Four in ten Americans think marriage is obsolete? Fifty three percent of Americans think two unmarried people raising a child is good or makes no difference to the child? Less than half of poll respondents oppose same sex couples raising children together? Beaver, you are not in Cleaver land anymore.
The Pew Research Center has come out with another gem for us to ponder, discuss and make predictions about. The findings of “The decline of marriage and rise of new families” were released on Novemeber 18th- and they are sobering. If one is to believe that today’s trends lead to tomorrow’s realities- we may be on the cusp of the most significant societal shift seen in recent decades. This would make feminism and stay at home dads look old fashioned and quaint. What’s a dating coach to do?
Before we get too carried away with these findings, we should all think about all the movies and TV programs that feature (ideal) relationships leading to love, marriage and forever after. For exhibit B take a look at the dating/courtship and wedding industries. People continue to go online, join singles groups, try speed dating, and hire dating coaches in record numbers- with the goal of getting engaged and married - and spending a small fortune doing it.
So, why the big difference between what people say they believe and what they do- or is there one? My experience tells me that people often say they are not looking for love because they believe this is what they are supposed to say or feel. Heaven forbid anyone should think they are actively seeking a partner. This would be construed as desperate. There is also a political correctness piece to this that should be factored in. No one wants to be one of those close-minded, intolerant folks who judge people who have kids outside of marriage or discriminate against same sex couples. The ones who go on record tend to be more openly conservative, religious or a combination of both- and comfortable saying so.
Then there is the reality that all societies evolve- and the younger demographic may be much more comfortable with cohabitation and/or parenthood outside of marriage, with same sex couples and with the idea that marriage may be an outdated institution that leads so often to divorce that one should carefully consider trying the alternative- which is easier and less messy to exit, or is it?
Whatever your own beliefs are, take heart. The engagement season is upon us, followed by the marriage season (spring). After the next few months are over, the findings of this study may seem a whole lot more palatable and preferable to you.