- (Photo: Reuters/Ueslei Marcelino)
A new report by the Pew Research Center claims the number of married American adults plummeted to a record low during the 2009-2010 year.
The study, which was released Wednesday, claims that the age at which Americans first marry has never been higher. It also revealed that there has been a five percent decrease in the number of new marriages between 2009 and 2010, a steep one-year drop that “may or may not be related to the sour economy,” the study reads.
In the United States, marriage has been declining for decades. The number of married adults went from 72 percent in 1960 to 51 percent in recent studies. Many credit the acceptance of single parenthood, cohabitation without marriage, and even the economy for the decline, but Dr. Karen Ruskin, a marriage counselor for over 18 years, has a different theory. In an interview with The Christian Post, Dr. Ruskin listed three reasons for the decline in U.S. marriages: Need, Entitlement, and Stress.
Today, not only are women permitted in the workplace, women are becoming a dominant force on the job. So the need to marry for financial support is no longer necessary for the modern woman. Now, Ruskin says, marriage is viewed by women as more of a “to-do list,” or one more task to accomplish before the day is done.
Also, Ruskin credits the advances in modern science for why women may feel they no longer need men. It is not only accepted in today’s society to be a single parent, it is quite simple to do so.
“Just look at the advances in modern science,” she says, referring to in vitro fertilization. Therefore if the woman feels the man is not absolutely needed, they dispose of them.
For her second reason for the disintegration of the American marriage, Ruskin credits this generation’s “Want what I want when I want it” attitude. She calls this a “me! me! me! generation.”
“Men and women in this generation both feel a spouse should be how they want them to be,” she says.
“And if [you’re] not giving me what I want, why should I stay?” she says a modern spouse may reason.
When both parties aren’t willing to give up what they feel they deserve in the marriage, divorce is usually the next option.
Finally, Ruskin says Americans are plagued with stress, whether in the news, the economy, or in love. If this entitled generation views marriage as just another stress, they are more likely to try to get rid of it.
“Couples no longer come together to combat stress. We’d rather disconnect and use methods of escapism whether it’s alcohol, social media or going to the gym,” Ruskin told The Christian Post, “We have a culture of not relying on one another.”
Ruskin, who has been interviewed on The O’reilly Factor and Boston’s Fox 25 News on mental health issues, says the recent Pew study was only confirmation for her that the lack of marriage in the U.S is an epidemic. She saw the trend in her own sessions, and in a 2011 report by the census bureau which indicated married Americans had declined to 48 percent.
“It is an epidemic. I am very concerned,” she stated.
Ruskin told the Christian Post that although she personally feels a marriage is worth saving, it is not her job as a counselor to make the decisions for her patients, but to guide them in making the appropriate choice for themselves.
When asked how religion could play a role in securing a marriage, Ruskin said it is possible. “Religion, not [necessarily] a religious counselor could keep a marriage afloat.”
She notes that some of her clients complain that religious counselors may not offer “real life” solutions to saving a marriage, instead limiting the couple to adhering solely to religious texts. “Not all, but some,” she adds.
If a couple has the “till death do you part approach to marriage or being a good Christian or whatever you’re religion is, they may be more likely to stay in the marriage.”
Dr. Karen Ruskin is a member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. She has a self published manuscript entitled, “Dr. Karen’s Marriage Manual”. See Drkarenruskin.com for more details.