Here’s a survey from Gallup on some statistics about marriage. There’s quite a bit on this list to think about, and it is particularly helpful in showing the changes in attitudes/beliefs over time.
What I’d like to focus on here are two prompts further down the list in the survey. There’s some tension in the responses that deserve our attention.
Here’s the first: “When a man and woman plan to spend the rest of their lives together as a couple, how important is it to you that they legally marry -- very important, somewhat important, not too important or not important at all?”
The most recent data (May 2020) was:
Very Important = 38%
Somewhat Important = 26%
Not Too Important = 15%
Not at All Important = 21%
OK, and then the second (of those who’ve never been married): “Would you like to get married someday, or not?”
The May 2020 data again said:
Yes = 81%
No = 19%
Perhaps we’d want to know how the first prompt’s responses were weighted among the married and unmarried respondents - do married or unmarried respondents take up a larger bulk of the “very important” answer or is it split? Or maybe the “to you” is skewing some of the data toward the negative end.
But, I think it is still interesting that 4 out of 5 people who have never been married would like to be, yet there is a split decision about how important it is.
What explains that?
What gives rise to the high desire to be married (which has gone up since 2013!) by those who never have been?
Interestingly, about 4 out of 5 respondents said polygamy, having more than one spouse, was morally wrong. Monogamy, having just one spouse, is deemed to be morally better.
I’m no expert on the sociology, psychology, and evolutionary biology one might want to consult to sort out a thorough explanation of these things, but I’d like to offer my two cents here.
One caution I’d offer is to not jump to the conclusion that marriage is really just an outdated idea, fit perhaps for previous times, but no longer necessary or desirable in the twenty-first century. After all, it’s just a social construct drilled into us by the Disney princesses being swept off their feet by the prince to live happily ever after, or even more cynical of a take, the wedding industry. We could easily dispense with it.
Do we really think this is the case? Could it be that there is something deeper going on with the human experience that leads us to voluntarily, regardless of social or corporate pressure, opt-in to this kind of relationship?
In this week’s episode, we talk all about why we have both chosen to marry our wives, rather than some other arrangement, as well as what the potential benefits are and what the sacrifices/costs are. There’s so much to say on this topic, but we hope you find the brief conversation helpful in thinking through your own decisions, past or present.