Why is there a trend among younger adult males to avoid marriage? Based on a study done at the University of Utah by researchers Nick Wolfinger and W. Bradford Wilcox, younger men in particular believe that they will lose their freedom if they marry. The marriage rate in the US continues to decline. The Pew Research Center reported in 2014 that the number of adults who have never married is at a record high (20 percent), especially among younger male adults. Ironically, there is significant research that shows the many benefits of having a spouse. Specifically, married men earn more money, have better sex lives, live longer, and are happier. Married women also appear to have some of the same benefits, but the impact is not as dramatic. Why are men avoiding the commitment of marriage?
Some may fear losing control, freedom, and decision-making authority. They may struggle with compromise and sharing, and prefer to do things their own way. Others may live with mistrust and fear of being vulnerable and exposing themselves to the risk of rejection or emotional pain. They may not believe in the institution of marriage and the assumed rules tied to this covenant. Some grew up with bickering parents who never seemed happy and have vowed not to repeat that mistake. Or maybe they haven’t matured to the point of being committed to one person. Still others may feel that living together provides all the same benefits without the ultimate commitment. They are convinced that the relationship can be equally as committed and connected without being married. However, being legally bound to your spouse provides a deeper level of commitment on a practical and emotional level. By design, one person can not just walk away easily when the going gets tough (as it inevitably will).
As mentioned last week, relationships are messy, but have great value as well. Being in a long-term, committed relationship can provide security, stability, and comfort if it’s a healthy one. Connection, companionship, and compassion are important to most human beings and do benefit our physical and emotional health. However, it is still very important not to rely exclusively on your spouse to meet all of your needs. We should have activities and friendships outside of our marriage that give us joy and fulfillment. Otherwise we may put too much pressure on our partner to fulfill all of our needs and not have a life outside of work and marriage. Living a diversified life creates more passion, energy, and excitement while taking the pressure off one person. Live life to its fullest while maintaining healthy and appropriate boundaries and you will reap the rewards.