Valentine's Day report: seven ways marriage is changing

It seems Valentine's Day, when 10 percent of all marriage proposals take place, is one of the few constants in the institution of marriage. Here are seven ways marriage has changed from 50 years ago, when marriage was between a man and a woman barely into their twenties, of the same race and social class, till death did them part.

2. Not during a recession, honey

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Data show that Americans have put off marriage during the economic downturn.

How did the recession affect marriage and divorce? As also happened during the Great Depression, both marriage and divorce rates dropped. Some 52 percent of adults were married in 2009, compared with 57 percent in 2000. Americans were reluctant on the one hand to take on the financial commitment of marriage as pink slips and pay cuts proliferated – and wary of the expensive legal battles and resource-splitting associated with divorce.

There is good news, too. “We’ve seen an increasing solidarity among some [married] adults because of the recession,” says W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia. “There’s a renewed appreciation for the more fundamental, pragmatic benefits of marriage, like securing social welfare.”

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