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Relationships

Divorce Rates Are Going Down. So Why Are We Still So Pessimistic About Marriage?

By Hayley Lewis·· 5 min read
Divorce Rates Are Going Down. So Why Are We Still So Pessimistic About Marriage?

Divorce rates are currently the lowest they’ve been in 40 years. Despite this, the marriage rate is still down and the age at which people are getting married is ever increasing.

New data show that Generation X and Millennials are increasingly picky about their spouse, plus they want to complete their education and get their career and finances in order before marrying. Consequently, the U.S. divorce rate dropped 18% from 2008 to 2016, according to University of Maryland sociology professor Philip Cohen.

“One of the reasons for the decline is that the married population is getting older and more highly educated,” Cohen said. Additionally, fewer people are getting married, but those who commit to marriage are the kind of people who are most likely to stay married.

Historically, many have cited the well-established 50% divorce rate for reasons to delay or avoid marriage altogether. Despite the fact that this statistic is improving, people are still avoiding marriage as evidenced by its steady decline since the 1980s. If the high divorce rates were what really scared people away from marriage, then the marriage rate should now be increasing. The fact that this isn’t the case sheds some light on what’s really keeping people away from marriage.

You’ll Never Be Ready 

Many times people say they’re putting off marriage because they just aren’t ready. While there’s certainly some justification in taking time to make sure you’re choosing the right person to spend your life with, no one is ever really going to be “ready” to get married

Making a lifelong commitment is a truly terrifying prospect, no matter if you’re 25 or 55.

Life has a way of throwing unexpected curveballs, and you can’t possibly foresee the many scenarios you and a spouse will encounter as a married couple. The vows you make and the unwavering commitment that you promise one another present a truly terrifying prospect, no matter if you’re 25 or 55. Claiming not to be ready is generally just an excuse to delay a daunting and lifelong commitment.  

Marriage Is Hard

Marriage is a beautiful gift, but like with most things that are beautiful, they come at a price. Marriage requires hard work and will likely present you with many new challenges that you would have never faced as a single person. It will challenge you and show you the most selfish aspects of yourself, most likely before you get to the really beautiful parts. 

It isn’t the parts of yourself that you worry about losing that are the aspects that end up going.

Being married requires you to think of yourself not just as an individual, but as a literal part of someone else. Some people view this as a losing of oneself, and in some ways it certainly is just that. However, if you’re willing to put in the work, it isn’t the parts of yourself that you worry about losing that are the aspects that end up going. It’s not the freedom to make plans without asking or to eat out without thinking; rather it’s the selfish components of your personality, the true flaws that your spouse sees more than anyone else, that are the things you lose. While working to overcome these flaws certainly isn’t easy (and we all have them), marriage helps you grow into a better person with each passing day.

Marriage Requires Sacrifice in a World Unwilling To Be Sacrificial 

Finally and most importantly, marriage requires sacrifice. This is distinct from the simple hard work that marriage requires. Hard work can often be done with a “grin and bear it” attitude, but the sacrifice that marriage takes requires that spouses elevate their hard work to a new level of self-giving. Things that are hard don’t always require sacrifice, but things that require sacrifice will always be hard. Perhaps the sacrifice seems to grow easier over the years, but I think that can only be attributed to the fact that the hardest work has already been done. It requires doing something hard and expecting nothing in return, all while smiling and growing in genuine joy, content with the fact that you’re giving to another. 

Things that are hard don’t always require sacrifice, but things that require sacrifice will always be hard.

We live in a world that justifies every selfish whim as an act of self-care, as the individual self is the end all and be all on the journey to find happiness. The reality is, though, that self-serving pleasures will never bring the kind of lasting joy that lies in dying to oneself and truly sacrificing, loving, and willing the good of another. We live in a world that no longer sees value in this ideology, so is it any wonder that there’s less interest in the institution of marriage? 

Closing Thoughts

Falling divorce rates sadly aren't enough to convince people that the hard work and sacrifice of marriage is worth it. Rather it will be the couples, who through unconditional willingness to give of themselves to their spouses and their families, will act as guiding lights to prove the joyful fruits of true, lasting love.

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