Half of Americans 20 to 69 years of age believe marriage is not necessary -- according to a new study.
Zogby International and AOL surveyed more than 7,000 Americans in that age bracket and found 44 percent who said marriage is not necessary in order to have a committed, fulfilling, life-long relationship. Mike McManus, president of Marriage Savers -- a group that works to help churches reduce divorce rates, finds that number shocking.
"People who are married live longer, they're healthier, they're happier; they're wealthier," he points out. "A man who's single, for whatever reason, will live ten years less than a married man; a woman, about four years less."
Most of the survey respondents also said that they would prefer living together before getting married. "Unfortunately, the marriage message just doesn't seem to be getting out to the public," continues McManus. "And what we have is a reflection of Hollywood morals ... in the culture."
Fear may be the motivating factor in this study, says McManus. "Since 1970 there's been one divorce for every two marriages, every year. And that means there's a whole generation of young adults whose parents divorced and who are, therefore, fearful of marriage commitments," he maintains. "And they're fearful that if they marry they'll end up being divorced -- and their antidote is to cohabit."
But research by Rutgers University's National Marriage Project indicates that couples who live together before marriage are 46 percent more likely to divorce and significantly more likely to experience domestic violence within their relationships.
McManus believes the church shares some of the blame for this trend. "Churches really aren't very 'marriage-minded' -- they're 'wedding-minded.' They are equipped to be able to help couples have weddings, but they really don't know how to build marriages," he argues. "The problem is the pastors are picking safe subjects, and they're avoiding the subjects that could help us learn how to build relationships that can go the distance."
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