Do you think marriage is becoming obsolete?
December 15th, 2011
04:00 PM ET

Do you think marriage is becoming obsolete?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Fewer Americans are getting married than ever before.

A new pew survey shows barely half of adults in this country - 51% - are married.

That's a 5% drop from just a year before and down from a whopping 72% in 1960.

The marriage rate has gone down among all age groups in the U.S. - but most dramatically among young adults:

Only 20% of those younger than 30 are now married, compared with nearly 60% back in 1960.

The survey also shows Americans are getting married at older ages than ever before. For women, the average age of a first marriage is 26.5 years; for men it's 28.7 years.

Researchers say it's unclear if people are simply delaying marriage - or abandoning it. They point to similar trends of putting off marriage in other developed countries, especially in Europe.

And - experts say the sharp drop in marriages from 2009-2010 "may or may not be related to the sour economy." They point out that marriage has actually been on the decline for the last 50 years.

Also, this drop in marriages reflects an increase in other kinds of living arrangements - including couples living together without getting married and single parenting.

Some suggest there's been a huge cultural shift when it comes to getting married. For example, around 40% of people say marriage is becoming "obsolete."

And as one sociologist tells the Washington Post, "In the 1950s, if you weren't married, people thought you were mentally ill. Marriage was mandatory. Now it's culturally optional."

Here’s my question to you: Do you think marriage is becoming obsolete?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Kim in Kansas:
With a divorce rate well above 50%, draconian child support laws, dropping incomes and a vaporized middle class, no wonder marriage only works when doctors, lawyers, and hedge fund managers marry each other. I highly recommend that no one gets married until both partners have earned their first one million dollars. That way they'll have some left for the divorce lawyer.

Weddings have become the focus. It's not about the marriage; it's about the party, dresses, gifts... then whatever. Babies are accessories after the fact.

Women today are more empowered than women of 20 years ago. Today they have better status, purchasing power and are the highest percentage of new home owners. Marriage isn't what it used to be; now we have same-sex marriage, domestic partnerships and the single life looking more appealing than ever. Girls are now taught younger and younger that it's acceptable to be freer. The bonds of matrimony aren't as ideological anymore.

J.K. in Minnesota:
Speaking as one who has never married, I pretty much "married my career" after I graduated from college – there wasn't room for a social life while I was trying to carve out a career as a woman in the business world. When I finally did have room for a spouse, I realized that I've become set in my ways and enjoy my freedom too much to consider marriage; plus I now would need to seriously consider a pre-nuptial agreement to protect my assets.

Tom in Florida:
After 22 years of marriage, once was enough for me. I just could not handle all her problems. I'm going on 60 and the last 10 years have been the happiest of my life. Why would I want to get married again and screw that up?

Posted by
Filed under: Marriage
soundoff (136 Responses)
  1. Kevin SD CA

    Because the word is getting out that Lawyers, Judges, Mental Health, and all their Paralegals, and supporting staff that run Family Law are nothing but glorified pimps making a living off of redistributing the fortunes of the dominant spouse as soon as it is ripe for the picking.
    Not to forget that children are being used as bargaining chips to keep these pimps busy after the weak family structure is destroyed completely by a liberal system that never gives it a real chance in the first place!

    December 15, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
  2. Noel Sivertson New Mexico

    People just don;t have a sense of commitment anymore. That, plus marriage puts a damper on hedonism.

    December 15, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
  3. B. J., Quincy, Il

    One because of the restrictions put on marriages, second people have found out that it is better to just live together.It puts more trust into the partnership.

    December 15, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
  4. Mel - Houston

    The American male has lost the possibility of hope for success. There is no point of getting married if you can't afford a family. Oh my, Newt has lost his potential labor class.

    December 15, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
  5. John from Alabama

    Jack: There are several reason for a low marriage rate: the economy stupid; no meaningful relationships; no time to get envolved with a spouce; easier just to live together; people do not want to be tied down to just one person: no vows for America; and some like playing the field. Some people work so hard to get ahead in this world that they miss the very best things in life. Remember, the best things in life are free, if you have heart, and eyes to see with.

    December 15, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
  6. Jk from Minnesota

    Speaking as one who has never married, I pretty much "married my career" after I graduated from college – there wasn't room for a social life while I was trying to carve out a career as a woman in the business world. When I finally did have room for a spouse, I realized that I've become set in my ways and enjoy my freedom too much to consider marriage; plus I now would need to seriously consider a pre-nuptial agreement to protect my assets. To me, that isn't a good way to enter into marriage. I'm not sure how representative I am of all the single people, but I chose to adopt rescue animals instead of a spouse. They enrich my life enough and are always glad when I come home. That's enough for me.

    December 15, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
  7. Rick McDaniel

    Women no longer need marriage. they now have the ability to make their own living, and have children, without the nuisance of a man. They now comprise more than 50% of the work force. They control 80% of the household economy.

    They simply don't need, or care about, husbands, anymore.

    December 15, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
  8. Annie, Atlanta

    It costs a fortune to have a decent wedding – the equivalent of a down payment on a home or condo, or the purchase of a small car – for a failure rate of nearly 50%. You get penalized when filing a joint return. You wind up responsible for a financially irresponsible spouse. Those are just off the top of my head. I'll stop here, though it doesn't end here.

    December 15, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
  9. jen-seattle,wa

    Our marriage rate is so low becuz Wall St has their parasitical tentacles into every aspect of life that allows a couple to seek happiness and raise a family.SInce wall st controls our govt , the inflated rates for the costs of living have out paced the young couple attempting to make a go of it. Get the dangers of being thrust into the streets or attacked by the prolific drug pushers and pimps and maybe people wont be so concerned about failing at the faith of love..WHen love is superceded by demands for money to pay non working shareholders,, our entire culture is at risk.

