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Davis Journal

Marriage hesitancy increasing – and here’s some reasons for it

Jan 06, 2022 11:13AM ● By Bryan Gray

For Christmas my wife received a surprise present: Her 40-year-old son told her he was finally getting married. The date is still cloudy due to COVID restrictions, but sometime in 2022 we will be flying to Naples, Italy for a wedding.

Of our four children, all either in or nearing their 40s, he will be the first to tie the knot. Two of the others have happily live-in relationships and feel they are “just as well as married” without the official paperwork. 

They are not alone. As an analysis published in the Deseret News last month noted, “Across the world...people are spurning marriage in droves, reshaping the landscape of childrearing and family stability as policymakers rush to understand the downstream effects of cohabitation and solo living.” The pattern is also seen in Utah where officials of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have admonished young couples to “get with it” and replace “hanging out” with seal-the-deal wedding vows. 

Why are young people hesitant to get married? Some reasons are understandable. 

The cost, for instance, has soared. According to the Deseret News article, the average American wedding in 2019 ran nearly $34,000. In my mind, however, the ridiculous price tag says couples are more concerned with the “guest experience” than the realistic nuts and bolts of a ceremony. Hey, you don’t need to do a wedding on the cheap, but neither do you have to make it a royal Mardi Gras!

Another reason for marriage hesitancy is the realization that marriage is not easy as evidenced by the 33% divorce rate (and 25% divorce rate among married couples with children under 12). As mystery writer Dorothy Sayers wrote, “One really ought not to marry unless a woman is prepared to make her husband a full-time job.” Granted, the role of the woman in many marriages is to turn a night owl into a homing pigeon. 

Also, as religion has waned among young adults, the need to make a commitment official seems less relevant. When couples ages 25-34 were asked the main reason they married, only one in six cited cultural/moral/religious reasons and only 5% said living without the ring was socially unacceptable. 

So I can understand the reasons many young men and women are putting off a wedding date and I would never say couples living together without being married love each other less.  Furthermore, I believe it is a positive thing that, with more females enrolled in college than men, women don’t feel pressured to grab a husband for financial reasons.

But at the same time, marriage does enhance the stability of a relationship. Children do better with a married couple and tax advantages help married couples navigate volatile financial challenges. Young men and women should view marriage not as a societal expectation dictated by religious officials or parents, but as a bridge to a more settled companionship.

All marriages will not look alike. As George Bernard Shaw wrote, “marriages are like fingerprints – all different,” but all needing an investment of time and care.

Enough said! It is off to Naples in 2022. My wife and I couldn’t be more pleased.