The State of Our Unions: Is Marriage in Trouble?
By America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts.
In Middle America, marriage is in trouble! So say W. Bradford Wilcox of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia and Elizabeth Marquardt of the Center for Marriage and Families Institute for American Values in New York City.
Their just released report entitled, When Marriage Disappears: The New Middle America (The State of Our Unions, Marriage in America 2010) is cause for concern when it comes to the future of marriage in America. Their full report is available at
These are the five major conclusions they draw from their study of thousands of folks:
1. Marriage is an emerging dividing line between America’s moderately educated middle and those with college degrees.
2. Marital quality is declining for the moderately educated middle but not for their highly educated peers.
3. Divorce rates are up for moderately educated Americans, relative to those who are highly educated.
4. The moderately educated middle is dramatically more likely than highly educated Americans to have children outside of marriage.
5. The children of highly educated parents are now more likely than in the recent past to be living with their mother and father, while children with moderately educated parents are far less likely to be living with their mother and father.
The most stunning summary statement of their report reads as follows:
So the United States is increasingly a separate and unequal nation when it comes to the institution of marriage. Marriage is in danger of becoming a luxury good attainable only to those with the material and cultural means to grab hold of it. The marginalization of marriage in Middle America is especially worrisome, because this institution has long served the American experiment in democracy as an engine of the American Dream, a seedbed of virtue for children, and one of the few sources of social solidarity in a nation that otherwise prizes individual liberty.
It probably goes without saying – to marriage researchers like us who have studied successful marriages around the world, including 45 countries on six of the world’s seven continents over the past three decades (Antarctica, the 7th and final continent in January 2012!), the results of this comprehensive study give us much pause for concern. In many ways, the results of Wilcox and Marquardt are distressing. Here’s why.
Just imagine – the most fundamental and central component of American society – the glue of our socialization process for the total of American history (and for the history of much of the world for that matter) – has been marriage. There has been no more important glue for the social structure of America than marriage. Any threat to the sanctity or importance of marriage between two people puts our society at risk.
Think about it – marriage amongst the vast American Middle Class is in decline. It is in decline for a variety of reasons. But in the end, we believe that there is great danger for the Republic when people in love choose to stay single and not make the commitment of love so prevalent in our history as a nation.
As is nearly always the case, those who are college educated have a significantly lower divorce rate than those who don’t, have fewer children born out of wedlock, are more happily and successfully married, and have children more likely to be living with them.
As the authors of When Marriage Disappears tell us, marriage works much better for those who are college educated than those who are not. The message here is clear. Don’t be deluded into thinking that education doesn’t matter when it comes to happiness and successful marriage. Don’t be fooled into thinking that the great social traditions of America will continue without marriage.
Marriage between two people who love each other has been an enduring element in the success of America from the beginning of our great country. But the truth is, our future is in danger if the declines in marriage among America’s Middle Class continue.
Education is always the answer. Make no mistake about that. If America is to endure we must provide educational opportunity for all. And the success of marriage is education-related. Think about it!
We have researched and written about successful marriage around the world for nearly three decades. We have learned what makes marriage work. The results of our research are clear – successful marriages have common and pervasive characteristics, and they can be modeled!
Our hope is that the vast middle class of America will learn the lessons of successful marriage. Successful marriage is simple to understand. Yet, so many involved in the ultimate union of two people do not do the simple things required to make their marriage work. In the end, a successful union between two human beings in love is an accumulation of having done the simple things.
We would encourage our readers to read When Marriage Disappears: The New Middle America. Learn the lessons this report provides. The future of our Union may depend on it.
Simple Things Matter in love and marriage. Love well!
By Dr. Charles D. Schmitz and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz
**For hundreds of practical tips to strengthen your love, read the best-selling and multiple-award winning book Building a Love that Lasts: The Seven Surprising Secrets of Successful Marriage (Jossey-Bass/Wiley 2010) Available wherever books are sold. Learn more about America’s #1 Love and
Building a Love that Lasts:
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