Will You Marry Me? A Look Inside The Recent Pew Poll On Marriage

If recent news stories about a Pew Research Center poll are correct, that is a question that few people are going to be asking in the coming years. According to reports, nearly four in 10 Americans say, "marriage is becoming obsolete." But as usual, there is more to the story. Even The Washington Post says so.

In fact, when you look at the entire study, Americans still absolutely believe in marriage and want to be married. In fact, only 13 percent indicated no interest in getting married; even cohabiters expressed a desire to marry, with 84 percent saying they still wished to be married. Nearly 70 percent of 18-29 year-olds also stated in the survey that they wanted to be married, and a significant number of Americans are more optimistic about the future of marriage than they are about the moral standards of the nation.

Unfortunately, in a culture where the media rarely portrays marriage in a positive light — when was the last time you saw a movie or television show with a happily married couple? — people's perception of marriage is that the culture sees it as outdated even if individually most still respect and desire marriage. Not that the Pew study is all good news; there are negative indicators as well.

A large number of Americans, around 40 percent, believe "it doesn’t make much difference" if unmarried couples raise children together or live together outside of marriage. Not surprising considering that cohabitation and out-of-wedlock births have skyrocketed since 1960 — a retreat from marriage that has had a devastating impact on America's children.

Yet social science clearly states that men, women and children are more likely to succeed emotionally, financially and educationally within a two-parent, married family. In an excellent article, Focus on the Family marriage and family expert Glenn Stanton provides a detailed overview of the research that tells us what a majority of us understand — marriage matters.

So, what's the story here? The truth is that Americans still believe in marriage and want to get married while at the same time they are concerned that marriage is becoming outdated. More Americans are waiting longer to get married and living together prior getting married, resulting in a generation of children being raised in the uncertainty of a life with uncommitted parents.

The question remains whether these trends will reverse. Will Americans begin to live out what they claim to believe — that marriage is a good thing? For our children's sake, we have to work toward making sure the answer to that question is an unequivocal "I DO!"