New generation of couples delays, and even dismisses, matrimony

At 36, Kristy Litz has watched most of her girlfriends marry and alight to the suburbs to start families.

But marriage is nowhere on Litz’s agenda. She wants children, and ideally a partner, but she has seen enough people divorce that she doesn’t see the point of walking down the aisle.

With a growing menu of socially acceptable living, mating and child-rearing arrangements to choose from, Litz is among the young adults wondering: Why marry at all?

“Marriage doesn’t seem to make life better,” said Litz, who works in operations management and enjoys being able to vacation, watch TV and go out with friends whenever she pleases. “I’m not saying love isn’t worth it, but I haven’t met anyone worth giving up my current life for.”

Over the past 50 years, marriage has slid from an economic and sexual necessity for women to an optional milestone, thanks to birth control and women in the workplace, plus, for both men and women, the waning stigma of singledom later in life. .

Married couples now represent less than half of American households, according to 2010 census data, down from 78 percent in 1950. A Pew Research Center survey published last year found that 52 percent of Americans were married in 2008, down from 72 percent in 1960, while the percentage of never-married Americans climbed to 27 percent from 15 percent. Meantime, the number of unmarried cohabiting couples has grown tenfold, the census shows.

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