Men raised by Ward and June Cleaver and who had a bit of religion growing up are more likely to marry than men from godless, broken homes, according to a recent report by researchers who annually take the pulse of the American marriage.
If you haven't seen this in newspaper headlines, it might be because even the researchers weren't surprised by this news.
"I think we could have predicted these results," said David Popenoe, who, along with Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, directs the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University.
"This is the kind of thing my parents always told me."
The not-very-surprising findings, released late last month, are based on interviews with 1,000 single and married heterosexual males between ages 25 and 35 and included in "The State of Our Unions, 2004."
"The findings suggest that the experience of growing up with both parents is an important factor influencing young men's desire for, and confidence in, marriage," Popenoe said.
"Women, if anything, are more desirous of marriage and of having a child. They are more likely to want to get married earlier and have a child earlier.
"It's the guys who are dragging their feet."
"Women were driving the boat 25 years ago," Popenoe says. "Now it is driven more by men."
Fifty-five percent of men in their 30s say they don't want to get married any time soon. They want their freedom.
As in previous surveys, men are saying they want a soul mate, the woman with the perfect chemistry to complete them.
And they are taking their time finding her.
The median age of marriage for men was 23 as recently as 1970. Today, it is closer to 27 -- and even older for college-educated men.
There are economic reasons for this, the researchers wrote in their report. It takes more education and more work experience to acquire the financial resources for a family.
But there is another reason as well. Marriage once was the gateway to adulthood. It is now the last stop in what is called "adultescence."
In addition, young men face few, if any, negative consequences to delaying marriage.
On the contrary, they have attractive alternatives to marriage, the report said.
That includes a singles culture that glorifies young men and accommodating young women, willing to provide sexual and domestic benefits without marriage.
"There is no reason for them to get married," said Popenoe of young men.
"It's that old saying about 'Why buy the cow when you are getting the milk for free?' Women can change that dynamic, but they don't seem to want to."
None of this is good news for kids. Many of the single men in the Rutgers sample already had children, but they did not feel compelled to marry as a result. "And men are not thinking about children when they consider marrying," Popenoe said.
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