    December 15, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
  10. Tom in Desoto, Tx

    I'm married but I believe most could get better odds in Vegas

    December 15, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
  11. John (Roswell)

    Women today are more empowered than women of 20 years ago. Today they have better status, purchasing power and are the highest percentage of new home owners. Marriage isn't what it used to be, now we have same-sex marriage, domestic partnerships and the single life looking more appealing that ever, what with all the reality shows out there, the open relationships, free love and the down-sizing of faith. Girls are now taught younger and younger that it's acceptable to be freer. The bonds of matrimony aren't as ideological anymore. We have no one to blame but ourselves (men). Come on robot women!

    December 15, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
  12. Pat in Michigan

    It isn't about the moralsJack.It's about the money!No one can afford the legal fees in a divorce.

    December 15, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
  13. Ed from California

    Why pay for the cow, when the milk is free. We are a country that has no commitment values. Just look at our "job creators", no commitment, no values....just like John Boehner and his party.

    December 15, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
  14. Ken - Kingsport, TN

    I suspect that there are two primary reasons. One is economical and the second is ethical. Rome is burning.

    December 15, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
  15. Richard Texas

    Probably not to two people that want to be married as well as the wedding planners, confectioners, tuxedo rental places and anyone else trying to make a buck. To those that have no interest in marriage then it is a waste of time and money.

    December 15, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
  16. tom bulger, Canandaigua, NY

    In the past there were people who married the opposite sex, even if they weren't straight. It was the expected thing to do. These days people resist the pressure to pretend they are something they are not. Ahmadinejad aside, these days the only thing expected is the unexpected. As gay marriage is legalized in the rest of the states the stat will recover.

    December 15, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
  17. David in Tampa

    Besides the obvious reason due to the economic recession there are two reasons I can think of; 1. most people getting married these days are too egotistical and immature for a long term relationship, and 2. divorce can be expensive. A combination of fewer marriages and fewer divorces impacts the earning potential of attorneys, clergy and Justices of the Peace. Most people get married to start a family. It is hard to want to bring children into this world when you may find yourself among the long term unemployed.

    December 15, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
  18. Bryan, Colorado

    Who can afford to get married and raise a family these days. Not very many. Its the economy stupid. Would you approve of your daughter to wed a person with no job. I rest my case. . We act as if one of these republican candidates has solutions, what a joke. I think it wise to elect a new president thats not a republican or democrat. 99 percent can't be wrong. Go occupy movement I support you.

    December 15, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
  19. Ed from MD

    Perhaps, but on the bright side so is divorce.

    December 15, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
  20. calaurore9

    Weddings have become the focus. It's not about the marriage, it's about the party, dresses, gifts. Then,whatever. Babies are accessories after the fact.

    Carol in NoHo, Ma

    December 15, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
  21. Monica Trattler

    Yes, it is.
    Besides that, please start reporting on the Insider Trading by our elected officials. What CROOKS !!!!!!
    also what happened to Charlie Rangle. Is he STILL collceting his payckeck ?

    December 15, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
  22. ken, atlantic city, nj

    It is already obsolete. Marriage has become a gravy train for greedy women. Gay partners now get all the government benefits of marriage. All that is needed is to give government benefit equality to straight couples who choose to live together.

    December 15, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
  23. Larry -Denver

    It would seem to me that baby boomers (largest segment of the population today) have been married at least once and have not wanted a second chance. Those children of boomer and their grandkids have seen unhappy marriages and have perhaps thought twice about marriage, hence the percentage drop. Smart kids.

    December 15, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
  24. Kim , Dodge City, Kansas

    With a divorce rate well above 50%, draconian child support laws, dropping incomes and a vaporized middle class, no wonder marriage only works when doctors, lawyers, and hedge fund managers marry each other. I highly recommend that no one gets married until both partners have earned their first one million dollars. That way they'll have some left for the divorce lawyer.

    December 15, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
  25. Cathy

    I's called evolution; the signs of the times.

    December 15, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
  26. Tom - Florida

    After 22 years of marriage, once was enough for me. I just could not handle all her problems, and ultimately having her turn into a switch hitter. I'm going on 60 and the last 10 years have been the happiest of my life. Why would I want to get married again and screw that up?

    December 15, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
  27. Gary H. Boyd

    Jack the slump in the number of marriages in America of late is quite similiar to the slump in all other elements of our once focused Christian society. The basic fabric of our nation is coming apart at the seams and it won't be long before America is in tatters. It is a sad commentary on what this country is becoming. Sad, but unfortunately true.

    Gary in Scottsdale, Arizona

    December 15, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
  28. Michael Bindner, Alexandria, VA

    Not at all. Families are the building block of society and marriages is how families are created. Unless you want the state as your next of kin or be forever tied to your family of origin, you have to have marriage. To not extend marriage to gays is to forever trap theml legally in families of origin which may have already disowned them for being gay. My mother has no say in my health care if I am incapacitated – as it should be because I have a wife. The same should hold for my brother vis a vis his husband.

    December 15, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
  29. Ronald

    Just saw twitter saying 50% of Americans are at or near poverty level. Being married conjoins your income causing the

    December 15, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
  30. Michael Bindner, Alexandria, VA

    The problem with marriage is not marriage, its capitalism, which has of late been underpaying workers so that they cannot afford to get married or have families.

