Monday, January 18, 2010

Why We're Not Getting Married

The lack of commitment in our society is on the rise.  And then we wonder why marriages fail:

The Daily Beast
There is now a huge gray area between dating and marriage—it’s a place where men and women are forming long-term relationships that have many similarities to marriage, yet aren’t quite. It’s the place beyond the point of being just boyfriend and girlfriend, but not married. These are relationships that 50 or 60 years ago would have most likely culminated in marriage, but today are just part of the relationship experimentation that’s endemic to many people’s twenties and thirties.

A look at the numbers bears this out. The median age for a first marriage in the United States is the highest it’s ever been—27.1 for a man and 25.3 for a woman—and it skews even higher in many cities, giving way to more years of dating before marriage. In fact, 23 million adults are in unmarried committed relationships. Over 12 million unmarried partners live together, a trend that is being exhibited in a large part by the 25-to-34-year-old demo.

"Dating is not what it was 50 years ago. Dating is evolving into this gradual process of moving in. It involves nights spent over at one or the other’s place. There’s the toothbrush, then a few items of clothing. All of a sudden, they realize they’ve moved in,” says Pamela Smock, a sociologist at the University of Michigan who studies cohabitation.

“A Little Bit Marrieds” are the ones that write a prenup on a piece of loose-leaf paper as they move in, detailing who paid for the Ikea bureau, who brought the flat-screen TV, whose parents gave them the bed. They don’t share the cost of anything “just in case.” They each have separate shelf units for their books and DVDs. Are they roommates or are they building a life together? Are they husband and wife, girlfriend and boyfriend, or roommates? They may have seen friends go through a whole lifecycle—dating, marriage, and kids—but they still don’t own a couch together. Each thinks the other person is marriage material, but how can they commit when there are un-traveled continents and four more career paths to explore? Everything is great—but what if there is something better out there?

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