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Why Is The Marriage Rate So Low?

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Huffington Post Weddings recently headlined the drastic drop in the American marriage rate and discussed many marital issues including the pros and cons of marriage, ages at which marriages occur, economic and other issues.

We feel that one of the most important reasons for the drop in the number of traditional marriages is that the current generation is influenced by the high divorce rate of their parents. Remember: Divorce rates rose dramatically in the 70's, 80's and continue to remain high. As a result, the children of these past generations may be leery of the very thought of marriage. Often, they did not grow up in a stable and conflict free family. On the contrary, many children from these generations "learned" that marriage is trouble, that it resulted in battles between mom and dad, and often ended in divorce, with all the emotional and economic stress that followed. They were the victims of breakup of their traditional nuclear families.

Today, 34% of all children are being raised in single parent homes. They may feel abandoned or neglected and suffer from lack of consistent care from one or both parents who are stressed out in their continuing struggle for economic survival. Because of such experience, many of these children may feel it is dangerous to form a committed relationship -- through marriage or otherwise. They may have difficulty committing to a partner, and if they were able to verbalize their feelings they may admit: "I am afraid of becoming too close to others. It is hard to trust them completely. I get anxious when I have to rely or depend on others. I feel like escaping when I am expected to become more intimate than I feel I can."

Twenty or more years will separate such early negative experience from the period of dating, courtship, engagement and marriage. It may be difficult to accept the concept that there is a causal connection between such early childhood events and relationships with a reluctance to commit and marital failure many years later. But such conclusions are well established. It can be considered as an unfortunate and delayed "time bomb" effect that influences current marriage statistics.

Conversely, more fortunate children who have had a positive and loving relationship with their parents are more likely to opt for marriage because early in their lives, better nurturing care "taught" them that it is safe to both trust and to love.

In view of the importance of early life events, anyone contemplating marriage should inquire, during the dating and courtship period, about the early history of the potential partner. Was he or she loved, nurtured, and well cared for? Or did negative events occur such as verbal or physical abuse? After all, marriage involves two persons with completely separate histories, and successful marriage requires that both male and female have the emotional capacity to trust and to give and receive love.

If either of the prospective marriage partners have such negative histories, they may find it advisable to seek professional help and perhaps experience a reparative therapeutic relationship, which will better motivate them either to marry or to form and sustain a successful long-term and committed relationship. Research has shown that in the end, people who opt for marriage tend to have an increased chance of achieving physical, emotional and financial health in their future years. Simply put, a happy marriage generally produces a better and longer life.