By America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts.
Okay, we are madly in love after all these years! We have been married for nearly 46 years and we cannot imagine life without each other. We are each other’s constant companions and wouldn’t want it any other way!
But we must admit, we often think about “all the lonely people” who are, in their advanced age, all alone. They have no one with whom to share their days and nights with. Worse yet, no one to share their advancing age with.
On a recent trip to our neighborhood Starbucks, we were struck by the number of people there who were by themselves. These weren’t old people with a dead spouse – they were people in their 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s who were accompanied by no one. They sat by themselves sipping their latte, reading the newspaper or a book, or checking their email.
In all the times we have gone to this bustling coffee shop we noticed the same thing, but never did anything about it until today. We decided to follow up our experience by sharing our thoughts about seeing so many lonely and alone people in one space.
Is this the new America? Is this the way it’s going to be in the 21st Century? The answers to these questions are worth pursuing we think.
We begin by asking this simple question – why are there so many people spending their days alone? Is it our imagination or are we truly on to some profound changes going on in our society?
It is clear—the number of those getting married in our society is declining. According to the University of Virginia study entitled The State of Our Unions 2010 marriage has been on the decline since the 1960’s.
For example, marriage today among white males and white females has dropped some 20% overall since the 60’s. The marriage decline is even more pronounced for black males during this same time frame where marriage is down 40% overall. And, even more dramatic is the marriage decline for black women where marriage is down over 50% since the 1960’s.
Part of the aforementioned decline is due to people getting married at an older age than in the 1960’s. People getting married at the ages of 15, 16, 17, and 18 is much less prevalent in our society today than it was in 1960, and that fact is a good thing.
While getting married later in life is a good thing that has lead to higher success rates in marriage, not getting married at all is not good for people and not good for America. The truth is that in the American middle class and among the African-American community, marriage is in trouble!
These are the five major conclusions one can draw from the University of Virginia study:
1. Marriage is an emerging dividing line between America’s moderately educated middle class and those with college degrees.
2. Marital quality is declining for the moderately educated middle but not for their highly educated peers.
3. Divorce rates are up for moderately educated Americans, relative to those who are highly educated.
4. The moderately educated middle is dramatically more likely than highly educated Americans to have children outside of marriage.
5. The children of highly educated parents are now more likely than in the recent past to be living with their mother and father, while children with moderately educated parents are far less likely to be living with their mother and father.
Their most stunning summary statement of the report reads as follows:
“So the United States is increasingly a separate and unequal nation when it comes to the institution of marriage. Marriage is in danger of becoming a luxury good attainable only to those with the material and cultural means to grab hold of it. The marginalization of marriage in Middle America is especially worrisome, because this institution has long served the American experiment in democracy as an engine of the American Dream, a seedbed of virtue for children, and one of the few sources of social solidarity in a nation that otherwise prizes individual liberty.”
Just imagine – the most fundamental and central component of American society – the glue of our socialization process for the total of American history (and for nearly 6000 years of recorded world history) – has been marriage. There has been no more important “glue” for the social structure of America than marriage. Any threat to the sanctity or importance of marriage between two people puts our society at risk.
In the end, we believe the University of Virginia should have added a 6th conclusion – there is great danger for the Republic when people in love choose to stay “single” and not make the commitment to marriage so prevalent in our history as a nation.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that the great societal traditions of America will continue without marriage. Don’t think that spending most of your life without someone is good for you or good for America. Everybody needs somebody. Of that you can be sure.
Marriage between two people who love each other has been an enduring element in the success of America from the beginning of our great country. There are many reasons to support marriage as an institution, but perhaps one of the most compelling reasons is this – you will not grow old by yourself.
In the end, it is of utmost importance to all of us to have someone who loves us, has our best interests at heart, commits to being our life’s companion, is our advocate, stays with us through thick and thin, and is there for us during the ending stages of our life.
We are reminded again of the lyrics from Neil Diamond’s 1972 song, Morningside – “The old man died. And no one cried. They simply turned away.” (Prophet Music, Inc. (ASCAP)).
No one wants to grow old alone. We would dare say that most everyone wants someone to be their companion when they grow old. To laugh with them while they live and cry for them when they die.
Why all the lonely people? Where do they all come from? All the lonely people, where do they all belong? (Eleanor Rigby, The Beatles, Capitol Records, 1966).
Don’t grow old by yourself. Life is too short to spend it alone. Go to Starbucks with someone you love today! Don’t join the ranks of all the lonely people.
By Dr. Charles D. Schmitz and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz
For hundreds of tips to enhance your relationship get the Doctor’s best-selling and multiple-award winning book Building a Love that Lasts: The Seven Surprising Secrets of Successful Marriage (Jossey-Bass/Wiley) Available wherever books are sold.
Winner of the INDIE Book Awards GOLD Medal for Best Relationship Book
Winner of the Mom’s Choice Awards GOLD Medal for Most Outstanding Relationships and Marriage Book
Nautilus Book Awards Winner for Relationships
As America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts and award-winning authors, Drs. Charles and Elizabeth Schmitz help international audiences answer questions about love, marriage and relationships. With over 30 years of research on love and successful marriage across six continents of the world and their own 46-year marriage, the Doctors know what makes relationships work.
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