Which Men Are Marrying and Why?

The US mainstream society today, there has been a steady decrease (40 percent) of marriage annually from 1970 to 2002. The declining marriage rates have reached federal concerns in the past few years with US Congressional committee hearings taking place. As a part of the process toward welfare reform, a study published by the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University , United States explores the state of men and marriage in the United States . A national survey was carried out on male heterosexuals aged 25 to 34. Below are some of the findings. 

Unmarried Men

The survey found that men today are less likely to consider marriage as a process towards adulthood and building a family than in the past. The reasons for delaying or avoiding marriage given ranged from:

  • 74% wanted to have fun and freedom.

  • 46% felt the demands of work make it difficult.

  • 47% felt that they were not financially buoyant enough to establish a home.

  • 40% wanted to hold a nice wedding.

  • 36% felt that the single life held more interest.

  • 22% felt that the idea of marriage was good for others, but not for them.

  • 60% did not trust women to tell the truth about previous relationships.

  • 66% were worried about divorce.

  • 70% felt that it was acceptable for a woman to have a baby on her own.

  • 29% did not want children.

  • 62% feared loss of personal freedom.

Men Likely to Get Married

It was found that men from traditional or religious backgrounds hold positive views towards women and children and were therefore more likely to get married. Men who grew up with both parents, whose fathers participated in their upbringing or held religious values, were more likely to get married, contrary to 55% who were not. Among the married men surveyed, 63% had been living with both their parents at 15 years of age, unlike 55% of unmarried men.

  • 83% of married men agreed they got married when they were ready to settle down.

  • 35% of men surveyed got married when they were ready to have children

  • Reason for Getting Married

  • It was found that 53% of men who were ready to get married had fathers who were actively involved in their upbringing.

  • In their choice of spouse, 75% looked for a woman who would be a good mother.

  • A majority of young men were seeking a “soul mate” to fulfill their emotional, sexual, and spiritual desires, as well as to share in providing financial stability.

  • Married Men

  • 94% of married men said they were happier being married than single.

  • 73% of married men said that their sex life was better in marriage.

  • 68% said that marriage had helped them to become financially stable.

Percentage of Persons Age 35 Through 44 Who Were Married by Sex, 1960-2003, United States 























Source: US Bureau of the Census, Statistical Abstract of the United States, 1961, Page 34, Table 27; Statistical Abstract of the United States, 1971, Page 32, Table 38; Statistical Abstract of the United States, 1981, Page 38, Table 49; and US Bureau of the Census, General Population Characteristics, 1990, Page 45, Table 34; and Statistical Abstract of the United States, 2001, Page 48, Table 51; internet tables (www.census.gov/population/socdemo/hh-fam/cps2002/tabA1-all.pdf) and data calculated from the Current Population Surveys, March 2003 Supplement.

*Figure for 2003 was obtained using data from the Current Population Surveys rather than data from the census. The CPS, March Supplement, is based on a sample of the US population, rather than an actual count such as those available from the decennial census. See sampling and weighting notes at http://www.bls.census.gov:80/cps/ads/2002/ssampwgt.htm


The report on the survey pays attention to the issue of fertility. In America in the 1880s, approximately 75% of households had children (under 18) as compared to 33% in 2000. There has been a sharp drop in the birth rate since the 1960s, and an increase in the 1980s and 1990s has been as a result of immigrant population. The report therefore concludes that adults are less likely to be living with children and children are less likely to be a consideration in daily life. Of the men surveyed:

  • 75% of married men felt that children should be brought up in a religious home.

  • 59% of unmarried men felt that it is not important for children to be brought up in religious homes.

  • Two-thirds of married men surveyed did not see children as the focus of a marriage.


“Finishing schooling, obtaining full-time employment, and being financially independent” are now the sequence of events in the move towards adulthood, when in the past marriage was the primary and important step towards adulthood, states the report. “For men, even more than for women, marriage is a transformative event. Getting married tends to change men’s behavior in notable and predictable ways. When men marry, they begin to lead healthier and more productive lives. They work harder and do better financially than men who are not married. They are less likely to hang out in bars, to abuse alcohol or drugs or to engage in illegal activities. They are more likely to spend time with relatives and to be involved in religious and community activities. Their sex lives are better. They are more responsible and involved fathers.” Wives take care of the health of their husbands and provide emotional support, stability, and a financial advantage if they work outside of the home. However, among men looking for their perfect partner in life, the survey deduces that the process of constantly looking for the ideal partner may lead to dissatisfaction with a current girlfriend in the hope for a better one. The report also considers the factor of the pornography industry and its role in creating the “soul-mate/babe” as an ideal that can never be realized.