    December 15, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
  31. Loren

    Thinking about what a marriage is has become obsolete. Marriage becomes less relevant when the purposes of it aren't understood or agreed upon, or it is entered into willy-nilly. The mere fact that same sex couples can now get "married" has rendered it more of a civil institution than a religious institution. Fact of the matter is that marriage has gone through various permutations over the centuries and has survived, and will survive its current devaluation. Being divorced, I appreciate much more how difficult a true marriage is and how desirable it remains.

    December 15, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  32. Ronald

    Just saw twitter saying 50% OF americans are at or near poverty level according to census. Being married raises your taxes, lowers your foodstamps and cancels your SSI including medicaid if you are poor. Poor people cannot AFFORD to be married. And if the man and woman live together they face SS fraud for saying they are not married. We have created a Great Society which discourages marriage for the poor. And unwed marriage can be seen as an income strategy.

    December 15, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  33. Ted

    Our moral values have not the institution of marriage. The inflexibility of those who think they alone can define what marriage is are the same people that have declared war, killed and utter every hatred word in the name of what they deem a just cause. They fail to recognize that a union between two out of love, and yes I said LOVE, may not be blessed by man but is by the one who is above all and the total essence of love our Creator, God.

    Santa Fe, New Mexico

    December 15, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
  34. Gerry

    Marriage isn't obsolete but the cost of divorces discourages forming any kind of a partnership. Ask Paul (whats his name) of the Beatles. Every time you divoce you cut the pie in half and eventually theres none left.

    Ash Fork, Az

    December 15, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
  35. Jeff

    sure Jack why get married,I'll just find a woman who doesn't like me and give her my house.

    December 15, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
  36. Sylvia from San Diego

    The word "committment" in general has become obsolete so no, I am not surprised. Disappointed yes, but, not surprised!

    December 15, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
  37. Brian in IL

    Am very surprised it is that low, especially in the post-AIDS era when most folks' sexual resumes are considerably smaller. I had always heard that it was back on the upswing again. But I bet that if you were to subtract those cohabitating or in stea;dy relationships, which I refer to as the SINO's(Single in Name Only), the number would be fairly minute. The number who are completely unattached is probably relatively small as the hideous AIDS epidemic killed off the so-called sexual revolution over two decades ago. Maybe there are some who don't wish to be bothered with the formality of marriage. Very few couples today enjoy the type of lifetime commitment that my parents had. They were married for 55 years. This could be a rarity today, however.

    December 15, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
  38. Larry Braus

    The Iraq war ended today. Is anyone going to mention that no WMD was found?

    December 15, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
  39. Ken from California

    You state 40% of people say marriage is becoming "obsolete." Probably many men find in this era of cultural change, they can go to most bars where women now congregate in abundance. Many seek what their male counterpart does, a one night honeymoon. Why marry?

    December 15, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
  40. Brad, Portland, OR

    Other than for the tax benefits, or for religious reasons, what reason is there?

    December 15, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
  41. Dan5404

    Jack, there are many reasons., but our declining way of life is the main one. A lot of young people simply can't afford it. Plus, there is so much stress and uncertainty nowadays, more than half end in divorce, usually with both parties suffering financially and emotionally. With half of America in the low income categoy, joblessness and even homelessness growing, marriage is becoming more an institution of people with means. Love and most other things we treasure are losing out to money, or the lack of it.

    December 15, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
  42. Mike S., New Orleans

    Marriage isn't becoming obsolete. It's becoming too expensive. A single mother with three kids gets a lot more free money from the government that a married one with three kids. Getting married reduces the amount of entitlements for government funded breeders.

    December 15, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
  43. AB

    I do not think marriage is obsolete. Regardless of the changing times in our country and world, people will always marry and marriage will remain relevant in the lives of at least some people. I think the traditional societal roles and expectations that marriage imposes on men and women are obsolete. The present situation of marriage decline reflects the fact that people have other alternatives to marriage and do not have to marry. These alternatives, such as co-habitation, provide social roles and expectations that are flexible and are not socially stifling. In order for marriage to survive in the 21st Century and in the distant future, the roles of men and women must change and both sexes must have an equal status in marriage as they do in alternative relationships.

    December 15, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
  44. Doug

    If you are planning on having children, marriage is important, because it is important to the kids to have a mother and a father. I don't belong to any Religeon, that is just the way it is. It is also important for someone to take care of the children at home, so one spouse has to carry the weight financially. That is not a religeous point of view. That is just the way it is. The way things stand now, the government has gone to far, in the direction of being the kids daddies. That is a big mistake. I like gay folks as well as straight folks, but I wouldn't want to have 2 daddies or two mommies. I would make exceptions however, for children without a home. There are some things in nature you can't change. A childs need for feeling loved and having a secure home is as basic a human right as there could ever be. Messing with Human Nature is as dangerous as messing with Mother Nature. Don't mess, don't get greedy, do the right thing, and do it aslong as you live. Or simply don't have kids. Doug.

    December 15, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
  45. Allen

    No, Jack marriage can never go out of style, because a man's life is not really complete until he is married. Once a man is married, then he's finished.

    December 15, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
  46. Kevin in CA

    It's a risk – benefit analysis. The cost of divorce vs. possible tax advantages. And then there's the "try before you buy" philosophy.

    December 15, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
  47. Bizz, Quarryville Pennsylvania

    I don't think marriage is becoming obsolete. I think it is because it isn't frowned upon to live together or wait later on in life to marry. More women have careers than ever before and in these modern times they are able to have babies later in life. Our economy doesn't help the marriage situation either. Back when I was young you were expected to be married in your 20s. Women were supposed to stay home and in the kitchen barefoot and pregnant. Nowadays women have more say in how they live. Couples to not get married because they are expected to, but get married because they want to, and a lot of them just don't want to.

