What We Know about Modern Marriage and Family in America

Getting married during the iconic 50’s was a pact that a couple was more likely to pursue and keep, though the reasons may have been based more on saving face then desire. A couple was likely to avoid a divorce of any kind. Marriage has dramatically changed its relevance and definition a lot though since then. Not only that, but the way we think of families has changed. With many divorcees still communicating and on good terms with former spouses, the idea of an absolute or limited divorce isn’t entirely off the table for unhappy couples. This has caused some to think marriage is nearing extinction, but that’s not entirely true. Read on for a clearer picture of how American matrimony is evolving.


In prior decades, a man and woman could find themselves getting married simply due to an unexpected pregnancy. Many were married under the pressure of social norms that have largely become obsolete. While having a child outside of marriage attracted negative attention and went against the grain of tradition, children today are just as likely to be born to parents joined by emotional as much as legal bonds

Related: Pew Research Center


Sex isn’t the secret that it was shrouded in during earlier stages in American life. There was a time when a pregnant unmarried female would be obligated to marry the father of her child to validate the fact that they were sexually active. Teens can get access to contraception on their own now, and it’s illegal for clinics or doctors to share details on their visits to their parents. Sex between singles has also lost the taboo that once led to fast or “shotgun” weddings

Related: Advocates for Youth


Divorce isn’t the same today as it was even a decade or two ago. Many couples who would have had miserable married lives and messy divorces are trying out different ways to try to make divorce not happen or to make the process less painful. Legal separation and limited divorces can make splitting up feel less drastic and more organic. Many couples are even living in different households living almost entirely independent lives from each other but staying married for legal, tax, and financial benefits. Couples today have more options than ever to try to resolve their marital woes, or to separate in a way that’s beneficial for all.

Related: Coover Law Firm


Living together without the stigma of being unmarried has become a popular option for young couples. While it may once have been only associated with just the laid-back culture of those in their twenties, however, it is increasingly becoming a choice that middle-aged couples are also exploring

Related: The New York Times

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender couples

Marriage is no longer the exclusive domain of heterosexual couples. Americans who identify as LGBT have won the constitutional right to be spouses in all 50 U.S. states. There are about 390,00 same-sex couples who have received marriage licenses in the U.S., according to recent data.

Related: Washington Post

While some may look at the nature of relationships today and conclude that marriage is nearing extinction, the picture those statistics reflect is far more complex. Many people are wanting to stay in marriages and start marriages for the security they provide, and the love they feel for their loved ones and family. Many are now aware of the negative habits or actions that can easily begin the long decline into divorce. Americans are continuing to pursue marriage licenses as well as have their relationships sanctioned in houses of worship. The truth is that marriage remains very much a part of daily life in America. It just looks very different.

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