For a number of reasons, it is just not politically correct today to talk about how important marriage is. We might offend women who are older and not yet married, or be accused of being “old-fashioned” and setting young people back in their educational/career aspirations. And to say that marriage actually leads to greater financial security/wealth—well, you know. Only gold-diggers think that way…
Well, it’s not just more conservative folks with an agenda saying these things anymore. There is a new study out that will hopefully open a dialogue about the positive aspects of marriage—getting married and staying married for the sake of all the individuals in the family. W. Bradford Wilcox, a sociology professor at the University of Virginia and a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise institute; and Robert L. Lerman, the Urban Institute’s fellow in labor and social policy and a professor of economics at American University—collaborated on a study whose findings revealed that stable, two-parent families decrease the probability that people will end up living in poverty and/or in financially unstable circumstances.
In this study, titled; For Richer, For Poorer: How Family Structures Economic Success in America—the research is broken down into five areas. However, I am only going to focus on the economics here. Their shocking economic conclusion is that the medium income of families that include children would have been 44% greater two years ago (2012) if the marriage rate had remained the same as it was in the 1980’s. So in the last twenty years the divorced and unmarried number of parents has risen significantly, and with it, incomes have dropped by 44%, which has a very negative impact on the parents and especially the children in those families. Essentially, many families now in the lower class could have risen to the middle-class had they had the structure, support and resources that marriage offers. It’s hard to argue with statistics and hard research, folks.
The researchers also found that the gap is worsening due to adults with less education and fewer assets choosing not to marry at all—while better educated and higher earning folks, are the ones getting married and planning carefully for children. Perhaps this is a major contributor to the frequent lament we hear today about how the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. Our individual choices DO matter—and that is good news because that is something we have control over.
I am not in any way implying that you should marry just for financial security. It is so important to choose wisely, with both your heart and your head. What I am saying is that staying in a relationship because you are “in love” with someone who doesn’t seem to have any interest in marriage could end up being a dead end for you—and lead to a future of greater financial struggle and insecurity. Finding that right person is first, finding someone who wants what you want is a close second. Compatibility and similar goals and Values do matter. Yes, this is practical—and ask any happily married person how they chose their partner. My guess is they would say it was a conscious and thought out decision, not just one based on intensity and biology.
The reality is that it is easier for some people to get an education, find a good job and enjoy the good life—but this is possible for everyone. It may take more work and determination for some, but not letting that get in the way means you too can have a piece of that promised American Dream.
Want to read more about this study and its findings? Click here