Nov 20, 2010 8:04 PM by Matt Stafford

Marriage on the decline

"I do" is becoming "I don't want to."

New numbers from the Pew Research Center show a decline in marriage. They say about half of American adults are married, but in 1960 that number was closer to three-fourths; and views of the family are changing too.

"Americans still believe in the centrality of family, even as the arrangements of family life today have changes so dramatically," explains D'Vera Cohn, a senior writer for the Pew Research Center.

The Pew study says 86 percent of those polled view a single parent and a child as a family, 80 percent say the same about an unmarried couple with a child, and 63 percent say a homosexual couple with a child is a family; regardless if they are married or not.

So the study shows an increased acceptance of non-traditional families, but as for conventional marriages, the Colorado Springs-based family ministry, Focus on the Family, says the numbers need a deeper look. They see some factors playing into the results -- like the latest census numbers showing people waiting longer to get married.

"Where it (average age of marriage) used to be 22, I think now it's approaching 27, 28," Explains Jim Daly, president and C.E.O. of Focus on the Family. "I think that's a lot of pressure, people want to complete college, they want to do other things professionally."

Also, Daly says it may have to do with what our young adults have for examples.

"They look at the institution of marriage, many of their moms and dads have divorced, remarried, and I think they're apprehensive about it," says Daly.

To Daly, the popularity of marriage goes in cycles; so while it may be declining now, he says that could change.

"In a couple of years we might do this study again and find out that people are getting married at alarming rates," Daly says.

That would be a break from Pew's data, but that's not to say it won't happen. As they show, even some of the basic foundations of our society are open to change.

One thing that hasn't changed is the importance of family. Of those polled, nearly three-fourths said their family was the most important part of their life.

To read the Pew findings for yourself, click here.

For more on Focus on the Family, click here.


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