My Neighbor Says #Marriage Is An Outdated Institution

Is marriage an outdated institution? Or simply a misused one? Many people get married, and many people get divorced, and when this happens an accusing finger is often pointed at the concept of marriage today, the idea being with one person forever, as the problem.

Is it possible that the problem is choosing the wrong person to marry? Or choosing the right person, and not treating your marriage and your spouse with the honor and esteem they deserve? Or that not everyone has to get married, no matter how much your mom wants grandchildren, or how annoying it is that your friends with kids no longer call you to hang out?

the divorce rate and marriage today

It’s better to be happy alone then unhappy with someone. If you find someone you can’t live without, get married using good judgement, then always treat each other kindly and with respect, chances are very good you will have a happy, lifelong marriage. Almost 50% of first marriages today end in divorce because people marry to soon, choose poorly, or get married and then put their marriage and partner somewhere down the line on their list of priorities. Did you know that about 2/3 of divorce are because people get married before turning 21, and weren’t mature enough to make good choices? If you wait until you are over 21 to marry for the first time, your chance of having a lifelong marriage is 75%. That is pretty darned good.

Almost 70% of second marriages end in divorce, so if you don’t get it right the first time, your chances of doing better with someone else (especially once children are involved) becomes more difficult, and if you marry a third time the divorce rate indicates you are 75% likely find yourself single again. It’s easy to see why people think the institution of marriage today is outdated with these statistics, until you look at the ages of those getting hitched, the reasons they choose to get married, and the choices they make after marriage.

how to stay married happy

Marriage is a blessing for people who want to be married, are mature enough and ready to be married, and meet the right person. If you don’t fit that description and get married anyway, chances are you’ll be a casualty. I don’t feel marriage is an outdated institution if so many people still want to be married, get married (multiple times), and homosexual couples are fighting to get in on the act. Gladiator fighting is outdated. Electrocuting psychiatric patients is outdated. Marriage? It seems to be thriving in the midst of all the hate toward it as an institution.

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  • Sally

    I agree with your thoughts on putting your spouse too far on the list of important things being a cause of divorce. Marriage is sacrificial, and takes a good deal of strength and perseverance.

    However, I’m confused by the facts you state about young marriage causing divorce–when your own grandparents were wed at 19 and the sweet story is posted on your blog as well.
    I think it is not the age, or even the length of time that you know the person to whom you will be married–but the commitment to them that really counts. If you mean forever, mean forever-because even if you dated for 6 years instead of 3 months, there will be things you’ll learn, and things that will be hard; and all you will have is your commitment to get you through.

    Blessings.ReplyCancel

    • Penelope

      My guess is that today, most people at 19 are not ready to be married (my grandparents married in the early 1900′s and were very committed). In today’s society, keeping promises and commitments is not emphasized when raising children, and so for a majority 19 is too young to be married. That doesn’t mean couples that marry young won’t be happy and stay together (it just means their chances are harder and those that succeed are in the minority in the US).

      Children today are very much raised with a “What about me?” attitude, and in a marriage it can’t be all about one person, and it takes maturity to develop into a person who is unselfish enough to be a good spouse.

      Great question! Thank you for asking.ReplyCancel

  • The Pro Marriage Counselor

    Another thought provoking article. I agree with both Sally and Penelope in the comments section here too.

    I agree with Penelope that the vast majority of young people are not marriage-ready to say the least. I agree with Sally that when the right level of commitment through strong values is present, a marriage is given its essential foundation.

    A big part of the problem behind the growing “I think marriage is a thing of the past” phenomenon (just over 50% of young American adults agreed with this statement in major recent survey; as did 40% of older adults) is the popular media driven lack of precisely those values.

    I would add to both Penelope and Sally’s points by saying that it’s not just the lack of values that makes early marriage so challenging in this age, but also that there is a lack of the kind of basic relationship maintenance skills, like communication and collaborative problem solving, that any healthy, resilient marriage depends upon to thrive.ReplyCancel

  • Brian

    Come on people! Wake up! Have you seen the stats on marriage lately??? Would you get on a plane if it were announced in the boarding area that, “today’s flight has a 50% chance of crashing.” For Christ’s sake – my own grandmother urged me to not get married (she was happily married for just about her entire life). Do the words greedy, self-absorbed, narcissistic, and shallow mean anything to anyone now? For the love of God people – get a grip on reality! I have a great career, make lots of money, have my own home, have lots of toys, a couple of cars, a boat, a dog, and lots of money in my bank account. I would never, EVER put all that I’ve worked for at risk over a coin flip. Three words to study carefully people – ‘No Fault Divorce’. Today, women are men and men are women. Freaky!ReplyCancel

    • Kim

      I’d take the 50% chance and keep my marriage and do my best to make it the very greatest it can be over a life of toys and things that don’t matter any day. All of those things are just Stuff. A marriage full of love can make you Truly happy, unlike those things, which can only make you Temporarily happy. My husband and I got married at 18 and had our first child by 19. All of statistics say we will fail. I say, it’s worth the fight.ReplyCancel

    • Julie

      Hey Brian…will your “toys” do you any good when you’re old and alone?ReplyCancel

  • My parents are still married, which I know is becoming rarer but I believe in it. It’s not easy but most worthwhile things aren’t.ReplyCancel

  • Sometimes people don’t just change… they become someone barely recognizable from who they once were.ReplyCancel

  • Interesting post.ReplyCancel

  • Rich Oberhausen

    Penelope;

    Thank you for your posting on twitter.

    If there is a movement towards marriae being an outdated institution, then I think we might want to write a quick e-book on “How to Survicve the coming Chaos”……..(wish I had the talent to do this one)

    One thing is for sure, in my opinion, no one has walked the perfectly straight and narrow path for about 2000 years or so, depending on your favorite author.

    So, since marriage has it’s personal bumps and challenges for each committed, loving, well intentioned couple, maybe it’s time we started a therapeautic (sp) blog……and that would make my day!

    Your fan,
    Richard Oberhausen
    @richoberhausenReplyCancel

  • I’ll take my chances. I met my husband 25 years ago and we’re still together–not ever even coming close to divorce.ReplyCancel

  • I loved being married, but I feel no need to ever do it again. I like the sense of freedom it gives me and that I don’t have to be accountable or feel like I need to report in to anybody unless I want to do that. Now I just do what I do and tell him what my plans are. Plus, separate money is SWEET!ReplyCancel

  • We married at 20 and 22 which was too young in retrospect. The grace of God and hard work has kept us together 11 years.ReplyCancel