Seth Freed Wessler, writing for nbcnews.com, charges the economy with the low percentages of married young people and the rapidly diminishing institution of the American middle-class family. As industrial and professional jobs for men that paid a living wage 50 years ago have dried up, Wessler asserts that those of traditionally marriageable age no longer give marriage a high priority, since marriage no longer secures financial stability.
In his article, Mr. Wessler uses the real-life and current example of a young couple with a child who have not married, in order to show that the economic pressures brought to bear on them have caused them to make other choices than marriage and the traditional family. He quotes the couple and recounts their experience.
Michael Bridges and Laura McCann had a longstanding relationship. McCann came up pregnant, and delivered their baby a few months after McCann finished college. Today, they are still not married. In fact, they separated two years after the baby was born.
Statistics cited by Mr. Wessler are undoubtedly true. Marriage rates are down, when compared to 1960. Births of children to unwed parents are up. Most young couples are choosing to bypass marriage and jump directly into having kids, or avoiding both marriage and procreation. The question, however, is whether the economy can be blamed, or must we look to the erosion of morals and values.
While couples having babies today are often not staying together, would it still not behoove them to do so economically? The Earned Income Credit is not enough on which to live for a year, and even though the mother may no longer stay home full-time, are two incomes still not more than one? Does it not cost less to house two adults in one apartment than in two apartments?
The answer, regrettably, is an erosion of our values. After the baby was born, and the responsibility to its care established, McCann was quoted as saying: “We weren’t going to stay together just because we were together, if it wasn’t the right thing”.
Again, the article does not give the causes of the couple’s choice to separate. The undertones suggest possible disenchantment with each other or a desire to move in different directions. However, in the absence of abuse or infidelity, how could staying together not be the right thing? The question is one of perspective and priority.
Until the real issues are addressed, society will continue its march towards the increased barbarism and unravelling of civilization that loom inevitably before us, and away from chewed-up-and-spit-out traditional family in the trail behind us.