Since the colonial days, marriage has been an important institution in American culture. By a certain age, marriage was not only heeded to, but expected of young couples.

However, recently Americans’ views on marriage have changed.

A recent study published in the journal Family Relations revealed that American marriage rates are at an all time low due to concerns about the consequences of a possible divorce. Approximately 67 percent of the study’s participants said they worry about divorce— a reasonable fear, considering the American divorce rate is close to 41 percent.

According researchers at Cornell University and the University of Central Oklahoma, another deterrent to the rate of marriage in America is the increasingly popular belief that a marriage is nothing but a “piece of paper.”

Some young people, especially those in the working class, believe that pop culture and the overall change in social norms has made unmarried households so accepted, that marriage seems unnecessary.

A Pew Research Center found unmarried households made up 44 percent of all U.S. households in 2010 with 40 percent of study participants believing that marriage is obsolete.

The study in Family Relations also proved that economics affects overall opinion of marriage. Lower-income women in particular expressed concern about the binding nature of a marriage. Many of them worried that once they tied the knot, they would be financially dependent on their husbands and therefore, stuck with them.

With that being said, the institution of marriage is not dead.

Couples who do get married now tend to be older, which could aid the number of successful, happy marriages long-term. According the Pew Research Center, the average age of marriage was 28 for men and 26 for women in 2010, a five-year increase since 1960.

Experts agree that waiting to get married allows young people to know more about what they need for the marriage to be happy, resulting in more positive unions.

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