Factors contributing to the marriage crisis

We are facing a global crisis in marriage.

The factors contributing to the crisis are complex.

They span generations and virtually every human institution: families, peer groups, schools, churches, work environments, law, and culture.

As scholars and marriage advocates from around the world consider new initiatives to strengthen marriages and families, it may be helpful to remind ourselves of the sources of this crisis—why it has emerged and how it has been sustained.

The Nature and Causes of the Marriage Crisis

The US marriage rate is currently the lowest ever recorded, cohabitation is rapidly becoming both a precursor and alternative to marriage among young adults, and more than half of births to women under thirty years of age now occur outside of marriage.

Among those over age thirty-five, divorce rates continue to rise, even as an increasing number of divorcees choose cohabitation over remarriage.

No longer are abuse and infidelity the main reasons given for divorce (although some research suggests infidelity occurs around the time of most divorces).

Rather, divorcing spouses routinely claim they have simply “grown apart.”

Explaining how an institution like marriage—as old as civilization itself and revered by virtually all societies and religions—reached such a state of decay in the West is not a simple task, but certain sociological trends are undeniably significant.

For example, studies show that religious faith—an important component of happy, permanent marriages for women in particular—is in rapid decline.

A 2012 Pew survey found that “One-fifth of the U.S. public—and a third of adults under 30—are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling.”

This finding is of particular concern in light of recent data showing narcissism on the rise and empathy indecline among younger generations. Continue reading


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