TELL US: Young Men & Women and Their Views of Marriage: Headed in the Opposite Direction?

More young women care about marriage than 15 years ago; more young men do not. What do you think accounts for this significant shift?


Among the under-35 set, more women value a successful marriage; more under-35 men don't care.

That is one slightly startling data point to pull from a recent Pew Research Center study that compares views on career and marriage now to 15 years ago:


The share of women ages 18 to 34 who say that having a successful marriage is one of the most important things in their lives has risen nine percentage points since 1997, from 28% to 37%.

On the other hand, the share of young men ages 18 to 34 who say that having a successful marriage is one of the most important things has dropped from 35% in 1997 to 29% now. Today a significantly smaller share of young men (29%) than young women (37%) list marriage as one of their highest priorities; this represents a change from 1997, when men and women were statistically equal on this measure.


Are you surprised? I first stumbled across this while doublechecking a provocative opinion piece on foxnews.com called 'The War on Men.' A Huffington Post piece followed that, of course, took issue with what the original author posited.

So what do you think is happening here — what accounts for, in the past 15 years, so many more young men to not place much value on marriage, while so many more young women do? What accounts for this — and should we be concerned? Is there, in fact, a 'war on men'? Or is this natural shifting of gender roles and values that will shake out as men and women acclimate to new realities?

Carol Jamison December 14, 2012 at 12:00 PM
How does this particular shift equate to a war on men? There are so many other factors that most likely are at play here. Could it be the economy? Could it be that young men are more impacted by divorces between their parents? Could it be that young men are not so much needed in the "bread winner" role anymore, and it leaves them at a bit of a loss as to what their role in a marriage will/should be? Could it be that freedom is easier than relationships? Way, way, way too simple a question you are asking above!
Guest User December 14, 2012 at 03:46 PM
Synthetic estrogen from plastics ...
Karla Vallance December 14, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Carol, I fully agree with you, which is why I phrased it the way I did; steering away from the simplistic "war on men" angle of the Fox News piece, but asking: what do you think is contributing to this shift? I think all your questions are part of the answer, but I'm interested in hearing what more people think, too. Although I can't say I got much insight from Guest User ;)
Michael Fleming December 14, 2012 at 04:20 PM
Carol Good points all. I am of the opinion that the media downgrading of the male role in todays society has something to do with it. Men are routinely depicted as either ancillary to a relationship, or weak, an incompetent boob, an abuser or a drunk in many movies and tv shows. (Pay attention to this fact next time you turn on the TV or see a movie) Very few strong role models for men, but women are shown as the long suffering backbone of many families because studies show it is the women in the family that decides where to spend the family budget, and the media aims their plot lines towards that demographic. Don't want to anger the ladies towards our sponsors, do we? That in turn diminishes men, who learn from this politically correct bombardment that their participation is...optional.
Guest User December 14, 2012 at 04:32 PM
Is there any correlation in other types of commitments which women and men are making? Is this phenomenon specific to marriage?
Michael Fleming December 15, 2012 at 04:02 AM
Bottom line? Why buy the cow when the milk is free?
The guy December 15, 2012 at 09:04 PM
Men just want to work make money and have fun. Having fun with a woman and making love is great , but its not worth giving up your wealth to someone , and men are learning this. Marriage is a farce . When someone gets sick of someone just get divorced, that makes no sense . Young men learn this every day . Spend the money on your self and the new flavor of the month.
VG December 17, 2012 at 01:40 PM
As a woman, I can't speak from a man's perspective, but I would guess that the shift in their perception is related to a woman being more self-sufficient than in previous eras. I think men really do want to "take care of" a woman and find that sharing such a role is difficult. However, I'm surprised that the stats show such a big shift up in a woman's importance on marriage. I would have thought it would have gone down for the very same reason. For my part, marriage was never very important to me, but having a partner I could trust and love is. The marriage is just a formality we do for tax and other benefits. I honestly believe my relationship with my husband would be exactly as it is now had we never married, and we would still be happy, helpful and supportive of each other.


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