    December 15, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
  48. Rich in Gainesville FL

    Maybe people are just figuring out that they don't need the government's permission for whatever their living arrangement happens to be. If we all stopped running to get state marriage licenses, then marriage would be exactly whatever each couple wanted it to be instead of whatever a bunch of cranky politicians define it to be for everyone else. I'm all for one less thing to fight about.

    December 15, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
  49. Paul P

    Obsolete is a strong word, but I do think some people are realizing that marriage is little more than an legal complication. Relatively meaningless if a relationship survives, and hell on earth if it doesn't.

    December 15, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
  50. Alex in Bremerton, WA

    After three tries I will never get married again. The breakup is too expensive especially when all three ran up the credit cards before telling me about their new friend with benefits.

    December 15, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
  51. Kirk (Apple Valley, MN)

    Is this why the GOP/Tea Party/Religious Right want constitutional amendments stating that "marriage" is only between a man and woman?

    December 15, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
  52. Lori - PA


    Maybe because of a longer life expectancy, people don't feel a need to hurry up and get married. Or maybe people want to get their career established (especially if they went to college for four, or more, years) before making what should be a life long commitment. Is it really anyone's business if someone chooses to not get married?

    December 15, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
  53. Dave, Orlando, FL

    Slowly, but probably surely. We are a mobile (and selfish) society so being attached to a ball and chain (of either gender) tends to cramp one’s style. Besides, those who are unmarried look at their friends who were married and wonder what the point was. I wonder what those surveys say about the average length of a marriage today as opposed to those of more than half a century ago. If you recall, most of us who took those vows are still keeping them. But today, it is more like a commitment to a non commitment.

    December 15, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
  54. Tina Tx

    To women who want to climb the corporate ladder probably or the ones who make big bucks & want to keep their monies separate. But most of us still believe in marriage. We go through phases. This too will pass.

    December 15, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
  55. Mark M. in Newmarket, NH

    I certainly hope so, Jack. And when singles like me become the majority, maybe we can get all the tax breaks married couples get.

    December 15, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
  56. curtis in philadelphia

    Jack, marriage is an antiquated way to consolidate wealth and power and in the US nowadays, the average American has neither wealth or power.

    December 15, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
  57. Grant Peier

    It undoubtedly is decreasing in popularity, but as long as religion holds its power in America there will always be some group that sees it as sacred. I am sure with time, however, the idea of civil unions between ANY two people will gain popularity. It is inevitable..

    Boulder, Colorado

    December 15, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
  58. Jenna Roseville CA

    Do you think marriage is becoming obsolete?

    Here is what I see Jack, it is not that marriage is becoming obsolete, it is people are getting married older because of many factors 1. lack of money 2. lack of maturity 3. lack of values etc.

    And I beleive that gay people should have the same right to marry as straight people have that right. And before all you homophobes have canaries and claim that they can't reproduce just keep 2 things in mind 1. many straight couples can't reproduce and 2. most gay people come from stright families where as most straight kids come from gay families.

    But this is only my humble opinion.

    Roseville CA

    December 15, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
  59. Sandstone.

    "Yes, the last two hundread years idea of marriage is going out of style, but the original version isn't. Men and women were always meant to live together as couple's and I suppose we will go on, But the marriage certiicate is osolete these days, it's just another controling piece of paper that the young can do without!"

    December 15, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
  60. Mark from New Jersey

    Get married? Who can afford it?

    December 15, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
  61. Todd- St. Cloud, MN

    Obsolete? No. Dangerous? Yes. Your statistic sighting that men are now waiting until they're nearly 28 may be evidence that young men have finally begun listening to the experiences of the 50% plus of the elder men whose marriages ended in divorse. While women have always talked among themselves, not until recently have guys got together and disgussed what marriage and/or divorse means. Young men have grown to learn that a failed marriage means he'll be thrown out of his home and have to continue to pay for it, and that he will NOT get half of his belongings or anywhere near that, and that if he has anything left after that he won't after fighting for the right to see his children for 2 hrs/week and an occassion weekend at the discretion of the ex. It's not obsolete Jack, it's about survival.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
  62. andyz Lynn, MA

    Is it a coincidence that marriage has gone and become useless as the drop in attendance in churches has risen?

    December 15, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
  63. Gigi Oregon

    When a country falls into the mess we are in today all the rules go out the window. We don't trust any more. Our government leaders, our laws and morals are corrupt. This didn't happen over night. In my Opinion the last straw was the religious right in the 2000 campaign. Leading us down a math of dishonest messages. Then a war in the wrong country for the wrong reason, with borrowed money from China. You know the country we say has no human rights... Ha!. Banking and big business fraud. Government leaders doing insider trading and the list goes on and on. This is when the American people with a dream saw we were hanging by a thread and wanted change but the damaged was done and the middle class was left holding an empty bag. So we voted for change and we got short changed thanks to...the hold of our corrupted rivals. So why would you see marriage as a loving intuition...it take s a lot of trust amd our young people don't see much stability in there homes, churches or government. So what the --!. Live and let live.

    Until our churches go back to preaching scripture, instead politicking and the government Representatives get voted out by honest representatives..., hang on it's not going to get better.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
  64. Paulette Bent

    No I don't think it is becoming obsolete but I do think people are waiting longer. Single parenthood now being accepted puts "Having to get married" if a girl turns up pregnant not a necesity. Society has loosened up considerably over the last 60 years. To get married is expensive and to get divorced is even more expensive.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
  65. RickFromDetroit

    Lawyers, Money, Lawyers, Money, & more Lawyers & Money!!

