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According to Tucker & Mitchell-Kernan (1989), since the mid-1980s, the marriage institution has encountered alarming changes. Unlike in the medieval period when marriage was highly praised and people ventured in marriages at a young age today in the United States people are venturing into marriage at a later age. The divorce rates are on the rise and the number of children raised by single parents continues to increase. Women traditionally felt obligated to be married in their twenties but this notion has changed while the number of women in charge of the household alone has increased by 50 % (Tucker & Mitchell-Kernan, 1989). Changes in marriage have been registered across all Americans however; the trend seems higher among black Americans. In the paper, causes for the decline in the marital status among African Americans will be discussed, and possible interventions that can be implemented to reduce the high number of marital declines.
In black American society, marriages began a tremendous decline in the 1980s, an era when black men experienced high unemployment. In this period, black women experienced a deficit in marriageable black men. The industries demanded skilled men and in the same period, the racial disparity was at its peak. Most black men were no skilled hence they faced unemployment at the same time due to racial differences most black men were jailed, giving more opportunities to white men compared to blacks. Due to unemployment and a large number of imprisonments, among black Americans, most black women were left with no marriage suitors. The problem of incarceration and unemployment among black American men exists up-to-date. A good example in 2000, over one-third of black American men age 18 -30, a majority who did not attend college was jailed. Those aged 40 and above had higher cases of imprisonment than those who had attained a bachelor's degree (Raley, et al., 2015). The high number of incarceration left many women raising children alone and unemployment drove women into seeking a better education and begun competing in the same job markets as men and this saw many women find value in leaving and raising children alone, pursuing education and careers rather than being married.
Most black Americana women continue to show interest in men who are more educated. In the Africa American community, the number of educated young women is higher than that of men. The low numbers have narrowed the number of suitors for the young and educated African Americans women, which has affected the women's desire for marriage. In 2010, when the research was done among black American women many women said that the character of men they were looking for marriage was least available among black American men. For example, two-third of black women said that a suitable husband has to have a good income, over 55% said a good male partner needed to have better education and more than half agreed that financial stability should be a precondition met before marriage(Raley, et al., 2015). In the low-income community, such as the black American community, which is still struggling with issues of poor education, and unemployment it, is difficult to meet have the characteristics black American women demand. A study by Raley, et al., (2015) shows that high unemployment was related to low marriages while the majority of educated and employed men among the black American community were married. Black women also have lower rates of interracial marriages. According to Raley, et al., (2015), black men are open to marrying other races compared to their sisters and this has left many black American women unmarried.
To understand causes for the decline in the marriage and family institution an economic approach is evaluated. According to Murry (1997), Gary Becker suggested the production of complementary theory. The theory argues that husband and wife are partners in the market and domestic production, meaning they are more productive when together than apart. The theory also explains the advantages of childbearing and rearing of their children in a family. The production complementary theory was reproductive in explaining production in family setting but as time lapsed and modern families emerged the theory becomes increasingly inapplicable. In a modern setting, most black Americans opt for a longer waiting period before childbearing also there are rising cases of infertility. Most adults spend most of their life without children of their own in marriages and many marriages are forming at a later age when partners are old and have no intention of bearing children, which is also caused by remarriages. The change in women's labor forces has also changed household specializations as women role of childbearing and taking care of the house.
Household production has also been affected by emerging modern technology, which has eased labour at home. There has been the development of service industries and things that were once produced in a family setting can now be produced in factories and purchased in markets. Traditionally people come together through marriage to assist each other in the production of home services and together they raised children but this is no longer important as those services that brought couples together in the family can be bought in the market, an economic reason explaining declines in marriages in the black American community.
In modern, society research as brought about new conceiving methods and reproduction control. The use of contraceptives, embryonic insertion for pregnancy, and abortion have altered definitions, meaning, and reason for marriages. The emergence of modern medicine has altered the importance of sex in marriage. Since the 1970s, divorce and premarital sex continue to be accepted in almost all races and this has affected negatively the notion of marriage and its importance. People change in divorce attitude created acceptance in divorces (Raley, et al., 2015). the change in the marital laws encouraged divorce without bargain, which has destroyed the importance of marriage and definition of household economic reproduction. For a marriage to stand relevance today people have to redefine marriage beyond child reproduction and the traditional idea of household specialization. Also, acceptance of divorce and premarital sex caused delayed in marriages and people find it normal to cohabit with no lifetime commitment. In addition, marriage and divorce have translated to private concerns and not societal issues giving more reason for black Americans not to engage in marriages for it is not a requirement but a personal decision.
Intervention that Might be Viable in Decreasing Marital Dissolution in African American Marriages
Although African American marriages are on the decline the society, church and policymakers should come up with reasonable interventions to save African American marriages and increase the number of legal marriages compared to cohabitations. Some of the measures to implement include marital preparation. According to Gregory (2019), marital preparation is an approach that can be used to increase marriage satisfaction among spouses, reduce divorce rates by increasing commitment in marriage and to a spouse, and create sustainable marriages. Marital preparation includes the education of spouses on the meaning, purpose, and implication of marriages. Counsellors, religious leaders, and elderly people who have been in the institution of marriage for years can be involved in marital education. Since pre-marital preparation can be more beneficial to young couple’s marital counselors, can forces married couples who are struggling and on the verge of divorce. They can help solve marital issues or they can help come to an amicable divorce considering children. Also in some cases, they can prepare couples for remarrying. All these preparations can help improve the rate of marriages among African Americans by educating and bring about satisfaction in marriages lowering cases of divorce.
Improvement of the black American social-economic status by imposing measures and policies that improve black Americans' social, psychological, financial, and family wellbeing. Black Americans are popular for race-related issues such as poverty, low education, and crime. All these factors contribute to the ethnic group's poor relationships hindering many of the young people from engaging in marital affairs through marriage. The problem, however, is common among men and therefore it is important to impose policies that help young men attain education which later helps them achieve better employment opportunity and at sometimes eradicating poverty and creating economic stability which make it easier to have marital relations that lead to marriages.
The improvement in the number of marriages among the African-American community requires people to change their attitude toward marriage and the marriage institution. A negative attitude has caused people to prefer cohabiting for sexual pressures rather than entering a committed relationship (Curran, et al. 2010). To change the attitude people need to be educated on the importance of marriage in any social setting. Also, the positive implication it may have on children compared to raising children in a single-parent home. In addition, the social-economic importance marriage may have on the family if both parties can work cooperatively to gain financial stability in the household and support each other emotionally in times of crisis unlike in a single-parent family where one person incurs all burdens.
Raley, R. K., Sweeney, M. M., & Wondra, D. (2015). The growing racial and ethnic divide in US marriage patterns. The Future of Children/Center for the Future of Children, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, 25(2), 89. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4850739/
Tucker, M. B., & Mitchell-Kernan, C. (1989). The Decline of Marriage among African Americans: Attitudinal Dimensions. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/234776318_The_Decline_of_Marriage_among_African_Americans_Attitudinal_Dimensions
Murry, V. M. (1997). The Decline in Marriage Among African Americans: Causes, Consequences, and Policy Implications. Journal of Marriage and Family, 59(3), 773. DOI: 10.2307/353960
Gregory, K. A. (2019). Sustainable African American Marriages: Evaluating the Impact of Closeness to God and Religiosity on Marital Satisfaction and Longevity. https://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3361&context=doctoral
Curran, M. A., Utley, E. A., & Muraco, J. A. (2010). An exploratory study of the meaning of marriage for African Americans. Marriage & Family Review, 46(5), 346-365. https://doi.org/10.1080/01494929.2010.528314
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