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Old 01-16-2007, 09:51 AM   #1
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51% Of American Women

Are now living without a spouse, likely for the first time ever. What does that mean for our future, are we doomed? What would Dr. Laura have to say about this ominous development? I also recently read about some survey in which most still married women said they wouldn't marry the same person again if they had the choice.

NY Times

By SAM ROBERTS

For what experts say is probably the first time, more American women are living without a husband than with one, according to a New York Times analysis of census results.

In 2005, 51 percent of women said they were living without a spouse, up from 35 percent in 1950 and 49 percent in 2000.

Coupled with the fact that in 2005 married couples became a minority of all American households for the first time, the trend could ultimately shape social and workplace policies, including the ways government and employers distribute benefits.

Several factors are driving the statistical shift. At one end of the age spectrum, women are marrying later or living with unmarried partners more often and for longer periods. At the other end, women are living longer as widows and, after a divorce, are more likely than men to delay remarriage, sometimes delighting in their newfound freedom.

In addition, marriage rates among black women remain low. Only about 30 percent of black women are living with a spouse, according to the Census Bureau, compared with about 49 percent of Hispanic women, 55 percent of non-Hispanic white women and more than 60 percent of Asian women.

In a relatively small number of cases, the living arrangement is temporary, because the husbands are working out of town, are in the military or are institutionalized. But while most women eventually marry, the larger trend is unmistakable.

“This is yet another of the inexorable signs that there is no going back to a world where we can assume that marriage is the main institution that organizes people’s lives,” said Prof. Stephanie Coontz, director of public education for the Council on Contemporary Families, a nonprofit research group. “Most of these women will marry, or have married. But on average, Americans now spend half their adult lives outside marriage.”

Professor Coontz said this was probably unprecedented with the possible exception of major wartime mobilizations and when black couples were separated during slavery.

William H. Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution, a research group in Washington, described the shift as “a clear tipping point, reflecting the culmination of post-1960 trends associated with greater independence and more flexible lifestyles for women.”

“For better or worse, women are less dependent on men or the institution of marriage,” Dr. Frey said. “Younger women understand this better, and are preparing to live longer parts of their lives alone or with nonmarried partners. For many older boomer and senior women, the institution of marriage did not hold the promise they might have hoped for, growing up in an ‘Ozzie and Harriet’ era.”

Emily Zuzik, a 32-year-old musician and model who lives in the East Village of Manhattan, said she was not surprised by the trend.

“A lot of my friends are divorced or single or living alone,” Ms. Zuzik said. “I know a lot of people in their 30s who have roommates.”

Ms. Zuzik has lived with a boyfriend twice, once in California where the couple registered as domestic partners to qualify for his health insurance plan. “I don’t plan to live with anyone else again until I am married,” she said, “and I may opt to keep a place of my own even then.”

Linda Barth, a 56-year-old magazine editor in Houston who has never married, said, “I used to divide my women friends into single friends and married friends. Now that doesn’t seem to be an issue.”

Sheila Jamison, who also lives in the East Village and works for a media company, is 45 and single. She says her family believes she would have had a better chance of finding a husband had she attended a historically black college instead of Duke.

“Considering all the weddings I attended in the ’80s that have ended so very, very badly, I consider myself straight up lucky,” Ms. Jamison said. “I have not sworn off marriage, but if I do wed, it will be to have a companion with whom I can travel and play parlor games in my old age.”

Carol Crenshaw, 57, of Roswell, Ga., was divorced in 2005 after 33 years and says she is in no hurry to marry again.

“I’m in a place in my life where I’m comfortable,” said Ms. Crenshaw, who has two grown sons. “I can do what I want, when I want, with whom I want. I was a wife and a mother. I don’t feel like I need to do that again.”

Similarly, Shelley Fidler, 59, a public policy adviser at a law firm, has sworn off marriage. She moved from rural Virginia to the vibrant Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, D.C., when her 30-year marriage ended.

“The benefits were completely unforeseen for me,” Ms. Fidler said, “the free time, the amount of time I get to spend with friends, the time I have alone, which I value tremendously, the flexibility in terms of work, travel and cultural events.”

