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National Ex-Spouse Day & The Decline of Marriage

Marriage isn’t what it once was in the United States, for better or for worse.

The draw of joining two lives together has lost some luster when compared to years past. In fact, marriage rates are dropping nationally. According to a 2021 Pew Research Center study, the decline of marriage is becoming more prevalent as Americans are less likely to have sex, partner up and get married than ever.

Even when a couple does decide to tie the knot, not all marriages work out [4 Warning Signs That Can Predict Divorce + What To Do About It] and, if the dissolution isn’t amicable, it can leave lasting resentment and animosity while creating an overall negative projection of marriage itself.

To combat the disillusion generated by some broken unions, National Ex-Spouse Day, “celebrated every April 14th”, encourages those who are divorced to forgive their former spouse and move beyond any anger or spite that may remain. While those that do aren’t free from angst or regrets, the day motivates individuals by helping them focus on the positive aspects of their own lives.

The number of people wanting to get married is plummeting nationally. What could have caused this decline of marriage?

The national marriage decline is due to the working-age adult population realigning their priorities, e.g., on their careers and improving their finances. A recent article discussing this compared the marital rates of the working class to that of the retired age population marital rate. Their marital rate remained steady across the past few years at a rate of 60%.

This decline is likely to be associated with Americans having less value in the institution of marriage. By institution, meaning the religious ceremony of being joined in a place of worship. Traditionally, marriages have been celebrated in a place of worship with family and friends as witnesses to the couple’s union. Less value in the religious meaning of the celebration means that marriage is not necessary. People can live together plus get the benefits of joining together while improving their financial well-being.

A look at the numbers of marriage licenses given out in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana from 2000-2021. Source: Jefferson Parish Clerk of Court.

Locally in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, the number of marriage licenses given is on the rise. Why do you think it is different here? Do we still believe in the institution of marriage?

Jefferson Parish seems to buck the trend by interestingly showing an increase in the marriage rate. Thanks to the Jefferson Parish Clerk of Court, we were able to analyze data that showed an approximate 35% increase in recorded marriages that begin in 2016.

For our community specifically, we began focusing on rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina. As people returned to the Greater New Orleans area our priorities made a quick adjustment. Data source: Jefferson Parish Clerk of Court.

The research does suggest possible reasons for this. Age, education level, and income status are factors that have been repeatedly noted in forensic research on marriage rates. For example, Americans are more likely to partner with others who are in our same age group, have a higher educational level, and hold a higher income status.

Historically, three events occurred in 2015 that had an impact on the upwards trend of marital rates. Nationally, marriage equality for everyone became legal and the stock market began an increase. Joining investments with your legal partner meant improved financial stability and flexibility.

For our community specifically, we began focusing on rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina. As people returned to the Greater New Orleans area our priorities made a quick adjustment. Family mattered more than financial gains while federal dollars were poured into our community to assist with the rebuilding effort.

Marriage rates will continue to fluctuate over time depending on various factors. The solemn act of joining two lives together is as old as humanity itself, so it’s no surprise that how people perceive and utilize it continues to evolve.

Interestingly, Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, bucks the national trend of the decline of marriage rates by fulfilling an increasing number of marriage license requests. Photo by Eric Froehling on Unsplash.

What else should you know about Ex-Spouse Day and the decline in marriage rates?

Watch this video of family and marriage therapist Susan Harrington, founder of Maison Vie New Orleans, discuss the framework and perception of modern marriage. You can also contact us to see how we can help guide you through counseling sessions.