The Future of Marriage: Is it Becoming Extinct?
- Joe Beam President, Marriage Helper
- 2004 9 Jul
Some of the modern, liberal thinkers of our day have said that marriage will one day become extinct. They've predicted marriage will slowly but surely be thought of as old-fashioned and unnecessary despite its current popularity and existence throughout human history.
Perhaps their predictions are based on the changes in the way society views love and marriage. During the 1960's, society showed us a picture of love somewhat unfamiliar to American culture at that time. The popular love stories of the day began focusing only on passion and held an attitude that said, "I'm not committed to you but I am having a great time with you sexually and romantically. I like how you make me feel right now. But who knows what I'll feel tomorrow? So let's not make any kind of commitment to each other but just enjoy this moment."
Novels, newspapers and other forms of media touted this as the ideal kind of love. A direct correlation can't be proven, but during that time the divorce rate skyrocketed and has remained high until today. That warped concept of love taught us that if we can't have all the passion and pleasure we want from one person, we can always find someone else who will give it to us. Perhaps that is why some marriage researchers tell us that today 6 in 10 marriages at some time in the course of the marriage are affected by extra-martial affairs.
Before this infatuation-based love concept, the majority of American society saw marriage as a commitment that was kept often in the face of obstacles and tough times. Unselfishness was the key to marriage then and the focus was on the big picture of "till death do us part" and raising children in a home with a mom and a dad.
According to the Census Bureau, the number of children living with only one parent has increased from 9% in 1960 to 28% in 2002. This statistic is discouraging news for those of us who support commitment-based, traditional marriage. The infatuation-based, passion-only ideal of marriage is certainly alive and well today, but that doesn't mean committed, unselfish love is dead or dying.
The Benefits of Marriage
Because of my belief in God and His message to us in the Bible, I believe He placed the desire for a committed relationship with a member of the opposite sex in each of us. I don't believe men and women will give up the benefits of traditional marriage relationships even though it is under fire now. There are too many positive side-effects that marriage provides society for it to be tossed aside. Though I cite the Bible's recipe for marriage and believe it because of my Christian faith, modern research also tells us that the marriage of one man and one woman provides benefits to the couple and any children they might have. Research suggests that:
• Married people live longer and generally are more emotionally and physically healthy than those who aren't married.
• Married people need less health care.
• Married people exhibit increased satisfaction and happiness in the workplace
• Married people exhibit decreased feelings of loneliness and boredom
• Married people have prolonged access to increased intimacy
• Married people report greater levels of sexual fulfillment and frequency
• Children of a marriage of one man and one woman receive the benefits of learning from role models of each gender. Each gender brings different strengths to the table and in marriage, children can receive a balanced influence of the two. In our work at Marriage Helper, one of the most common complaints we hear from single moms is that they wished their children had a male influence and role model, a counterpart to compliment them in child-raising.
I believe God knew these benefits existed with the marriage of man and woman and that is why He instituted it with the first man and woman (Adam and Eve). Modern research also supports the Biblical-based concept of marriage as the ideal environment for a loving relationship of man and wife--and for stable, happy, well-adjusted children. Because humans need the security and committed love that marriage offers, I believe it will continue to be the backbone of society until the end of time.
"Marriage should be honored by all..." (Hebrews 13:4).