Marriage Rate Trend Analysis

Topics: Marriage, Divorce, Family Pages: 5 (2810 words) Published: December 20, 2013
The cultural tradition of marriage has long been considered one of the most enduring and meaningful moments in the history of an American’s life. From an anthropological standpoint, marriage in America is a rite of passage that two people partake in once they are economically, socially, and psychologically stable enough to make a long term commitment. This commitment historically has marked the transition from adolescence, to adulthood. One of marriages primary goals is to integrate sex, parenthood, economic cooperation, and emotional intimacy in a permanent union. Marriage has long been held in high esteem because it represents love, which is the very essence of the human condition. The institution of marriage is recognized by the state as a legal union in which the couples can economically profit, and the church recognizes marriage as a union which will bring the couple closer to God. Although marriage has long been one of the most important structures set forth by our society, the amount of people getting married is declining at an unprecedented rate. In 1970, there were approximately 76.5 marriages for every 1000 unmarried women under the age of 15. By the year 2000, the marriage rate dramatically decreased to only 44.5, and 8 years later, the marriage rate hit an all- time low at 34.8 marriages for every 1000 unmarried women. (Lee). The future of marriage looks to either become completely obsolete, or of utmost meaning, due to the decline of the marriage rate over the course of the last 30 years, due to the trends of the increased prevalence of cohabitation, individualism, and the fear of marriage, which could lead to negative impacts on children of single family homes, and on society as a whole.             The institution of marriage has forgone a constant evolution throughout history, and different parts of the world. Although we now associate marriage with love, many historians believe that marrying for love is a recent Western innovation ( Coontz). In the stone age, individuals began to group themselves together in order to establish structure for child rearing, and in order to maximize the output of tasks that needed to be done on a daily bases. The first marriage ceremonies are believed to be held over 4000 years ago in Ancient Mesopotamia. (The Week). During the early history of marriage, from the period of antiquity, to the renaissance, politics and money were the predominant reasons for marriage. (Psychology Today). The main role of marriage amongst the elite was to preserve power with kings and other members of the elite by offering up their daughters for marriage in order to create alliances. However, the main role of marriage amongst the average citizens, and the poor was procreation, and the continuation of the family blood line. (The Week). During this time, love in marriage was seen as destructive, and undesirable. The Greek’s and French both viewed lovesickness as insanity (Coontz). During the early stages of the history of marriage, it was acceptable, and even expected for a man to take a concubine, if his wife did not bare him any children. In the Bible, Solomon is cited as taking upwards of 300 concubines. In ancient Rome, marriage was a civil structure which was governed by the state. When Rome collapsed in the 5th century, the Catholic Church took over and changed the definition of marriage at the time. Instead of marriage being a social structure, it was now viewed as a union between a man and a woman, which will bring them closer to God. As the church expanded and tightened its grasp upon the reigns of societies collective self-conscious in the middle Ages, it also expanded and tightened its grasp upon the fundamentals of marriage. In 1215, the church greatly heightened the importance of marriage, by declaring it one of the church's seven sacraments, alongside rites like baptism and penance. During the early stages of marriage, the customs and traditions were far different from what they are...
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