has also divided U.S. society, making college-educated people less likely to marry those without college degrees. That educated group has struck a new path: They marry later but stay married. In contrast, women with only a high-school diploma increasingly are opting not to marry the fathers of their children.

Households are changing in other ways. Americans are living longer than ever, so households now include a growing number of elderly singles, said Andrew J. Cherlin, a demographer at Johns Hopkins University. Other factors have been the large influx of immigrants, who tend to be single people in their 20s and 30s, and the growing number of young people who live together without being married.

(Even tho this post saddens me, I wanted to share it with you.  This article tho tiny and brief, packs a very big wallop! It is evident that much is different now from when I married.   Young ladies then were influenced to want to marry and raise a family.  It’s the way things were.   I still believe that nothing is more rewarding than that pursuit providing each party  is able to flourish, develop potential and not merely function out of “duty” to a role.  That can’t happen without respect, love and mutual purpose.  Commitment was important then which greatly enabled people to get through rough times, trials and  indiscretions, etc.   Sadly, it seems in  short supply today.  This is sad as it bespeaks a flaw in character development which may reflect in the inability to love fully through the act of giving of oneself.

What do I know. . . my mother was married 6 times.  She was amazingly beautiful, a certified genius, highly creative, could do anything.  A strong woman.  They say the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.  I guess we were dis-functional, but there was love – always.  I’m just  suggesting that the typical marriage thing wasn’t something I had seen a lot of if at all.  Yet when I married,  in my heart I knew it was a forever thing.  But that’s a whole other story [maybe for another time] and way off track. Because it wasn’t, and I divorced Marty on our 25th anniversary.  There are some things that some women simply can’t share.

Since the 70’s, I felt that people should not stay in bad marriages.  It serves no purpose and is generally unhealthy.  Where is the good if two people are making one another miserable, stressed or sad?  One or both have strayed from their original intention and promise.  See, I was happy in marriage – ignorant, but happy. 

In prior generations, one-earner families could exist.  A man could be the “bread-winner” and family could survive.  That is no longer possible for our current society.  So many things have changed.  Gone is the security of a long-term relationship, once called marriage.  Children will always get the dirty end of that stick.  All these breakdowns have not come overnight, its been in the works a long time.    They started making it easier to get divorced.  Bad for marriage – good for people to do and be who they want to be.   Women got the vote, but it took until recently for equality to come about in the marketplace.  We are still grappling with the fairness thing.   Again, bad for marriage/families, but good for those who need or want to achieve something in life. 

For any who can live by the golden rule and allow “love” to hold major sway, life is going to be good, no matter what. We all learned in school, nothing ever stays the same.  Change is a built-in factor.    Jan)

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