Why young couples aren't getting married


Among cohabitating couples, more than two-thirds of the study’s respondents admitted to concerns about dealing with the social, legal, emotional and economic consequences of a possible divorce…

The study also found working-class cohabitating couples were more apt to view marriage as “just a piece of paper,” nearly identical to their existing relationship. They were twice as likely to admit fears about being stuck in marriage with no way out once they were relying on their partners’ share of income to get by.

Economic reasons. When people are living in virtual poverty, there is a strong economic disincentive to marriage for those on the edge of poverty, which is increasingly common in this economy. This disincentive becomes so strong as to become nearly absolute if either one of the partners relies on government aid of any sort and the spouse isn’t rich (as the spouses’ income is inversely correlated to the amount of aid the other spouse receives: say, that one spouse gets $15k a year in benefits, cash and material, and the other spouse makes $20k working: if these people are unmarried, they have a total income of $35k: when they become married, the benefits are dropped, based on the spousal income,* as it would be if the individual was working alone, for the total income of $20k).

*This is essentially the end result, but it’s accomplished through opening benefits to taxation.

I know couples in that situation, which precludes both economic welfare and marriage (one can have one or the other), and seems to be a real reason to me, the loss of 50% of income: only if the economic disincentives were removed, could I see if there was another reason, or another rationalization, that they would come up with to avoid marriage. Too many as well also view marriage as merely a “formalization of going steady”, and something that can and will be reversed and undone as soon as the “boyfriend-girlfriend” relationship of fornication would be broken off, whether formalized or not.

I’m sure there are other reasons, cultural, social, moral, that have undergone a general decline, so that people can rationalize away not getting married, but even for those who are faithful and true, the economic reasons remain, and remain valid, if the option is between destitution and/or food insecurity and marriage, and even if not between destitution, between a large cut in income and marriage (which, I imagine, comes down to cultural and moral problems, of people not willing to accept a lower standard of living than they possess, which also ties in to the restriction of “libertarian freedom” that scares some off of marriage).

I think part of the reason is the culture’s warped view towards procreation, and also towards the scare of what can go down economically in a divorce. It’s definitely a multifaceted problem, and, sadly, I do not believe it can be corrected.

Yeah, I’m going with “moral” reasons on this one as I do with nearly every cultural problem.

This “shacking up” sociological demographic phenomenon began when we got rid of the Baltimore Catechism and its memorization by the religious ed students.

One of my priest-friends used a word that I had previously not been familiar with: “unchurched”.

One can add this. As “transfer payments” by government go up, the share of national income of working people goes down. As the share of national income of working people goes down, so does the marriage rate, for several reasons: First, people defer marriage because they don’t see how they can afford a family. Second, some avoid marriage altogether for the same reason. Third, because of these factors, the population does not increase (or, but for immigration, even stay stable). Thus, the percentage of elderly living on transfer payments increases, exacerbating the cycle.

That’s not to say I do not believe abortion and decline of moral values has its effect. I do believe they do.

I do not advocate throwing older people off social security (though I would means test it) but there really are excessive numbers of people living off the labor of those who actually produce.

There is very much a mindset of individualism. They don’t see a gain from marriage, only the loss of half their stuff. If they don’t get married to begin with they don’t have to commit.

Not to mention the fact that if the evil Bush tax cuts are repealed a married couple will actually be penalized for being married instead of at least being tax neutral.

One of the most common living arrangements I see at work is a woman lives on the dole with HUD paying for her housing, and collects welfare and/or WIC with the baby daddy living with her. Her job is to collect benefits as a single mother with no visible means of support while he works on and off.

Borrowed from another thread:

Rules for avoiding poverty:

  • Graduate high school
  • Get married before you have children
  • If you get married, stay married
  • Get a job, any job. A minimum wage job is a stepping stone
  • Avoid engaging in criminal behavior


Rules for avoiding poverty:


Marriage shows the way out of poverty:



Three simple rules for avoiding poverty:

(1) finish high school,
(2) produce no child before marrying, and
(3) produce no child before age 20.

