There was a time when marriage was considered to be an integral part of society, and something which was the ultimate stamp of conviction and commitment for any relationship. However, as social conventions have changed, so too have the prevailing attitudes towards marriage and marital values. It is no longer seen as a necessary assertion of a relationships value, and in fact appears as something of increasing irrelevance to most young couples commencing a union.
Although many theories have been advanced for this, there is a common understanding that women in particular are deciding to devote more of their time and effort into cultivating a career. This ensures that concepts such as marriage and raising a family are deferred, or in some instances neglected entirely in favor of more financially prosperous pursuits. While this is supported by certain information and statistics, it is also countered by others that suggest that the true issues lie with the concept of marriage itself rather than its practicalities.
Not an Issue of Pursuing a Career
In terms of corroborating the idea of marriage becoming less compatible with contemporary culture, the average age of those who marry for the first time has risen considerably in the last 30 years. The average male gets married at the age of 27, which is an increase of 2 years since 1980. Similarly, the average female now enters wedlock when they are 25, a figure which has risen by 3 years within the same time period. This is a clear statistical indicator of men and women choosing to defer marriage until later in life.
Surviving Emotional Infidelity in Relationships
It is estimated that 40 percent of current marriages will end in divorce in the US, especially if the trends displayed throughout 2009 and 2010 continue. This is one of the highest rates documented in the western world, and is surprising given the liberal nature of US union and the resources that exist in terms of guidance and counselling should issues arise. In order to understand the unusually high rate, it is pertinent to assess the most common factors cited in contemporary divorce.
While fidelity is an often discussed and debated reason for marital conflict and separation, this generally refers to the acts of physical infidelity. This is when one or both individuals in a marriage indulge in a physical relationship with a third party, and is suggested to account for over 30 percent of divorces in the US. However, a less known and potentially even more divisive example of this practice exists, and is referred to amongst experts as emotional infidelity.
What is Emotional Infidelity?
Emotional infidelity is where an individual within a relationship forms an emotional attachment to a third party, which is often entirely inappropriate or insensitive to their partners feelings. This concept is a growing issue within contemporary relationships, and its consequences can often be far more damaging than mere physical infidelity, especially in terms of reconciliation. The main reason for this is that its cultivation suggests a deeper relationship between the adulterer and their companion, and one that is far more consequential than a merely physical one.
There is a persistent sense of uncertainty around contemporary existence. From worsening environmental conditions to an array of global conflicts, there appears to be a continual stream of bad news reported through the many media outlets accessible by society. These feelings of anxiety are heightened as western culture continues its tentative steps out of recession, and are entirely at odds with the liberal and technological enhancements that have been designed to assist the overall quality of life.
Of the everyday concerns that trouble US citizens, there are two that can be perceived as threats to the accepted way of life. The most pertinent of these is the consistent and disproportionate growth in the global population, which continues to stretch natural and financial resources. Secondary to this, the high divorce rate and subsequent numbers of individuals who live in isolation is also a concern, especially to those who cherish the relevance of the family unit and affiliated values.
The Social Effects of Contrasting Behavior
Understanding traditional family values, it is interesting that these two particular instances should co-exist simultaneously. With the US population set to reach 311 million by the close of 2011, it would be reasonable to presume that this was a consequence of prosperous marriages and an increased rate of romantic union. Considered as part of a larger trend, this projected increase in population would be in line with the average annual increase of between 250,000 and 300,000, and suggest that there is a steadily growing number of couples and family units within the us.