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Friday, June 14, 2024 - 08:47 PM


First Published in 1994


The Value of Marriage

A cornerstone is the rock upon which a building is built; the cornerstone joins two walls together to form a single unit. Marriage is a cornerstone that brings together a man and a woman to build a family and join their lives together.

Today, fewer than half of Americans are married. Instead of seeing the commitment of marriage as an important building block, young Americans think that marriage is a capstone — which is the last block placed in the building. They are delaying marriage while they wait for career success.

What is the consequence of changing marriage from cornerstone to capstone? Money. A lot of money. Unwed couples are missing out on the opportunity to build not just their lives, but also family wealth.

Nearly 60 percent of young Americans are in relationships that are living together without the commitment of marriage. The old adage, "two can live cheaper than one" is true, but one married couple actually has much more money in the bank.

Here is the key number: cohabitating couples have only 25 percent of the net worth that married couples have in the same age group. (Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis found that in 2019 for the ages 25-34: cohabiting couples had $17,372 but married couples had $68,210 in net worth.)

Turns out that the marriage license is much more than a piece of paper. The emotional commitment in the marriage vow is a driver of success. Marriage actually means "for richer for richer"; it is the unmarried couples who get the "for poorer" part. Plus, many other riches, in addition to money, come with marriage.

Humans desire to forge a bond with another. Those in successful marriages know that their bond with another person is far more important than any career goal. Unfortunately, this key to human happiness has been lost on young Americans who are motivated to live together.

All of society suffers from instability when marriage rates drop. Maybe the hard reality of cold cash can reverse this troubling culture that undervalues the beauty of marriage.