    December 15, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  66. Helen L, Tallahassee, FL

    Are you kidding? Too many girls want to plan a wedding for marriage to become obsolete.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
  67. Roy E Pearson

    Yes, unless you are gay. In the Gay Community being able to be married is a sign of arriving into normalcy, just as Heterosexuals are leaving. Ironic isn't it.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
  68. Thomas

    I don't think its become obsolete. I think we have made it overly expensive and aren't honest about the amount of work that it takes for a relationship to work.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
  69. BigToots (Colorado)

    I don't know about "obsolete" but certainly unaffordable. Divorce is costly. Also many single Moms can also collect various financial benefits from the government (housing stipends, food stamps, Medicaid, child care, tuition assistance, etc.) So why get married?
    Colorado Springs

    December 15, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
  70. Susan from Idaho

    It's cheaper to stay single that get a divorce. Love and commitment are what couples need not a piece of paper.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
  71. Terry in Virginia

    Marriage should be an option for everyone willing to pay the marriage tax and to have government-sanctioned entitlements like making decisions for one's spouse in case of illness or inheriting an intestate spouse's stuff. The worst thing is staying in a bad marriage for the kids. I know. I was one of those kids. As to why I'm married now? Simple: my husband asked and my heart said "Yes" before my brain said "Are you nuts?" 23 Years later I'm still nuts about my husband.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
  72. Troy WA

    Well what would women do if they could not do anything and get their half

    December 15, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
  73. Nhyira

    Yes Mr. Cafferty, I think marriage has become obsolete! I mean you have homosexuals who are changing the way marriage is and heterosexuals who don't want to commit! so I think marriage is out of date yeah, and i'm only 17 so what will marraige be by the time I am 30?

    December 15, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
  74. Brandon L. Brown

    Things wax and wane according to too many variables to count. No, I don't think marriage will become obsolete as long as we men (at least in straight marriages) still need women to keep them out of trouble.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
  75. The Bob

    There is little or nothing in marriage to reccommend it to women.....and exactly nothing to reccommend it to men.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
  76. Larry in Houston

    Answer : To Your Q : YES – I know more people Now, than I Ever Have, and whenever you get into that Subject – most of them will tell you – that they are living together – blon't blame them, actually. But When my wife died (in 2002) after 22 yrs of marriage, I told myself that I would die to be an old "widower" come to find out, after about 5 years of "bachin" it, I found someone who ended up making me happy again, and ended up getting re-married again, Jack.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
  77. Eileen

    My husband works with a middle-aged guy who is not going to marry his live-in girlfriend because the combined income means less financial assistance for college. I think this is just wrong – avoiding marriage tomscam the system. Marriage may well be dead in America. Yay for my 34 years.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
  78. Doug Hannah, CA

    It's not becoming obsolete but being postponed. As the average lifespan increases things seem to adjust accordingly. It's more common now to stay in school longer for master degrees and live at home longer with the parents. It makes sense that getting married is being put off as well.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
  79. Sanam

    I don't think marriage is necessarily becoming obsolete, but rather the generation we live in today is becoming much more demanding and independent. Everyone can be independent nowadays, i.e. have a baby without a "husband". As far as demands go, so many people nowadays want more in/for their life.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
  80. Renee Peoria,Ill

    I always thought it was obsolete. I'm in my late 40's and I've never been married. A ceremony and certificate that effectively says 'I now pronounce your love for each other legal in the eyes of society'. Should we even wonder why society has so many problems when something like love requires a legal stamp?

    December 15, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
  81. Doc from Colorado Springs CO

    With divorce rates as high as 50% in the US, I think people are being careful not to take the risk because divorce could be very costly both financially and mentally and diminishes any potential benefits of being married

    December 15, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
  82. james in greenville nc

    No, Jack, marriage is not becoming obsolete. We are in a cycle of "anything goes" but I think that the pendulum will swing back to the more traditional values. Hopefully people will see that they need more anchors in life.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
  83. Kierra- Atlanta, GA

    Its not that marriage is obsolete, it's just that people don't need each other the way they used to. Women are becoming more independent and men are able to do their own housework.Without set gender roles and a feeling of dependence, couples are together because they want to be- not because they have to be.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
  84. Larry in Houston

    Answer : To Your Q : YES – I know more people Now, than I Ever Have, and whenever you get into that Subject – most of them will tell you – that they are living together – don't blame them, actually. But When my wife died (in 2002) after 22 yrs of marriage, I told myself that I would die to be an old "widower" come to find out, after about 5 years of "bachin" it, I found someone who ended up making me happy again, and ended up getting re-married again, Jack.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
  85. Avery

    yes jack, because people are basically no good.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
  86. Candice North, Arizona

    The rate and age of married women is a direct indication of women's power within that society. As women are gaining more career equality and pursuing higher academic degrees, they are less dependent on their male spouse's income and therefore marriage is less appealing, as it really just adds to the responsibilities of a woman's day: childcare, cleaning, etc. As a 30 year old just about to graduate medical school, I am unmarried without children because I wanted to garauntee that I would always be financially and socially independent of 'the man.' And as a career woman, it is more difficult to find a man who respects your status and isn't looking for a housewife.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
  87. Jean

    Are you kidding Jack? I live in Iowa, where gay marriage is legal. Apparently everybody wants to get married. Come here and try to say marriage is becoming obsolete, I think alot of people who were in a legal battle to gain their civil right to marry would disagree.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
  88. George from Corvallis Oregon

    Who cares, Jack....to those that still hold value in Marriage "it will be done"...to those that don't "Why Occupy" that arena?...oh, and if Marriage was legalized for the people who want to be married but can't due to "Legal" prohibition I'll bet the number would soar...then what would your question be? (Happily married Old Guy)

