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Is falling US marriage rate a bad thing? Some find positives in the data.

The portion of US adults who are married has hit a record low, barely half, which experts say bodes ill for child-rearing. But many see positives in the latest data and say the institution is not imperiled.

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“When you look at everything that is being discussed in the political/public sector, you find no one talking about the disintegration of the American family. Nobody cares, and yet, it affects everything,” he says.

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Noting that Scandinavia has a marriage rate of 20 percent and all of Europe’s is close to 35-40 percent, he says America is heading in that direction and it is not good.

“All the research shows that when kids are not raised in stable homes with two parents who dote on them – one as disciplinarian, one as nurturer – that the child develops imbalances that he tries to fulfil for the rest of his life.”

The pursuit of faster, bigger cars and larger homes is an outgrowth of this, as is the vicarious fame coveted by those who watch reality shows, Rabbi Boteach maintains.

He would like American politicians to begin putting family issues back in the forefront of discussion with such ideas as tax credits for marriage counselling.

Author and parenting specialist Stacey Nelkin says the statistics show less a rejection of husband-and-wife relations than a dramatic change in women’s choices about education and independence.

“In the 1960s, women saw their goals as finding a man to make them financially secure, having children, and being a housewife,” she says. “Now they are on career tracks to go to college, get degrees, and have careers. Getting married is just one of several options for them.”

And Galena Rhodes, senior researcher at the Center for Marital and Family Studies at the University of Denver, sees a very positive trend in young people waiting to get their act together before making the crucial decision to get married.

That there is a “rise in those young people who want to get more education and find the right partner to settle down with is a very encouraging piece of good news for this institution,” she says. She says the young people have looked at the growing number of divorces and don’t want to go down that road.

“The fact that kids do best when they grow up with both married parents is one of the strongest findings of psychology,” she says.

She would like to see relationship counseling be an education staple for youth well ahead of getting married. “Part of the reason that fewer are married is that they are waiting longer for the right reasons.”

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