Marriage about more than finding soul mate: Column
From 2001 to 2011, the rate of single women getting married each year dropped by 22.8%, according to The Heritage Foundation's 2014 Index of Culture and Opportunity, released this month. Among the 18- to 33-year-old set, only 26% are married, the Pew Research Center reported in March.
Unfortunately, it's not just jewelers and wedding vendors who should be concerned by this trend. According to W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project, the marriage decline is contributing to income inequality and is hurting economic mobility. "Children whose parents fail to get, and stay, married to one another are more likely ... to run afoul of the law, to flounder in school, and to end up idle as adults," writes Wilcox in the Index.
So what's the solution? Well, as an unmarried 26-year-old, I know there's no "single" policy solution, although some could nudge people toward, not away from, marriage. Welfare and tax policy, for example, can include penalties that discourage marriage.
But all of the wonks in the world can't completely figure out the mysteries of love. We also need to shift our cultural imagination. We ooh and ahh over celebrity weddings, we swamp Pinterest boards with wedding dresses and flower arrangements, and when we do get hitched, we spend an average of nearly $30,000, according to TheKnot.com.
Nor do expectations end at the altar. A 2001 National Marriage Project survey found that 94% of single young adults wanted their future spouse "to be your soul mate, first and foremost."
Based on the cultural indicators since, little has changed. The Notebook, a 2004 movie that chronicled the tempestuous love of soul mates in the 1940s, has now become a bona fide classic. ABC's The Bachelor and The Bachelorette series, showcasing one contestant seeking a soul mate among 25 strangers, have run for a collective 28 seasons since 2002.
"Also helping to redefine marriage is what sociologists call the 'soul mate ideal,'" notes the 2013 Knot Yet Report. "With women more empowered to support themselves and marriage partially drained of its economic purpose, the young are inclined to focus on marriage's potential for deep emotional and sexual connection."
We shouldn't encourage young adults to settle. But we should also remind them you don't need to marry someone who is your everything — because even after marriage, you'll still have friends, family, neighbors and a host of other relationships to bring joy and meaning to your life. It's a radical message that just might help reverse the current trend.
Katrina Trinko, a member of USA TODAY's Board of Contributors, is managing editor for The Daily Signal. Her views do not represent The Heritage Foundation, her employer.read more： Yellow Bridesmaid Dresses