Marriage As Capstone, Not Foundation


“If you get through college and you have careers, getting married is how you reward yourself.”                                                 –Brian J. Willoughby, Journal of Psychology researcher

Young adults are delaying marriage not because it matters less but because it’s so important, concludes a study by Ball State and Brigham Young University researchers published in The Journal of Psychology.

Surveyors asked 571 single students at Ball State to think about the future and predict how much effort and energy each would put into marriage, parenthood, career and leisure/hobbies. The individual effort between the four categories must equal 100 percent.

Marriage won out at 29.9 percent, though parenthood (27.6 percent) and career (26.7 percent) were just behind. The results are not surprising, the study notes, because marriage trends, parenting trends, careers and social lives are integrated.

“What we found when we made them assign values was marriage was still the most important thing in their future,” Brian J. Willoughby, BYU professor and lead researcher, said. “So it was more evidence than we’ve seen in the past that young adults are still valuing marriage.”

The value of marriage in today’s society has become an issue as marriage rates decline and the number of cohabitating couples climb. In 1970, marriages per thousand of females 15 years and older, was almost 77 percent. In 2011 the rate had dropped to barely 35 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

America is also experiencing a marriage “divide” across education and economic lines. College-educated young adults are still likely to marry and have children later. Among those with lower education and socio-economic status, babies are born, but marriage may never occur.

Horizonte, Salt Lake City School District’s alternative high school and adult education provider, hosts a “young parent” program for pregnant teens with appropriate emphasis on parenting as well as child-care for their infants.