Does Marriage Matter?

shutterstock_71030278-resizeStanding at the altar with her groom by her side and three “possible” dads behind her, Sophie halts her wedding ceremony, saying, “Now I know what I really want. Sky, let’s just not get married yet.”

Sky: “What?”

Sophie: “You never wanted this anyway. I know that. Let’s just get off this island and see the world. All right?”

Sky: “I love you.”

That’s the climax of the wedding movie, “Mama Mia.” To a Boomer, this makes no sense. It’s a millennial thing. Many just don’t see the need for marriage.

The numbers are in

From a report earlier this year, Pew Research revealed the following percentages of people who married between 18 and 32 years of age:
Millennials (2013) 26%
Gen X (1997) 36%
Boomer (1980) 48%
Silent (1960) 65%
Over two thirds of millennials polled said they want to marry, but they believe it is important to start with a solid economic foundation.

30% unmarried is the trend

In another 2014 study, the Urban Institute projected the number of millennial women who will be unmarried by the time they are 40 will be 30%, as compared to 9% of early Boomers, 13% of late Boomers and 18% of Gen Xers.

Other trends noted in this survey are:

1. Millennials have a greater propensity to live with their parents.

2. Racial and ethnic minorities have greater declines in marriage rates.

3. College-educated millennials do not show much difference than the previous generations.

4. Greater singleness will lead to greater demands on social services for this generation.

5. Because studies have shown that marriage increases wealth, the decrease in marriage will lead to less spending, further delaying the economic recovery.

Does Marriage Matter?

The Center for Marriage and Families published a summary of thirty reasons “Why Marriage Matters,” which includes the following factors:

Family — Children are less likely to thrive in a complex household. Marriage fosters high-quality relationships.

Economy — Unmarried childbearing increases poverty. Marrieds build more wealth than cohabitating couples.

Physical Health and Longevity — Children who live with their own two married parents enjoy better physical health. Parental marriage is associated with a sharply lower risk of infant mortality and lower rates of alcohol and substance abuse for both adults and teens. Marrieds have longer life expectancies and lower rates of injury, illness and disability.

Mental Health and Emotional Well-being — Cohabitation is associated with higher levels of psychological problems among children. Married mothers have lower rates of depression.
Crime and Violence — Marriage reduces the risk that adults will be either perpetrators or victims of crimes. Married women experience less domestic violence than do cohabitating or dating women. A child who is not with his or her own two married parents is at greater risk of child abuse.

Sliding vs. deciding

Understanding that most millennials eventually want to marry and that 90 percent have had premarital sexual relationships, leads us to question how their premarital behavior affects their eventual marriages.

Dr. Scott Stanley of the University of Denver has been studying the impact of making commitments versus going through relationship transitions without commitment. He calls it “Sliding vs. Deciding.” He and Glaena Rhoades recently completed a study for the National Marriage Project, which shows higher marital quality for couples who:

• Only had sexual relationships with each other before marriage

• Made intentional decisions to advance through relational transitions as opposed to sliding through them

• Did not start their relationships by “hooking up”

• Did not have children before marriage (even with each other)

• Had more wedding guests

Bucking the pattern

None of this data should surprise us. When you operate machinery according to the owner’s manual, it always runs better. The Bible is God’s ownership manual for us. His plan for our relationships is clearly laid out. “God created human beings in his own image … male and female he created them. Then God blessed them and said, ‘Be fruitful and multiply’ ” (Genesis 1:27-28).

God created us as relational beings. “Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.’ ” (Genesis 2:18) “This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one” (Genesis 2:24).

God even programmed His plan for commitment and monogamy into our DNA. Neurochemicals act in concert for bonding to take place. Like adhesive tape, only the first application holds well. Removal causes pain and damage. The ability to bond declines with each subsequent application. Hooking up reduces our ability to form proper bonds in marriage.

Whose plan will you follow?

Satan is whispering to this generation, “Surely God wants you to be happy and self-fulfilled. Live together. Test the waters first. What can it hurt?”

God says, “For I know the plans I have for you … They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).

Patricia Hartman is a CPA/partner at Kofsky, Hartman & Weinger, PA (www.khwcpa.com) and author of “The Christian Prenuptial Agreement: The Power of Marriage Unleashed” available at www.ChristianPrenuptial.com. Twitter @CPrenuptial.

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