New study finds that young people value marriage and hope to marry

From the National Post. (H/T Andrew)


Young adults still tend to view marriage as an important life commitment to which they aspire, results of a new U.S. study suggest.

The findings appear to contradict public and academic anxiety over the state of marriage, and surprised even the researchers.

“What was so striking about what the young people said is that no one really described rejecting marriage,” said lead author Maria Kefalas, a sociology professor at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. “I had a category all written -marriage rejector -and we couldn’t find any. There was no one who said, ‘Marriage is meaningless and I don’t want to get married.’ ”

The researchers uncovered a divide between rural and urban young adults after examining interviews with 424 people aged 21 to 38 who lived in New York, San Diego and Minneapolis/St. Paul or rural Iowa.

Young adults in small towns and rural areas -dubbed “marriage naturalists” -generally have a 1950s view toward marriage, they found, seeing it as the inevitable “next step” in a long-term relationship.

“It was like a time capsule,” Ms. Kefalas said. “Marriage was expected. It wasn’t fretted about, there was very little hand-wringing about it. A lot of the pressure for marriage was external in terms of social expectation that that’s what you do.”

In contrast, urban young adults -dubbed “marriage planners” by the researchers -had high standards for potential marriage partners and a strong sense that marriage was something they had to be “ready for.”

[…]Ms. Kefalas said she believes declining marriage rates in Canada and the United States are due to a shifting economic landscape that makes it more difficult for young adults in the Millennial cohort born in the 1980s and 1990s to get the education, career, housing and general stability they feel they need before saying “I do” -not a lack of interest in the institution itself.

“One of the great myths has been that young people, in particular millennials, are saying, ‘We don’t want to get mar-ried and marriage is irrelevant to us,’ and that’s not true,” Ms. Kefalas said.

The paper is to be published in the Journal of Family Issues.

I think the problem I see, and this is something for Christians to research, and for churches to get serious about – is that we need to help young people to translate these aspirations to marry into a solid plan for how to get married well. That means telling them how to prepare themselves to be married, how to find and evaluate another person for marriage, and how to court another person in a way that will result in a stable, loving marriage. Young people need to understand things that social scientists know – like the fact that chastity is good for marital stability, and that cohabitation is bad for marital stability. We need to study these factors and then inform the young people in winsome ways.


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