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How Important is Marriage… Really?

An expert examines the importance of marriage in modern relationships…

Originally published on Jet Magazine

There has been an interesting trend developing in China concerning marriage. Chinese women are moving away from the desire to get married. This has presented a problem in the country, where marriage was once a strong tradition.

With an aging population, having rid themselves of the one-child policy and more men available than women, Chinese women have their pick of men. However, Chinese men are struggling to persuade their women to marry them.

Why Did People Marry?

Historically, there was an economic incentive for Chinese women to marry. Traditionally, the husband buys the house when he marries a Chinese woman. But as women have become more educated and work as professional women seeking their own economic independence, this has changed their desire to marry. They can do what a suitor would have done for them on their own, lowering their incentive to get married. As a result, divorce rates have peaked. Divorces increased in China by 6% with 3.84 million couples divorcing within a year of marriage.

Are Americans Following Suit?

This is an interesting trend, and it looks as though Americans may be following suit. While divorce rates linger between 40 and 50%, being single in the U.S. has also become more acceptable. Singles now represent 50% of the adult population of those who are 18 years and older. Couples are opting to live together, have open relationships or just date for the long-term. Does this mean that we no longer value the institution of marriage?

Why Do People Marry Now?

This is not necessarily the case. When probed deeper, the Chinese expressed several things in which Americans can probably relate concerning their views on marriage. They desire to have a family. And the social stigma of being single is not an easy one to face as their parents are in long-term marriages and their friends and peers do eventually marry. The driving force of the Chinese wanting to marry consists of several factors.

They include:

1. Finding someone they actually love which would make them want to marry

2. Marrying someone on their own timeframe not because of societal pressures

3. Having a fear of ultimately being alone

Why Marriage May Be Inevitable for African-Americans

What does this say for Americans? Statistics bear out that most of us will marry at some point in their lives despite the statistics which are often thrown out to us indicating a lack of potential partners. For Black women, 87% of them will marry by the age of 55. And for Black men, 86% of the time they marry Black women. Interestingly, numbers are higher for Black men not getting married versus Black women.

So what does this all mean? People want to get married. But they want to do it on their own terms. They want to marry someone who they love so they can have a lasting union. They want their mate to be complimentary and compatible with them. Marrying someone who is incompatible, not on the same page, and who is not emotionally ready to marry are disincentives for people to marry no matter their ethnicity or nationality.

Do What Works for You

The world is changing and evolving and will continue to do so. Women have a greater deal of independence and access to experiences and professions which are similar to men. As this happens, it has opened up their world to newer experiences, delaying being a parent or sometimes being in a committed relationship. It’s not so much that people do not want to get married, but that they have options of who they would want to marry that is varied and diverse versus their parents or grandparents. The incentives lie beyond economics and are more complex.

While many desire a loving relationship, you may also want to have some level of independence and achievements in our own space. Figuring out how to merge this with marriage is fundamental to having the type of relationship which allows you to grow and have a long-term relationship with your partner.

At the end of it all, if you do decide to marry, you want it to be with someone whom you love. Social stigma, family, and peer pressure may affect your perception of being single. But the numbers prove something different. You should make decisions to do what works best for you and your lifestyle. And for that, whether you decide to marry or not is one person’s ultimate choice, YOURS!


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