- The Washington Times - Friday, December 30, 2005

Does postponing marriage increase or decrease one’s chances of a happy and lasting union? Have Hollywood breakups and high divorce rates eroded the public’s esteem for marriage? These are two of the interesting questions the National Fatherhood Initiative examined recently as part of its effort to bring common sense to debates on marriage and the family. The results, announced in November, are no and no. Marrying early is still best. People still honor the marriage ideal, and the “state of the union” in America, though not without problems, appears to be far better than some crisis-mongers suggest.

Young professionals are particularly prone to believing that putting off marriage until one’s career is established or until other personal goals are met is a good idea. But it tends not to be — or, at least, the people who do this tend not to be happy, as NFI’s survey of 1,500 adult Americans suggests. On average, people who put off marriage until their late 20s or early 30s report having more trouble than people who marry in their mid-20s. This is probably owed, as NFI notes, to unrealistically high standards, underdeveloped social skills or being “set in one’s ways.” Other correlates for unhappy marriages are undereducation, lack of religiosity, living together before marriage, marrying before age 20 or a parental divorce prior to the age of 16. It also appears that people in the South and West are on average less happy with their unions.

Have celebrity “I do’s” and undo’s numbed Americans? No. People still hold marriage in very high esteem: 88 percent of the people surveyed think marriage should be forever; 94 percent think the country’s high divorce rate is a serious problem; and 71 percent think poorly of the notion that a husband or wife should be allowed to end a marriage at any time for any reason.

That marriage remains an American ideal means there’s one less culture worry for 2006.



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