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State of the Union: Marriage on the Decline, but Love and Commitment Are Still Valued


Pew Research asked Americans some questions about love and marriage and compiled the results from a handful of surveys over the last few years. Their conclusion: Marriage is on the decline, but people still search for love and commitment.

Americans value love and commitment

Eighty-eight percent of Americans cited love as a “very important reason to get married.” Coming in at a close second at 81 percent was “making a lifelong commitment,” while companionship came in at 76 percent.

Number of married Americans is at its lowest point since 1920

The age at which the average American is marrying is climbing, according to the research. In 2016, this age reached its highest on record, with men marrying around 29.5 and women around 27.4 years. What this climbing age means for our culture is that while 72 percent of people over 18 were married in 1960, today only about half of Americans over 18 are.

However, even if there are fewer people with a marriage status attached to their tax return, that doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t in relationships. The research found that 8 percent of adults are cohabiting and 11 percent described themselves as being in a “committed relationship.”

Online dating is viewed favorably, for the most part

The number of people who use online dating sites and/or mobile apps is increasing (15 percent in 2015 versus 11 percent in 2013). However, among people aged 18-24, the increase has been more dramatic, with 10 percent of people in this age range using in 2013 compared to 27 percent in 2015. Not only are more people using this approach to finding relationships, the perception of online dating is becoming more positive. Fifty-nine percent of people feel it is a good way to meet people and 47 percent feel it is “easier and more efficient” than meeting people in traditional ways.

In spite of the growing cultural trend to delay or replace marriage with things like cohabitation, there is a silver lining. People are still concerned with love and long term commitments. These are two things Jesus knew a lot about and taught on frequently. As people search for love in our culture, we as church leaders have the joy of pointing them to the author and source of love.

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Megan Briggs is a writer and editor for churchleaders.com. Her experience in ministry, an extensive amount of which was garnered overseas, gives her a unique perspective on the global church. She has the longsuffering and altruistic nature of foreign friends and missionaries to humbly thank for this experience. Megan is passionate about seeking and proclaiming the truth. When she’s not writing, Megan likes to explore God’s magnificent creation.