    December 15, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
  89. Dan Hullett

    Anyone with half a brain only has to look and see how divorce courts treats a marriage vow, and how the corrupt system works, by getting married allows the government to enter your personal life and space and take control of all your finances, and will destroy whats left of the break up. Too many are selfish these days and are not mature enough to get married anyway, so a better alternative is not to get married and allow intrusions by government entities. The courts hold nothing sacred about the wedding vows. However, this being said, I have been burned numrous times because the courts do not up hold the sanctity of marriage, and the marriage vow, it doesn't make it wrong for marriage, but the courts should not have any say in the matter, the vow is a contract between 3, both spouses and God, he is the judge not the courts. Although I have decided I will never marry again, nor take a live in, I still beleive in the sanctity of marriage and have advised my children in Gods word, and look forward to thier success and grandchildren to hold and admire. The government should not be involved with the marriage process, nor the deletion of it.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
  90. Edmund from Los Angeles

    Maybe. But luckily we have the faint prospect of a Rick Santorum presidency to look forward to, under which making people love each other enough to get married will be the top priority of the federal government.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  91. Joey Best

    In 1960, men ruled the world when it came to marriage. Today, marriage is the Absolute worst agreement any man can sign with regards to financial obligations. Tell me of another contract that gives a partner 50% plus monthly checks for who knows how long, for renigging on the contract? I'm happy to see men are smartening up! I've learned my lesson!

    December 15, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  92. Flyingwolf from Manchester, NH

    Most marriages are fake anyway and entered into just to gain social acceptance.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  93. Allen

    Without a doubt, Social Liberalism is the cause of marriage decline. I’m fiscal liberal and social conservative. People sometimes say that’s crazy, but they won’t inn a few more years. Never to fear, gays will fill up the marriage ranks soon enough, Fat lot of good it will do anybody though.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  94. Maren

    Having worked in Family Law for over 20 years, I can confirm that marriage itself is on the decline, and unmarried parents are far more common each year. Call it what you will, "marriage" is simply the coming together of two people who believe they love each other, willing to plight their troth – literally braid their respective lives & treasures together – and living in that state until they choose not to. Child bearing should be society's big deal – and it's often an afterthought.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  95. Craig Chilton of Evansdale, Iowa

    Society has made HUGE strides on many fronts since the 1950s, and this is just one of the latest of those enhancements. As far less-complicated cohabitation sensibly replaces marriage, I think many of us will get to recall when marriage was "a quaint custom that people used to allow themselves to become ensnared by."

    December 15, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  96. Northwest!

    I am getting married next year, we love each other very much, I have a job I love and so does she!
    Best to all of you whatever you do. The sky is not falling, times have changed... roll with it!

    December 15, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  97. Rich

    It's fascinating that straight men and women seem to be abandoning marriage while gays seek and embrace it. What does it mean? Possibly a shift in values and confirmation of the old adage "you don't know what you'll miss until you don't have it anymore."
    Rich/Vancouver WA

    December 15, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  98. Dan Hullett

    addendum to my previous post. I have raised and advised my daughters about the sanctimony of the marriage vows and the morals that are required for a lasting marriage. That it takes 3 to make it work, them, their spouse, and Christ. But the biggest and most important thing I taught them and that they learned is to be educated, and self sufficiant, and by doing so won't be inclined to husband shop for the mere purpose of someone to take care of them. If they had a good education, a good job, and could take care of theirselves, then and only then they could search for someone of equal values and goals. My youngest is now a registered nurse, but still working on her masters to become a nurse practicioner. My oldest will be graduating this spring with a doctorite degree in pharmancy. The youngest has wedding plans for next year. I wish them both the best of luck. Our courts need to treat a marrage as a contract, and uphold the marriage vow, as it is now, it's all about sucking all the finance out of the marriage, and assuming no fault when a spouse cheats.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
  99. Ralph Nelson

    I am unqualified to say. Whatever makes two people happy in a relationship and is best for any children. Maybe people have simply realized you can't own another person's life and prefer to be free. but carrying about others. I'm too independent and repeal females as a result. Never married, never had a girlfriend or boyfriend, but always called a "gentlemen" by the ladies. I like independent women who work hard, are educated.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
  100. J C Johnson

    The average marriage is a microcosm of Congress and the very stalemates we’re observing. In both cases, Jack, I feel sorry for the children involved.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
  101. Omar from California

    Of course marriage is becoming obsolete. Marriage is a religious institution that was designed to keep women in the home, powerless, uneducated, and generally make women men's property. It's no wonder then that as our nation–and all developed nations–empower women more and more, we see a decline in the number of marriages and a delay in the age by which people get married. I find it to be a good thing Jack; it's evidence that women are finally becoming men's equals.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
  102. Gordo

    Certainly Obsolescent. Living in sin, gay partners, and children out of wed-lock were scandalous events when I was a kid in the 50s. We were more Taliban-like in those days. Now, no one even blinks when folk mention their children living with boyfriends, girlfriends or domestic partners, or having babies outside of marriage. I think we are better off. Besides, I think Ron Paul is right that government has no business licensing or regulating personal relationships.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
  103. Nelson, North Carolina

    Continued unfaithfulness to, abandonement of, and disregard for the Judaeo-Christan ethics, upon which this country was founded, will result in a continued decline of marriage and its sanctity.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  104. John

    For a man, marriage is not worth the risk. As long as courts continue to railroad men and side with women, marriage will not be an option for most men. Women have a mind set that they will get half of everything, the kids, and the house....and you know what, they will. Marriage from a male stand point is dumb......

