As the United States is growing more diverse, people from different backgrounds are interacting and negotiating to bring new issues that are affecting marriage today. One of the contemporary issues that are affecting the family arena is the marriage. It is not yet clear in American society on issues such as who should be allowed to marry, either heterosexuals or homosexuals, expectations once married and steps that are followed in the marriage (Cherlin, 2009). This issue has led to the dropping of the importance of marriage. Gallup poll conducted early in last year indicates that the rate of marriage in US has dropped from 9.9 marriages per 1000 citizens in 1987 to 6.8 in 2011(Heath, Melanie 2012). Some of the issues that are affecting the marriage institution in US include substance abuse, divorce and separation, same sex marriage, interracial marriage, gender roles, cohabitation, serial monogamy, and domestic violence.
Substance abuse is one of the main issues that have caused the ripple effect on the marriage institution. According to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, rather than the abusers, the spouses are greatly affected by substance abuse (Cherlin, 2009). The substance abuse has affected the married couples in a sense that partners who are drugs or alcohol abusers are generally less happy than other partners with other marital problems are. For instance, in 2012, survey conducted on a population of 3.8 million people revealed that 16% of the population was binge drinkers couples while 9% were having a dependency on chemical substance.
The current US Census Bureau suggests that an estimation of more than half of the marriages in the country end up in divorce. It has become a common trend where the majority of these marriages are separating within the first 7 years (Heath, Melanie 2012). These break ups have been enhanced by various factors such as education, finances, age, lack of communication, and presence and absence of children. These factors have subjected marriage institution in the US to the turbulence, where many couples have divorced and separated due to these issues.
The same sex marriage is another issue that has increasingly generating hot debate in the American marriage institution. A significant number of individuals have opposed permitting homosexual men women to marry due to various reasons such as religion, natural order, homophobia and the issue of raising children (Phy-Olsen, Allene 2006). This kind of marriage has therefore faced by various challenges that are also complicating the general marriage institution in US.
Interracial and cultural differences are also challenging the today’s marriage institution in the United States. Spouses, who are from different cultural or religious origin, may have trouble in resolving definite held cultural issues concerning child-rearing, emotional expressiveness, financial management and family roles.
Domestic violence still harbors a major problem in the marriage institution in America. This violence includes marital rape, physical abuse, psychological and emotional abuse and financial or economical abuses (Balkin & Karen 2004). It is identified as a social problem by government and non-governmental organizations. Approximately, 3.2 men and 1.9 million women report being physically assaulted annually. Either current or a former spouse or cohabitating partner violates 22% women and 7.4% men.
Domestic violence has far reaching consequences these include injury, rape or murder. The national intimate partner and sexual violence survey report that 24 people per minute in the United States are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner (Balkin & Karen 2004).
The gender roles in the family have become less distinguishable. This is with the increased women employment unlike the early state f being homemakers. Women employment has resulted to poor parenting and the neglect to the aged (Cherlin, 2009). When both parents are in civil employment or in 8 hours daily employment, they have less time for their children. This leaves the children without parental guidance and they end up in immorality and drug abuse as witnessed with high rate of youth pregnancies and substance abuse.
Cohabitation in the United States has raised with college students and middle-aged adults the majority in this institution. Many cohabitating couples of white decent are unlikely to marry compared to the blacks (Cherlin, 2009). Though a certain percentage marries, cohabitation has affected the marriage institution negatively as their separation is not legally recognized. It is associated with high rates of domestic violence and divorce in later stages of marriage. It has poor parenting, as children raised in such institutions are socially immoral.
Serial monogamy has replaced polygamy and prostitution has risen. Easy access to divorce promotes serial monogamy. Though a big number of Americans do not support polygamy or cheating and prostitution, serial monogamy provide for the same indirectly (Cherlin, 2009). Research carried out show that that most of American have opted to remarry after divorce. Statistics show that most men have been in more than one marriage than women.
The marriage institution in the United States is at the spotlight due to the countless mishaps it experiencing. Divorce and separations in the society, with recent separation of the former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, demonstrating the institution is at the danger of collapse in all social classes (Cherlin, 2009). Immediate action should be taken to preserve and protect a precious institution that maintains human continuity, support, identity and solidarity.
Balkin, Karen. Violence against Women. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2004. Print.
Cherlin, Andrew J. The Marriage-Go-Round: The State of Marriage and the Family in America Today. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2009. Print.
Heath, Melanie. One Marriage Under God: The Campaign to Promote Marriage in America. New York: New York University Press, 2012. Print.
Phy-Olsen, Allene. Same-sex Marriage. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 2006. Print.