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Why Are Americans Choosing To Delay Or Flat Out Opt Out Of Marriage?

By Spencer AbelJuly 10, 2019Relationships
marriage decline in america

Americans just aren’t getting hitched like they used to.

But keeping the knot untied isn’t just trendy in America. 29% of Danish women between the ages of 35 and 45 are unmarried, just under 40% of Japanese males ages 35-39 have never wedded, and in Argentina, marriage rates are half of what they were in 1997. To reconcile Argentines’ love for wedding parties and plummeting marriage rates, fake weddings have become the en vogue way to party while remaining unmarried.

Marriage decline is real. In the US, one in six 40-year-old women are unmarried. But what’s the reason for this most unholy phenomenon? Are people really just too busy binging Netflix to get off their ass and meet someone? It turns out that while many a sociologist may claim to know why Americans aren’t wedding, they all differ on their reasons. There is a myriad of reasons why Americans opt out of marriage. In this article we’ll attempt to cover the primary reasons Americans are staying off their knees.


Choice Overload

I hate dinners. At a dinner you can order anything. Lobster, smoothies, steak, sushi, eggs, wraps, burgers, gyros, etc. If you can dream it, it’s probably on a dinner menu. But that’s the issue. Dinners give me choice paralysis. This overchoice –where too many options lead to unhappiness and decision avoidance- doesn’t just impact indecisive dinner-goers.

Americans today feel like the dating landscape has turned into a dinner. More people live in cities than ever before with 98 million Americans living in urban centers. Not only this but Americans nowadays travel more, move around more often, and are exposed to more people whether that be online or IRL. The myriad of choices have given us pause. FOMO is the fear of missing out. With so many options nowadays we’re more likely to delay entering into a serious relationship or marriage with someone for fear that a better suitor might swipe right on us later.

In 1932, sociologists poured through marriage licenses in Philadelphia and found that one-third of couples got married to someone that lived within a five-block radius of them before tying the knot. 12.64% of Philadelphians married in 1932 shared the same address before even getting married.

Dating apps can’t all be blamed for the perceptive of overchoice that stuns us into delaying or not marrying entirely. Nowadays we have more choices than ever before because of equality, both gender and racial. Both women and men now graduate and attend college at more or less equal rates.

Singles are also more receptive to date outside of their race than ever before. The fact of the matter is that we now have more social channels open that encourage meeting new people. Women now inhabit areas of life that were once male-dominated. A half a century ago a male was likely to meet his wife through church or in middle school. Nowadays there is any number of ways that two people can meet.

But while paralysis caused by overchoice is leading to marriage decline, it isn’t the only reason why college buddies stay roommates for longer.

Uncle Benji

The average cost of a wedding in the US is $29,200.

That’s just a few hundred less than what the average college graduate left college with in student debt in 2018 ($29,800). Millennials and the like are trying to climb out of the hole of debt they’re in. Getting married can feel akin to buying a new shovel –with money you don’t have- and digging even deeper.


Debt isn’t a minor nuisance that gets paid back in a few years like it did back when our folks went to school. 50% of all Californians are still paying back student loan debt. On average it takes a graduate with a BA 21 years to pay off their student debt.

Our folks had it easy. Less of them went to college and those that did weren’t bogged down by massive debt. They also didn’t have to pay back student loans accrued in the 21st century while on a 20th century paycheck.

Marriage should be viewed as a time when two youngish lovers can celebrate their love for each other. But with stagnated wages and steep debt, Americans are delaying matrimony or declining marriage outright.

In 2018, the median age of a male at the time of their first marriage was 29.8 years with women coming in at an age of 27.8. The number has consistently been pushed back since the mid-sixties when the median age of an American male when they first married was 22.8 in 1966 (20.5 for women).

If we take a look at those declining marriage we see a 13% decrease in the amount of Caucasian males that have been married since 1960. Sure there’s less money to go around, but regardless of the financial burden love always prevails right?

Changing Opinions On Marriage

Sure love might always prevail, but not necessarily marriage. And no, not only the most deeply in love get married. Today people are questioning if marriage is even necessary. Sure there are a wealth of benefits offered only to those that marry, but these financial benefits must be weighed against the cost of a wedding, rings, a possible divorce and other non-financial cons of marriage. To understand the changing viewpoint we must hop in our horse-drawn wedding carriage and travel back in time.

Marriage first gained popularity around 1300 CE. Prior to 1300 CE, it happened here and there but it was around this time when marriage really took off. As we’ve gleaned from many an animated Disney movie, from the longest time spouses didn’t wed because they loved each other but for sexless reasons such as forming alliances and financial motives.

The motivation to marry only became more intense as Christianity spread. It was St. Paul who said that the relationship between husband and wife is akin to the bond between Christ and church.

Yet as the religion decreases and women’s rights increase, we see marriage dying off. Women are no longer being used as pawns to strengthen family ties. Women now also have the ability to provide for themselves, thus not having to be supported financially by a partner. But the decision to delay or decline marriage isn’t one-sided. Men and women are leaving the bedroom door open as they explore types of relationships that don’t involve marriage.


1/5th of Americans have been involved in a non-monogamous relationship. While it’s difficult to find a reliable statistic that shows how many Americans believe monogamy is unnatural, we don’t quite need a direct poll to glean an answer.

A YouGov poll found that 32% of Americans between the ages of 18-44 would be open to their partner engaging in sexual relations with someone else. Numbers vary widely but on average 20% of men report to having cheated on their spouse when polled. The numbers indicate that monogamy is largely a relationship restraint that society has placed on the genitalia of Americans. Humans didn’t biologically evolve to be monogamous. Monogamy was only adopted by mainstream society about 10,000 years ago. Being that the modern human has been around for 200,000 years, it would seem odd that only recently did we adopt this behavioral practice that now seems so integral to who we are as humans.

With only 3-5% of mammals being monogamous, chances are that we don’t naturally fit into that category. Despite trying to put a square into a circular hole, Americans continue to marry, albeit less frequent than ever before.

Cause: Career First….Effect: Marriage Decline

Women marrying young used to be the status quo. They’d maybe graduate high school and then quickly marry someone who they either met in school or that lived in the same neighborhood. Between the years of 1947 and 1972, the median age of a woman when she first got married was 20. As more and more women went to school and found respectable paying jobs in the workforce, that number gradually increased.

Nowadays women not only earn the majority of 4-year degrees, but outnumber men in graduate school, 137 to 100. Since women now have an opportunity to advance within the workplace, career advancement now takes precedence over getting married.

Educated women see marriage as an impediment to their professional achievement. A marriage bogs you down financially due to wedding costs and perhaps the cost of purchasing a home and caring for a child should the couple do so. It also ties you down to certain people and places. A woman is much less likely to accept a position in San Francisco that offers a bump in pay if she already has deep roots NYC. Being single longer is proven to benefit women financially.

Women’s equality seems to be the main force driving marriage backward. As women now have more freedom, they’re delaying if not declining marriage altogether. At a time when Americans feel more lonely than ever it’s unsurprising that the most holy of unions is being overlooked. But just because many Americans feel lonely doesn’t mean you need to join the pity party. Most Americans don’t have what you do, a dating coach.

Perhaps you don’t have one yet, but you would if you knew the dating pro that you’d become just after a few 1-on-1 sessions. If you’re serious about bucking the marriage trend, enroll in EmLovz’s 3-month Signature Program.


It’s in this program you’ll learn of the various social channels you can mine for finding dates. You’ll also learn to employ the MegaDating philosophy, how to ask a woman out with a TDL, how to plan dates, etc. Want a hot date for next week? Book a new client session today to create a 360-degree dating plan.