Relationships are an area that feels both thoroughly explored and, at the same time, enigmatic, especially as cultural values shift. The contributing factors to a long lasting union are far more complex than just falling in love with “the one.” An article by Time explores how socioeconomic status impacts likelihood that someone will get married, and that, while divorce rates may be dropping in the U.S., it’s because the group of people getting married is more privileged.1
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The divorce rate has decreased 18% since the 80s.2 Millennials are more cautious when it comes to marriage; they are marrying later, being more particular with the partner they choose, and waiting to achieve financial stability before tying the knot.3Many people are not getting married at all. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2019 38% of adults age 25 to 54 are unpartnered compared to 29% in 1990.4 The number of Americans who have never married is increasing – about 50% of American adults are single compared to 22% in 1950.5
Sociology professor at New York University, Eric Klinenberg, explores the lives of happily single people. He sites some reasons people opt to be single, such as holding out for a soul mate, focusing on other priorities, and even cultivating a preference for the solitude and control of living on your own. While some may say that this is narcissistic, Klinenberg states individuals who live alone engage more in volunteer activities and spend time with neighbors and friends. 5
The meaning and satisfaction we derive from our lives in influenced by factors beyond a partner. According to the Pew Research Center, a spouse or partner was listed as one of four areas associated with high life satisfaction. The other areas were health, friends, and career. While a spouse or partner can increase life satisfaction, there are other areas of life that also create meaning for us.6
Sarah Tronco, LCSW, provides online counseling in New Jersey and works to develop a strong therapeutic relationship with her clients, which helps to create a secure place where individuals can achieve meaningful change.
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