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Love, Marriage and Relationships: A Teen Perspective

        Health | Marriage

Marriage is a hot topic, and part of defining when it is socially accepted to get married or to predict how long a marriage will last is to look at teen marriage. Teen marriage may be a concern for many parents, but you may be surprised to read teens' views on marriage in comparison to what you may think teens' views on marriage are.

In February 2002, President Bush asked Congress to earmark $300 million in the next welfare-reform law for states to develop programs that encourage two-parent married families.

But he may want to consult with the next generation to tie — or not tie — the knot before he puts the finishing touches on the nation's new marriage policy.

According to Changes in Teen Attitudes Toward Marriage, Cohabitation and Children, 1975 — 1995, from Rutgers University's, young adults today are not optimistic about the possibility of lifelong marriage.

"I Do," But Not "Till Death Do Us Part"

While the report found that 80 percent of high- school seniors expect to get married someday, only 61 percent believe they will stay married to the same person for life, compared to 65 percent in 1975.

Teens' growing disenchantment about lifelong marriage may stem from the fact they have personally seen few examples of happy marriages. In 1995, 32 percent agreed with the statement: "One sees so few good or happy marriages that one questions it as a way of life" — up from 26 percent in 1975. Those who disagreed or mostly disagreed with the statement fell to 42 percent from 53 percent.

It seems that every generation expands society's definition of acceptable lifestyle choices. Perhaps it's an outcome of the sexual revolution of the '60s; by 1995, some 59 percent of young adults believed that living together before marriage is a good way for a couple to find out if they are truly compatible.

Children: A High Priority

The majority of teens do consider having children and raising them a high priority, although 42 percent believe that couples who have children out of wedlock are "doing their own thing."

They are also tolerant of same-sex unions. A recent nationwide survey of 1,000 high-school seniors found 67 percent favor same-sex marriage and gay adoption. The survey was conducted by Zogby International.

The current cultural climate toward love and marriage is shifting.


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