    December 15, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  105. Sarah Middleton, OR

    The reasons that make marriage once make sense, no longer exist. Our society is ever-evolving, and women especially are becoming more empowered and independent. I don't thing its such a bad thing, and nothing will ever replace the full and completed commitment of two people in love, but you don't need a marriage license to make that commitment. And not everyone is lucky enough to find that perfect partner, or be at a point in their life where that's a priority.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  106. Michael in Inlet, NY

    I'm approaching 40 and I've never been married. Although I am educated and hard-working, I don't make enough money to buy a wedding band let alone a house. My girlfriend and I are struggling to stay afloat, and marriage is not something we even discuss. We are happy with each other which seems to be the most stable part of our lives. Although we don't object to marriage, we find it to be as fleeting as a strong U.S. economy. Instead of a wedding, we put overpriced gas in our cars.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  107. K Wade

    Marriage, as a required Rite of Passage for the formal religious designation of a fulfilled adult relationship, is no longer seen as a social requirement within the secular society.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  108. Jonathan Ruddiman

    I beilieve that marrige is a conformity of society today. People today shouldn't have to get married if they don't want to. It is also a major commitment which some people may not be able to handle. If you're talking about marriage, then you might say that there may be children involved. Kids are expensive! In this economy, who can really deal with it? Money is a HUGE influence

    December 15, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  109. Sara / Richmond, Virginia

    I am only speaking from my own experience, but being a child of divorce (my mother, divorced three times, and my father divorced twice) I have made the decision to wait until I am absolutely positive. I am only 21 and many of the people I went to high school with have already had their first child and most of them are married, but I don't see my life going like this. There are so many things that I want to do and I honestly don't believe that I really know who I am yet, so how can I find a life partner? I think what you're failing to realize is that the children of divorce, who now fit in your under 30 range, have seen enough failed marriages and are just being more cautious.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
  110. Candice North, Arizona

    marriage has become a joke. two words: Kim Kardashian.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
  111. Jim Green, Seguin,TX

    Jack, My significant other and I have lived together for 22 years…if we had married, I suspect we may have divorced years ago—perhaps it is the binding “contract” that is making marriage more and more obsolete?

    December 15, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
  112. Reggie McGuigan

    No Jack, women still want to get married, men are just winning the battle right now.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
  113. Cognition

    Tie the not is made up and is not realistic but it's not a bad thing just life has no rules people make the rules and we the people embrace and expect things that or already in place before they were born.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
  114. John

    I'll get married when i find a women that has more to lose then me......

    December 15, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
  115. Arlene, Roselle, Illinois

    Well Jack,I must be the Odd one in this world as I've been married for 52 years to ths same man
    while living through Fast foods, realality TV shows, No evening dinners anymore, and in the world
    where the word NO in the norm. Marriage is obsolete only if you can't handle it.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
  116. John

    how many stories do you have to hear of men losing everything......men are waking up......just get the milk, don't buy the cow.....stay single, buy a Porsche, keep your home.....

    December 15, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
  117. Dut J. Akech

    Jack, We are in those obsolete communities because most of the women are unfaithful to their men. They are not following putting of 1960s women.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
  118. Nadim Talukder

    No Jack, marriage is not becoming obsolete yet. One of the main protections that comes with marriage is the word marriage itself. Marriage is a statement of commitment between life partners. I think younger generation carefully considering that commitment before fall into marriage.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
  119. Ray in Knoxville

    Jack, people have awakened to the fact that for years, marriage was nothing more than a prison for women and a way for men to get a cook and housekeeper. In the middle of the 20th century, however, women, like other so called 2nd class citizens, said enough is enough and decided that they would no longer put up with infidelity, violence and other ills that marriage brought. They said "no more." The Christian right doesn't like this, but then they don't like the other revolutions from the 20th Century; equal rights for minorities, gay rights, a vibrant middle class, etc.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
  120. Steve Bickham

    WHAT HAPPENED TO MARRIAGE (this is definately NOT politically correct or anything woman want to hear today) You know, if you can remember back to the womans liberation movement you'll find what has happened to the family. Woman decided long ago that they wanted to make as much money as men and that way they could put their children in child care and work to make more and more money for the family.(the begining of the demise of the traditional family). But don't blame the woman, man had it going on and with our traditions of family and a long tradition of marriage, things back in the 50s (before I was born) were pretty good. Man decided maybe the Woman had a point though and she should work as we do and make as much as we do and they would just call any man a bigget that didn't agree with the womans new philosophy. Now what we got is a breakdown of the traditional family and a breakdown of the traditional way of thinking when it comes to marriage. Moms doesn't have time to raise the kids and dad can't get along with mom because she wants the best of both worlds, she wants to have her own life, be treated as a woman, and act like a man. Man doesn't want to be married to these woman anymore, at least he doesn't want to be dominated in a relationship. Woman today want to dominate and live their own life, and man let it happen. What's really sad is no one is left to raise the kids properly with the mass of broken families. Welcome to the side affects of womans liberation.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
  121. Lisa

    If you are not religious, a marriage is only a legal contract. If you love someone be with them, no lawyers involved.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
  122. Osa

    Cafferty, marriage is definitely not becoming obsolette, those things that hold marriage together are becoming rare. Moral values about marriage has decreased as a result of people going into marriage with different mind set other than what marriage is suppose to be, economy also is playing a huge part in it, cost of raising children now compared to 1960 may have quadruple, our kids spend more years in school trying to get their education and in the 1960, in most homes, men were the bread winners, but not so today as many of these men are in jail for one thing or another.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
  123. Terry Wells -Hoosier Hillbilly-Greensburg,IN

    mine is!

