Marriage Down, Dystopia Up

The number of people age 25-34 who have never married has surpassed the number who are married for the first time in a century. The Chateau prophesied multiverse rupture continues imploding right on schedule.

Among all people over age 18, the number of married couples fell 5 percentage points from 2000 to 2009, a mere nine year span. (The importation of “family values” peasants by the millions from Mexico likely contributes to this trend. ¡No, no podemos!)

Among the total population 18 and older, the share of men and women who were married fell from 57 percent in 2000 to 52 percent in 2009 — again, the lowest percentage since the government began collecting data more than 100 years ago. The share of adult women who were married fell below half, to 49.9 percent.

Naturally, the New York Beta Times frames the Census data as evidence that the recession is discouraging people who really, truly do want to get married from doing so. But the chart they include puts the lie to their spin.

Marriage has been in decline since 2000, well before the current economic unpleasantness. A bad job market is simply accelerating an already established trend.

The real reason for the continuing abandonment of marriage?

Two factors contribute to the decline in marriage among adults ages 25 to 34, said Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins University: less marriage and more cohabitation, which has become far more socially acceptable, even with children.

Less marriage — duh. Don’t hold back, Mr. Cherlin. What’s really on your mind?

Cohabitation. Sure. Why buy the cow, etc.

Dismantling of societal shaming mechanisms. Yes, true. Shame is a powerful motivator, particularly of women’s behavior, as women are herd animals whose greatest fear is deviating from the norms.

But there are other, deeper reasons why marriage is being treated like the plague by men who are finally wising up.

But Mr. Greiner says the talk of economics may be cloaking the primary issue. “It’s more a fear of intimacy and fear of marriage,” he said.

This therapyspeak needs a truthifying translation:

“It’s more a fear of divorce theft, fat wives, screaming brats and gradual sexual impoverishment.”

There, FTFY.

(Yes, one study has shown married people have more sex than singles, but that study has to be put in a context that matters — it needs to compare married people to single alphas, not just to any old single. The celibate betas and omegas drag down the average. No doubt a proper comparison would show that single men who are good with women get a lot more sex — and higher quality sex — than married men who have been married for longer than three years.)

According to the federal data, the share of young adults who have never married climbed from 35 percent at the start of the decade to 46 percent in 2009.

The indicators are starting to pile up that America is without doubt an empire in steep decline.

There have long been large racial differences in marriage rates, with blacks far less likely to marry than whites, but that difference has been shrinking as cohabiting becomes more popular with whites, Dr. Cherlin said.

Class imitation inversion. It used to be the lower classes strived to be more like the upper classes. Now, the reverse is happening.

And many young adults, he said, are postponing marriage rather than forgoing it altogether.

When it doesn’t much matter anymore. Men aren’t the only ones running from marriage. While women want to be married more than men do, they are being encouraged to postpone nuptials by men’s intransigence as well as by their own temptation to play the field far longer than their predecessors did in the past. The Four Sirens of the Sexual Apocalypse (now with a Fifth! Status jockeying!) explain these choices very well.

Mr. McElroy in Atlanta said he would definitely start thinking about a wedding once he gets a new job and the economy picks up.

“Not very romantic, is it?” he said with a laugh.

Modern Western marriage has its foundation in companionate love, and yet it has morphed into an institution without a shred of romance. There’s a lesson there.

Marriage version 2010 is like a speeding bullet. It isn’t courage, or duty, or manly obligation to stand in its path and take one for the good of society.

It’s stupidity.

(Some may wonder how dedicated hedonists like those who lounge idly on the Chateau piazza could note the connection between a healthy marriage institution and a country’s well-being. As has been noted here many times, what is good for the individual is not necessarily good for society. Materialism and scientism have elevated individuation. Those of us without the shackles of a higher calling or ethical compunction extract the last ounce of advantage from this transcendental individualism, while the organism as a whole slowly unravels sinew by sinew.)

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