If a person adheres to those three simple edicts, there is a 92% chance he will not be poor.


I would add one more simple rule: Learn to keep your word and do it while you are young. Whether or not you keep your word is the number one factor in your credit rating, and the lifetime difference between good credit and bad credit is around $200,000. That alone would be the difference between a difficult retirement and more comfortable retirement.

It also flies in the face of today’s “try it before your buy it” culture that couples who cohabit before marriage have a higher divorce rate than those who do not. If you have ever played sports your coach has told you that you play the way you practice. If you live together without a commitment, you learn to live without commitment. Divorce is an easy option for those who never had a solid commitment in the first place.

These economic factors are part of the issue, but I don’t believe they are the major one. They don’t explain the decline of marriage among people above the poverty line. For those not eligible for welfare, marriage DOES still have significant economic benefits: health insurance/benefits, inheritance laws (no probate), real estate rights(tenants in entirety), etc.

Marriage has declined because our culture has meddled with the nature order and attempted to cut apart things meant to be different facets of ONE subject. Human sexuality is that subject and sex, marriage and babies are the facets. When you tear them apart, you mangle the beautiful whole into ugly wreckage.

They are a product of their environment. While many middle and upper class people are not currently poor they or their parents were poor at one time. With the welfare state starting its fifth decade the learned social aspects are no longer confined to those in poverty.


I can really understand couples not getting married. Not only is getting married expensive, but divorce is even more expensive. Not only that, I’ve seen some pretty ugly breakups. It’s much easier to exit when you’re not married. Seeing how horrible people are to each other makes me very leary to get involved with someone in the first place, let alone commit financially and legally to someone.

If Murphy Brown can do it, why can’t I … [have a baby out of family]

[murphy who?]

I can appreciate wanting to have a baby but not get married. Again, with all the drama going on around with people being horrible to each other, and the cost of breakups, I can totally understand this decision made by people.

If I remember correctly, the father of Murphy Brown’s baby was the husband from whom she was divorced, so from a Catholic persective, they were still married. The problem was not the choice not to marry, but the choice not to behave like they were married in good times and in bad.

I agree with you that in a culture that readily accepts divorce many people see marriage and children as separate and optional–not relative to how they want to live.

I lived with my wife for five years before we got married. There were various reasons:

-We spent pretty much every evening together; we figured moving it together made sense. We were not quite ready to commit to marriage at that point though.

-It made financial sense. If we lived together we could split the rent, utility bills, groceries, etc. It was much more affordable than each having our own place.

-We had no moral objections to it. Neither of us are religious which I imagine is the case with many other young couples these days.

After living together for a number of years we learned a lot about eachother and decided that we wanted to dedicate our lives to eachother. Contrary to what some are saying, before we were married I never felt that I had any lack of commitment to her. I made more money than she did so I paid far more than half of the bills, and essentially treated her like my wife. I always considered the relationship permanent. Not being religious we didn’t feel we necessarily needed a government stamp on our relationship to make it “official”. I would imagine our situation is not that different from many others.

I also know many Catholic couples who lived together before marriage. The priest who married some friends of ours even told the women to use her parents address when filling out forms so that it wasn’t obvious.

I am following the above there. I am single and have no children, and have committed no crimes. I have a diploma, and have a degree. I will have to check those links out.

I think my strong Catholic faith has kept me from cohabitation. I would rather remain single instead of just settling for any person to marry. I’ve seen many people in my circle of family and friends who have many issues who are not married yet living together regarding the raising of children & also finances.

I will have to check those links later.

We saw how that works out. She had a live in caretaker and was still overly stressed by the demands of motherhood. Then her show was cancelled.

So why didn’t you get married sooner?

We just didn’t feel the need to :shrug:

It also had to do with cost. I know that a big wedding isn’t required, but it does seem to be expected. I waiting until a time when I could afford a ring and to pay for the wedding.

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