Welcome to the Emerging Leaders Blog
Last week, the US Census Bureau released a new report about marriage demographics in the United States. Among the most notable findings was the percentage of all women age 25-29 who are never married. In 1986, 73% of all women were married before turning 30. However, these findings show that currently, over 47% of women remain unmarried at age 30. Currently, the median age at first marriage has climbed from 21 for women and 23 for men in the 1970′s to 26 for women and 28 for men in 2009 and climbing.
So what’s going on with marriage in America? Do people not value marriage any more?
To the contrary, almost every public opinion poll reveals that Americans by and large still value marriage and aspire to make a lifelong commitment to one person.One Child Trends study found that 83% of unmarried young adults said that being married one day was one of the most important priorities in their lives. Another large study found that a happy marriage is among the top 1 or 2 life priorities of most Americans. This finding holds across religious and non-religious adults.
If young adults and Americans value marriage so highly, why are they putting it off?
There are many explanations for our changing marriage demographics. Some have argued that the Paradox of Choice for young people- or having so many choices that you are paralyzed to choose one, knowing there is always a potentially better option- keeps young adults from making a commitment. Some argue that young adults need more time to develop emotionally and intellectually, or that the economy requires more education for career-worthy jobs now. Pornography addiction, the soul-mate mentality of a partner and over-sentimentality of women have been suggested as influences that distort ideas of marriage and healthy relationships. Individualism. Materialism. The loss of courtship. Cohabitation. Fear of divorce. The list goes on and on. Whether good or bad, one thing is for sure, the pathway to marriage is changing for young adults.
So with all the challenges to marriage formation, how can we hope to make a difference?
Because we believe in the power of knowledge and education in impacting culture. We believe by understanding what is happening to the institution of marriage, both on a societal level and in our personal relationships, that we can change things for the better.
And because we believe in you, in us, the rising generation. What will happen to marriage is up to us. We are the ones about to step up and take the reigns as the next leaders, businessmen, politicians, educators, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, and citizens. We will decide how the marriage question plays out, and whether a positive voice for marriage will be heard in the public square. So we want to start that dialogue right here.
This is what we want to explore here on the Emerging Leaders blog. This is a space for us to write, explore ideas, and articulate views that help us to understand what is happening with marriage among young adults – us- today. We want to identify influences that may be negatively impacting our ability or desire to enter into lifelong love, and praise those influences that strengthen marriage, both socially and individually. We want to be able to better articulate why marriage is important- both to society and for individuals. And most of all, we want to support one another, as the next generation of leaders, stepping up to shape the public discourse and what marriage will be in our society for the next generation.
We invite your participation, thoughts, and writing. This is a space for careful consideration, hopeful optimism, new insights and ideas, and careful articulation. This is not a space for hand-wringing, heated rhetoric, empty threats, or overly simplistic labels. There are plenty of spaces for this kind of engagement elsewhere. We want to encourage measured, reasonable, helpful, well-researched, and thoughtful discussion.We want to help each other become the best instruments for good in strengthening and supporting marriage in the world.
So come get involved. Be a part of the social movement for good- the marriage movement- to restore the marriage culture among young adults by creating a positive social and intellectual climate for marriage.
We are young adults, age 18-30. We are educated and non-students, young professionals and unpaid interns, faithful Christians and those of various religious traditions. We are the leaders of the next generation. And together we can make a difference.