Among the more than 117 million women over the age of 15, according to the marital status category in the Census Bureau’s latest American Community Survey, 63 million are married. Of those, 3.1 million are legally separated and 2.4 million said their husbands were not living at home for one reason or another.

That brings the number of American women actually living with a spouse to 57.5 million, compared with the 59.9 million who are single or whose husbands were not living at home when the survey was taken in 2005.

Some of those situations, which the census identifies as “spouse absent” and “other,” are temporary, and, of course, even some people who describe themselves as separated eventually reunite with their spouses.

Over all, a larger share of men are married and living with their spouse — about 53 percent compared with 49 percent among women.

“Since women continue to outlive men, they have reached the nonmarital tipping point — more nonmarried than married,” Dr. Frey said. “This suggests that most girls growing up today can look forward to spending more of their lives outside of a traditional marriage.”

Pamela J. Smock, a researcher at the University of Michigan Population Studies Center, agreed, saying that “changing patterns of courtship, marriage, and that we are living longer lives all play a role.”

“Men also remarry more quickly than women after a divorce,” Ms. Smock added, “and both are increasingly likely to cohabit rather than remarry after a divorce.”

The proportion of married people, especially among younger age groups, has been declining for decades. Between 1950 and 2000, the share of women 15-to-24 who were married plummeted to 16 percent, from 42 percent. Among 25-to-34-year-olds, the proportion dropped to 58 percent, from 82 percent.

“Although we can help people ‘do’ marriage better, it is simply delusional to construct social policy or make personal life decisions on the basis that you can count on people spending most of their adult lives in marriage,” said Professor Coontz, the author of “Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage.”

Besse Gardner, 24, said she and her boyfriend met as college freshmen and started living together last April “for all the wrong reasons” — they found a great apartment on the beach in Los Angeles.

“We do not see living together as an end or even for the rest of our lives — it’s just fun right now,” Ms. Gardner said. “My roommate is someone I’d be thrilled to marry one day, but it just doesn’t make sense right now.”

Ms. Crenshaw said that some of the women in her support group for divorced women were miserable, but that she was surprised how happy she was to be single again.

“That’s not how I grew up,” she said. “That’s not how society thinks. It’s a marriage culture.”

Elissa B. Terris, 59, of Marietta, Ga., divorced in 2005 after being married for 34 years and raising a daughter, who is now an adult.

“A gentleman asked me to marry him and I said no,” she recalled. “I told him, ‘I’m just beginning to fly again, I’m just beginning to be me. Don’t take that away.’ ”

“Marriage kind of aged me because there weren’t options,” Ms. Terris said. “There was only one way to go. Now I have choices. One night I slept on the other side of the bed, and I thought, I like this side.”

She said she was returning to college to get a master’s degree (her former husband “didn’t want me to do that because I was more educated than he was”), had taken photography classes and was auditioning for a play.

“Once you go through something you think will kill you and it doesn’t,” she said, “every day is like a present.”
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Old 01-16-2007, 10:15 AM   #2
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you see what happens?

a Democratic Congress is elected, and women begin to choose lesbianism.






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Old 01-16-2007, 10:45 AM   #3
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I thought that was because they weren't asked by a real man so far?
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Old 01-16-2007, 11:49 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511
you see what happens?

a Democratic Congress is elected, and women begin to choose lesbianism.








i couldn't have said it better
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Old 01-16-2007, 12:00 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by Vincent Vega
I thought that was because they weren't asked by a real man so far?
I can't tell if you're kidding?
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Old 01-16-2007, 12:04 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511
you see what happens?

a Democratic Congress is elected, and women begin to choose lesbianism.










