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.
However, affiliated statistics reveal a conflicting trends, and these relate to the average age that females give birth in the US. This has fallen slightly over the last decade, to the extent that women are statistically more likely to give birth to their first child prior to entering into marital union. Subsequently, the concept of individuals and women in particular choosing to prioritise their careers over marriage is disproved, as it is arguable that an infant birth creates even more disruption to single and working life.
Marriage as an Irrelevant Social Convention
If an individuals career is not decisive in deferring or avoiding marriage, then this means that there are more relevant social issues that influence the decision. Perhaps the most intriguing of these is the perception of marriage, which appears to grow increasingly unfavorable with every passing year. Though this is in part due to the financial restraints imposed by the recession and gradual recovery, it also has a great deal to do with the fact that marriage is often seen as a slightly outdated and increasingly irrelevant social convention.
In essence, this means that individuals within the US are perceiving marriage as an act which carries little meaning or value, and is often undertaken purely as act of conformity or due to family pressures. This notion is furthered by the fact that advancements in science and technological evolution continue to outgrow and diminish the voice of religious teachings, which preach marriage and unity as a core fabric of social tapestry. Subsequently, couples are continuing to shun marriage as it does not offer relevant meaning to their relationship.
The Changing Face of Family Values
Though couples are increasingly keen to delay their nuptials or decide to remain single in law, they are still choosing to start their own family unit. This is simply reflective of the changing face of family values, which although are less respectful to marriage, are entirely receptive to child birth and a growing family unit. From this, we can conclude that while marriage is less relevant than it has been in recent eras, this does not mean that couples are without family values or loathe to procreate life and enjoy a close knit unity.
So, rather than bemoaning the fact that more and more individuals are choosing to prioritise family and financial well being ahead of marital union, we should perhaps be appreciating this as merely indicative of the changing social climate. An age where marriage is less relevant or valued is one thing, but it does not mean that a couples love is diminished or their ability to raise children is in anyway impaired. Put simply, we should simply appreciate that marriage does not uphold the same religious and virtuous values as it has previously, and that it is often overlooked as a way to avoid specific hypocrisy.