Mate or Marriage?

Sex Views Harmful, Study Says

Young adults still value marriage, but their views on sex aren’t setting them up for marital success, according to a report by the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University.

“Young singles today are in a mating culture that is oriented to low-commitment, low-trust relationships rather than to finding a marriage mate.” said Dr. Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, who along with Dr. David Popenoe authored Sex Without Strings, Marriage Without Rings.

“Sex is commonplace, taken for granted, an ordinary part of the mating culture,” Whitehead said. “But love is hard to find.”

Indeed, living together with one or more partners before marriage has become the most common trend for non-college young adults. Yet far from being a good way to prepare for marriage, the evidence suggests living together is detrimental, Whitehead said.

“There’s no evidence that living together before marriage will improve or give you chances of a more successful marriage,” she said. “And there’s some evidence that it actually increases your risk of divorce.”

Glenn Stanton, author of the book, Why Marriage Matters, said the study reveals the ambivalence with which young adults view marriage.

“I think that they see sex and marriage as two entirely different realms,” said Stanton, explaining that young adults seem to be “agnostic” about marriage — liking the concept, but unsure if it can ever really exist.

Whitehead and Stanton said the trend can be reversed if, beginning at a young age, parents would help their children set goals and shape their expectations.


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