Marriage was once the pinnacle of a relationship. Everyone wanted the home with the white picket fence and children playing in the front yard. Both men and women got into relationships solely to get married, have children, and live happily ever after. This idea is still valid for some couples, but the number of United States homes with a married couple and kids has fallen to a new low, according to new government data. According to the Census Bureau, the share of the U.S.’s 130 million households headed by married parents with children under 18 fell to 17.88 percent in 2021 from 18.6 percent in 2020. These numbers had decreased from 40 percent in 1970.

The decrease in weddings could be because many couples chose to delay their marriages during the pandemic, and more adults don’t plan on having kids at all. The pandemic postponed many weddings over the last two years, but it also added six months to a woman’s age at her first marriage to 28 years old. In the 1950s and ’60s, women usually married at 20, and men married at 22. This new government data also shows only 231 million homes with nuclear families, the fewest since 1959.

Births have also been on a downslope as Americans get married later in life, which has also increased due to the pandemic. The CDC says that the U.S. fertility rate fell to 55.4 births per 1,000 in the second quarter from 58.5 in the same period of 2019. So why are fewer adults getting married and having children? It could be due to lifestyle changes. In the 1950s and ‘60s, women needed men to do just about anything in life. In modern times, women can be more independent and may not see the benefits of being married. The nuclear family was portrayed in just about everything, from advertisements to television. In the past, people looked down on single parents. So, the decrease in marriage could also be because more family types are accepted these days.

People are also waiting longer to get married because they want to experience more of life before settling down, which is acceptable these days. In the old days, couples married young because that was the norm and what their parents expected of them. In today’s times, people are getting married older because they want to see what the world has to offer before settling down. They want to travel more and experience more before getting married. Births were already on a decline, but they may have decreased more for the same reasons. People aren’t having children because they realize the immense responsibility of having children, and they don’t want to take on that responsibility.

Whatever the reasons that fewer people are getting married and having children, that shouldn’t stop you from getting married or having children if that’s what you want. If you feel in your heart that you’re making the right decision, then that’s all that matters. Love is the most significant theme of Christianity, so if love is why you want to get married and have children, then let love lead you to your happily ever after.

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