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Old 01-16-2007, 12:12 PM   #7
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it's because men have been feminized by the liberal agenda that seeks to destroy things like God and family and the Pledge of Allegiance.

if all you've got around you are feminine men, why not just go for the genuine article and go for women?
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Old 01-16-2007, 12:42 PM   #8
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I can't tell if you're kidding?

http://forum.interference.com/showth...6&pagenumber=3

Irvine's post
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Old 01-16-2007, 12:49 PM   #9
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http://forum.interference.com/showth...6&pagenumber=3

Irvine's post
ok

I read a book about this a while back. How many women are happier after divorce, so it would make sense that as younger women see that they don't bother with the wedding to begin with.
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Old 01-16-2007, 12:50 PM   #10
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ok

I read a book about this a while back. How many women are happier after divorce, so it would make sense that as younger women see that they don't bother with the wedding to begin with.
This is my plan.
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Old 01-16-2007, 12:51 PM   #11
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Women would be a lot happier if they married me.
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Old 01-16-2007, 12:55 PM   #12
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Women would be a lot happier if they married me.


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Old 01-16-2007, 01:13 PM   #13
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Let's see, is it worth my time responding seriously here?

I think it's a little hard to comment intelligibly on what stuff like this "means for the future" because that depends on which potential consequences you're looking at and whose perspective you're considering; a 40-year-old woman who's never been married but would like to be may take a different view than a divorced 55-year-old mother of three, a relationship counselor may see things differently than a child welfare specialist, a 45-year-old man going through his second divorce may not see eye-to-eye with a 29-year-old guy just out of grad school. Generally people who regard these kinds of findings as prima facie "bad" are looking at it from the standpoint of marriage as a basis for childrearing--something the article hardly mentions at all.

"A larger share of men are married and living with their spouse" is presented somewhat somewhat misleadingly, in that they don't mention that the share of men who have never been married is also (still) higher. It's more that there are fewer men than women in the "divorced, but never remarried" category. More men than women still live alone at all age cohorts under 45. In the case of some groups mentioned, African-Americans in particular, a low sex ratio (number of men per 100 women) may also be relevant.

Strangely, the number of women married as teenagers actually increased between the last two censuses, the only age cohort for which that figure didn't decline.

I suspect it may be true that women who marry young and divorce after about 40, especially if they've had children, are less likely than men to feel pressure to "prove" themselves by getting remarried. Of course there's also the oft-made explanation that it's simply harder for women that age to find partners. But those are topics for another survey...

The survey you mentioned having heard about was an online survey of about 3000 women conducted by Woman's Day magazine, which, unsurpisingly, wasn't exactly scientific. Besides the fact that a lot of the questions (and answers; it was multiple choice) are fluffy and silly, internet surveys in general tend to have major "ascertainment bias" problems, meaning the sample isn't random--e.g., it might attract a nonrepresentative age demographic, or respondents with a 'chip on their shoulder'--and thus you have to employ adequate controls to account for that effect on results, which so far as I can tell they didn't do at all.

Anyhow, to judge from the news articles I came across while Googling for it, the two big attention-getters from that survey were "If you had to do it all over, would you marry your husband again?" (44% yes, 36% no, 20% not sure) and "Have you ever fantasized about a man other than your husband?" (76% yes, 19% 'no, not interested in other men', 3% 'no, that's unfaithful'). Personally, I'm amazed the latter response was even considered newsworthy, but I can see why the former was, although since there weren't any follow-ups to the question it's a little hard to know what to make of it. IMHO, it's not *necessarily* bad news for the spouses of those who replied 'not sure'--'no' presumably indicates active dissatisfaction (with the person, the condition of being married, or both) which if chronic is likely a bad sign; but, considering how many people enter marriage holding unrealistic notions like the "ideal (wo)man" whose perfection ensures there won't ever be any major hitches, 'not sure' might simply reflect an honest coming to terms with the fact that that just isn't reality. It's not a question of "There's absolutely no one else alive who could make me as happy!" (almost certainly not true) but more of finding someone with whom you can make a way of life you both want and are committed to, work out rewardingly and--most of the time--happily for both.
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Old 01-16-2007, 01:40 PM   #14
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Everyone except me in my immediate family has been married and divorced (one twice of each). I figure I'll just skip all the drama and stay single.

It's working well so far.
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Old 01-16-2007, 02:25 PM   #15
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My wife has already married me twice (its a Catholic thing). Poor girl, I wonder which time she regrets more.
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