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Marriage Statistics--Fact or Fiction?

If you check out any website that gives you information on marriage statistics, you'll see that the number of people getting married and divorced keeps changing and sometimes greatly from year to year. It used to be many generations ago that the vast majority of people got married in their early twenties, and divorces were rare. Then suddenly divorces became easier to come by and their numbers skyrocketed, and marriage statistics began going all over the charts. Second and even third marriages become more commonplace than ever before, and the number of people having their first marriages when they were in their late twenties or even thirties, and sometimes even later than that, began to increase as well.

What can all these marriage statistics show us? Are people just not interested in finding a mate anymore? Are marriages themselves doomed to failure? Or, are there benefits to putting off that first marriage that many people are now realizing and understanding?

One of the reasons for marriage statistics to be all over the map is that many people are finding that what worked for one generation is not necessarily going to work for another. In the past, it was expected that a woman was to get married and have children and nothing else. Men were expected to start working at an early age and provide for a household, and nothing else. However, today's generations are finding that this isn't necessarily what they want to do with their lives, at least not in the prime of their lives. Marriage statistics are reflecting the fact that many women are opting for careers as well as families, and are putting off getting married until they're out of college and established in their career choice. Many people also feel that they want to have some adventure and travel or do other things before they get married, so they may choose to spend their twenties still being single. Those marriage statistics reflect that many people would like to do the things they can do without children before they settle down and start raising a family.

This doesn't mean that people just aren't interested in relationships and especially in long-term relationships. Most people enjoy being with a "significant other," even if it means still maintaining two separate households. This is something that many marriage statistics don't often show, that two adults may be in a very committed relationship with one another either under separate roofs or while living together, but are just not married. Very often it isn't until children come along or the couple plan on having children that they actually take that walk down the aisle.

So marriage statistics can tell us quite a bit about our society and people's feelings about relationships and commitment, but they obviously don't show the entire picture. They are not always a complete reflection on how people live. Like so many other statistics and cold facts and figures, they are only one piece and not the entire puzzle itself.

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