    December 15, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
  124. Rick, Annapolis

    I'm 65 and living happily with my 63 year old girlfriend. Her first marriage and divorce left her fairly well set up. Mine left me pretty much having been taken to the cleaners. Taxes, social security laws, and the lack of necessity for any kind of government validation are keeping us unmarried, but together and happy. I don't need a seal of approval from the government any more than I need to put my money in an IRA riddled with Draconian rules about what I can do with it. My life, my happiness, my money – keep the damned government out of it all.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
  125. David from Canon City Colorado

    Marriage started declining with the introduction of the birth control pill. Before birth control the consequence of having sex was a child. Sex was a much more important bond and required communication between a man and woman… because of the consequence. Now there is rarely a consequence and that lessens the communication and commitment between partners. Marriage is less of a big deal these days.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
  126. Chris

    If you look at the statistics, marriage is becoming rarer among the poor and the working class. That may be due to economics. But it may also be tied to education. The more education you have the more likely you are to marry. Since research shows that couples who cohabit break up at a much higher rate (even if they later marry each other) and that marriage has benefits for mental health, physical health, and happiness not only of the couple but for their children, the danger is that besides income inequality we have a growing gap in the quality of life of socio-economic classes reflected in and fed by the difference in incidence of marriage.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
  127. Pete from Georgia

    Probably. Anything to do with God's word and ways is becoming obsolete as man's ego grows out of control and the World becomes more lost by the day.
    Sad and pathetic.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
  128. Carol

    Jack: no doubt more and more women are choosng to establish their careers and are postponing marriage. But, as co-founder of the New Jersey Alimony Reform, I can, with certainty, say that women (and some men) who divorce and are "rewarded" with permanent alimony (lifetime annuity) have little incentive to remarry. (Permanent alimony is terminated either upon the death of either party or remarriage of the recipient.). This antiquated law may also be attributing to the recent decline in marriage.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
  129. Aaron from Troutdale, OR

    What we as Americans consider as sacred is quickly becoming less and less important. The idea of scared bond and commitment in front of God just dosent strike a cord with young Americans like it once did This points to the continual abandoment of spiritual principals and the overall decline in spirituality in this nation.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
  130. Mark, North Philadelphia, PA

    Marriage is "SCARY" and the word "FOREVER" in marriage nuptials does not make it any easier. My wife and I married for religious reasons and it is those beliefs that keep us grounded with direction. We entered marriage with the concept of happiness and love, while lacking experience. Our faith is what gives us daily hope and understanding towards emotions respect and care for our marriage. In other words a reality check. This is what Americans are missing and with out a boost of reality (respect and care for a spouse's needs and emotions), the idea of marrying, may become OBSOLETE!

    December 15, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
  131. Val in Ohio

    I believe people are realizing that marriage is increasingly unnecessary and risky. Women are largely self-supporting now and the stigma against remaining single and single parenthood has virtually evaporated. Also, the high divorce rate has cheapened the institution and dampened the enthusiasm amongst eligible participants. It simply does not make sense to enter into a marriage that limits one's freedom and is likely to end in divorce. That said, I have been very happily married for nearly 30 years! However, I realize that marriage is not the best choice for everyone and that many are better off remaining single.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
  132. Jorge

    I believe the decline in Americans getting married is directly related to the secularization of our society. Once upon a time, marriage was a religious ritual. Now, it has turned into a way to let the government know that a couple has close ties to each other and they want their significant other to be taken into account in any legal procedures. This is not exactly a romantic or noble image to motivate Americans today to get married. Maybe we should get rid of "marriage" licenses, change it to "civil union" licenses, and leave marriage to religious institutions where they still believe it is sacred.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
  133. Bob in Kansas City

    Get rid of all the divorce laws and marriage will come back......no one wants to take a chance on losing what they took a lifetime working for to satisfy something a two bit judge decrees as "fair". You tell me why should someone have to pay lifetime support to a grown adult fully capable of working?.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
  134. marybeth, massachusetts

    Not obsolete, just postponed. Society and social mores have changed. People can live together without getting married–all the benefits of a spouse (some to cook, clean, do the laundry, pay the bills, etc.) and none of the commitments that marriage requires. Some have been burned by an ex and don't want to risk marriage again. Older women who waited for a decent man found he never showed up, but they still want kids. If they're financially able, they have kids but no husband. Some men and women prefer to play the field.

    And I think the economy has a lot to do with it too. A wedding costs a lot of money (although you can always go to a JP and have a backyard barbeque instead of a fancy gala) and people aren't working, or are underemployed, or have other bills that are more important (student loans, credit card, mortgage, child support).

    There's no longer any scandal, at least here in the "liberal" Northeast, about women having sex outside of marriage. Men have always had sex outside of marriage without any penalty socially. Women faced ostracism, possible pregnancy, and worse. The birth control pill made sex for women more like sex for men–divorced from reproduction. So there's no need to get married in order to have sex, unless she adheres to her religion.

    December 15, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
  135. Mike

    I married at the young age of 19 after joining the military and stayed married for nine years before divorcing. I was very unhappy during the final three years of my marriage and wasn't sure if I ever wanted to go through it again. I just recently went through a breakup of a relationship of two years for that very reason – she wanted to get married and I didn't. I'm now 30 and plan to put myself first for a while rather than worry about making someone else happy.

    December 15, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
  136. Zack

    No. Marriage is fundamental to the well being of society. The decline of marriage rates is related to the decline of individuals' perceptions of morality, specifically the appropriateness of sexual intimacy outside of marriage. Marriage for thousands of years, in nearly every society has provided the social context for relationships between men and women as well as the protective social framework necessary to raise children.

    December 15, 2011 at 5:01 pm |