It has been reported many times before that the ‘traditions of marriage are dead’.  Whilst there is no doubt that marriage has changed over the years – in society and in law – perhaps ‘dead’ is a little too strong a word.

What is clear, is that some of the old views toward marriage are indeed dead.  It might be unthinkable now, but several decades ago, unmarried pregnant women could find themselves in ‘hostels for unmarried mothers’.  Compare that to today when over half of the births to women under the age of 30, happen outside of marriage*.  Or spare a thought for those people who chose to remain single in the 1950s but were considered “immoral” and “neurotic” by the majority of society (according to an American survey conducted in 1957).

Now, thankfully, we live in a very different society where the views towards marriage and relationships are much more relaxed.

But that doesn’t mean all marital traditions are dead.

Earlier this year, the Journal of Adolescent Research published its findings from a survey of American students’ views of marriage.  The intention being to establish the views of the next generation of newlyweds. The results suggest that actually, some of the old traditions still live on.  For example, over two thirds of the students surveyed – male and female – still wanted the man to propose marriage.  In fact, not one single male student said he would want to be proposed to by his future wife.

Likewise, the majority of male and female students still wanted to keep with tradition and use the man’s name.  There was some variation of views on this issue, but still, 60% of the female students would prefer to take the man’s name and 60% of the male students wanted to keep their own name.

Interestingly, the most common reasons the students gave for their answers fell into the category of ‘adhering to gender-role traditions’.

So perhaps some of the traditions of marriage are still going strong.  More importantly however, we are now much freer to choose which traditions we uphold.


*Child Trends analysis of Government statistics relating to childbirth in America.

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