PEW Research Reports Married Couples at Record Low

This marriage therapist and relationship expert for 18 years has the answer as to why married couples are at a record low and it is not the easy answer often heard in the media. According to a new PEW Research Center analysis of the U.S. Census data reported in the news today married couples are at a record low. Specifically, new marriages are down 5% from 2009 to 2010, barely half of U.S. adults are married reporting today 51% are married whereas in 1960 72% of all adults ages 18 and older were married, and the median age at first marriage has never been higher for brides (26.5 years) and grooms (28.7). This study admittedly reports it is “beyond the scope” of their analysis as to why marriage has declined. I, as a marriage therapist DO have the answer to why marriage has declined. Is the economy to blame? Is co-habitation to blame therefore not being married has become more acceptable? No and no. Far too many report these as the reason and it is not as simple as that.

In today’s blog I will share 3 of the top reasons as to why marriage has declined. In my recently released book; Dr. Karen’s Marriage Manual, I address when the U.S. Census Bureau first came out with the 2011 statistics. In this cutting edge book for this generation of couples from young to old, newly married to long term marrieds, I provide concrete techniques and doable strategies for a lasting healthy marriage. This book is now available for an autographed copy. If you wish to learn more about Dr. Karen’s Marriage Manual or purchase it to learn these proven methods; click here.

The 3 top reasons as to why marriage has declined from this marriage therapist/relationship expert’s point of view is ‘NMS’ – 1) Need, 2) Me-Me Culture, 3) Stress:

  • Women and men do not NEED each other.

Explanation: Women don’t NEED men, they see them more as a “to do” on their chore list. A few factors include; women have job independence/ability/financial independence, women can have children due to modern science without a man, the female sexual revolution, and more . . . Men don’t NEED women because women are not providing them with what they want/expect when married. The traditional role of women, e.g., cooking, cleaning, laundry, available emotionally when the man comes home from work to hear about his day, sexual “obligations” (now that’s a blog topic for another day), and more . . . has become the norm for men not to have their expectations met in their marriage. What does a woman need a man for and a man need a woman for if they do not “get out of marriage” what used to be significant components of what one did experience in marriage, and expect from a marriage, generations before us? This leads men and women alike to ask themselves; why get married? And if my spouse is not “making me happy” why stay married?

  • We are an; a) impulsive, b) “me me”, c) entitled culture of; I want what I want when I want it and deserve and need to have “it” (whatever the “it” is that one feels one’s spouse is not fulfilling and what one wants, whether it is sexual needs, emotional needs, etc.) .

Explanation: When a man or woman feels their spouse does not meet up to their needs, their expectations of what they deserve, want, should have, entitled to have, the mentality based on upbringing of many in this generation is; I can have it all and I will have it all and I don’t have to work hard to get it (entitlement),  anything short of that is not enough. So, rather than working on the marriage, putting in daily effort by me, yes me, watering the plant of marriage each day- rather, the plant goes dry and the blame is on my spouse- what my spouse should be doing for ME is how many view marriage- rather than taking ownership of one’s own role in the marriage and viewing marriage as; what can I do for my spouse and for the marriage. This mentality, this cultural upbringing leads many to feel if they do not find exactly what they are looking for; why marry, and if already married and this person is not meeting my needs over time; why stay married.

  • We are living in a culture with marked stress and are lacking individual healthy coping, adjusting, and confronting skills and couple team-ship skills.

Explanation: The pattern these days more typically rather than couples coming together as a team in times of stress to combat life’s challenges, rather is that couples fight one another/combat one another in times of stress and/or disconnect from one another. The most common coping skill is the use of escapism as the way to not handle the problem instead of confronting the problem head on and looking inward. Adjustment skills is practically a foreign language with rather escapism as the method of choice which comes in many forms (e.g., the use of technology and connect with others outside of the marriage, work, gym, affairs, drugs- prescription and illegal, alcohol) which leads to further disconnection to where being married then becomes an added stress instead of a relief. This escapism leads to further couple arguments to where whatever the stresses were are still there and along with fighting one another instead of feeling like you have a team mate, rather the couple further declines which leads both to feel and experience marriage as stressful. So, why stay married asks many when marriage serves less as an input into one’s mental well being and rather marriage is experienced more a taking away of one’s emotional energy? If marriage is viewed as a stress, one chooses to not add on nor keep what is stressful and thus marriage becomes the thrown away stress.

So then, one may wonder and many do ask; why do people want to marry in modern times?

Certainly there are those who exist where the 3 reasons above (NMS) the couple does experience peace with. Specifically it is those couples who DO need their spouse in the traditional ways, they are not driven by a me-me mentality, and the couple does come together as a team when under stress. This blog focuses on why there is a decline. For those of who ‘NMS’ is solid and for those who ‘NMS’ is applicable reigns, we are of a culture where the majority expects more.

What many expect from marriage, why many do wish to marry is more simple in answer then you may think, but hard for many to implement and that is; to have a companion through life (note: not just any companion). In a culture that has transformed through the years where ‘NMS’ reigns, I will now share with you that the NEED for marriage, what one (ME-ME) hopes and expects out of marriage, and looks for so as to certainly not add STRESS has transformed for many to simply, or not so simply be; a companion to be with throughout time and thus marry who is a person who fits the following 4 bullet points in criteria:

  • Supportive emotionally of who they were, are, and who they hope and strive to be.
  • Plays a significant role in promoting their personal and individual fulfillment and growth.
  • Fulfills their overall desire to be happy and believes and expects their marriage will help to make them happy.
  • Makes them feel special, valued, wanted, appreciated, and loved.

Many grow up in love with love, the idea of love– and then smash marriage is effort! The decline of marriages is a serious epidemic, marriage may potentially become obsolete. I believe we are in a marital relationship revolution re-evaluating and re-defining what marriage is defined as and what our expectations are and can be. Until we confront the 4 criteria bullet points listed above, the 3 points (NMS), make an active effort each day to pay attention to one’s marriage, implement my 40 ways to have a lasting marriage, stop living the most common marital errors I refer to in  my book as the 29 marital don’ts, and incorporate my 5 proven techniques to thrive in one’s marriage, this decline will continue. Dr. Karen’s Marriage Manual may be purchased directly through this website for fast delivery.


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