10 Major Reasons Behind the Falling Marriage Rates in Men

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“Marriage ” The age-old sentiment, “marriage is a fine institution,” echoed in biblical verses such as “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD” (Proverbs 18:22), seems to have lost its charm in the tumultuous seas of 21st-century life, particularly for men. The rate of marriage among men has steadily declined, a trend that is not a fleeting occurrence but a persistent pattern warranting careful analysis.

According to the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG), the percentage of men who had married by ages 40–44 was 88% in 1986, a figure that dropped to 82% by 2010. Dr. William Doherty, a professor of Family Social Science at the University of Minnesota, suggests, “The decline in marriage rates among men is a complex issue, stemming from a blend of social, economic, and psychological factors.”

As societal norms evolve, men today navigate new terrain. The desire for financial stability, changing gender roles, fear of divorce, postponed parenthood, and the influence of technology, among other factors, significantly shape men’s attitudes toward marriage.

Understanding this trend requires a deep dive into its intricate factors. This article aims to dissect the reasons behind the decreasing marriage trend, providing a more detailed understanding of the variables at play. It’s a crucial exploration not just for social scientists but for all those invested in the future of society.

The significance of this investigation is encapsulated by the proverb, “knowledge is power.” By understanding the reasons for the declining marriage rate among men, society can more effectively address these concerns and meet the evolving needs of its members. As the Bible proclaims, “Where there is no vision, the people perish…” (Proverbs 29:18). It’s high time we focus our attention on this trend for the prosperity of both current and future generations.

1. Economic factors

In today’s world, economic considerations significantly influence decision-making. As the proverb goes, “money makes the world go ’round,” and when it comes to marriage, the saying “when poverty comes in at the door, love flies out of the window” often holds true. These sentiments reflect how economic factors are increasingly influencing men’s decisions to delay or avoid marriage.

Proverbs 22:7 states, “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender,” aptly encapsulating our first point — the unstable job market and financial insecurity. According to Dr. Robert Pollak, an economist at Washington University, the precarious job market is causing men to delay marriage. The economic downturns and the rise of the gig economy have made job security an elusive dream for many. Consequently, the fear of being unable to provide for and sustain a family poses a significant obstacle to men considering marriage.

The next factor is the escalating cost of weddings, which often feels like putting the cart before the horse for many men. The Knot reports that the average cost of a wedding in the United States is now nearly $34,000, excluding the honeymoon. The financial obligations don’t stop there, as starting a family comes with its own substantial cost. As researcher Elizabeth Warren observes, “Having a child is now the single best predictor that a woman will end up in financial collapse.”

Lastly, the looming issue of student loan debt, a proverbial millstone around the necks of many young people, significantly impacts financial stability. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the average student loan debt in 2023 is about $37,000 per borrower. This burden often leads men to delay or even forgo marriage.

In conclusion, money matters. The economic pressures associated with marriage are a bitter pill for many men to swallow, leading them to postpone or altogether avoid this commitment.

2. Changing gender roles and expectations

The old saying, “A rolling stone gathers no moss,” aptly captures the dynamic nature of societal changes, including shifting gender roles and expectations. These changes have significantly influenced men’s attitudes toward marriage.

In the traditional marital script, men were the breadwinners, often seen as the “strong silent types,” bearing the family’s financial burdens. This notion is echoed in Ephesians 5:23, “For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church…” However, societal norms are evolving. According to Dr. Michael Kimmel, a sociologist at Stony Brook University, men are grappling with these changes, as they’re now expected to be both providers and active participants in domestic duties. This dual role can lead to a feeling of walking a tightrope, trying to balance traditional expectations with modern realities.

Alongside this shift, women’s increasing economic independence has changed the dynamics of marriage. Proverbs 31:16 praises the industrious woman: “She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings, she plants a vineyard.” Today, women are more educated and economically independent than ever before, altering power dynamics in relationships. Consequently, many women choose to delay marriage or forego it altogether, which impacts men’s marriage prospects.

Finally, shared responsibilities in relationships have become increasingly common. According to Dr. John Gottman’s research, couples who share domestic duties tend to have more successful relationships. This development represents a significant departure from traditional gender roles, and some men may struggle with this adjustment. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 states, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor,” championing the idea of shared responsibility. However, its practical application often involves complex negotiations of tasks, roles, and expectations.

In summary, the transformation of gender roles and expectations has significantly impacted men’s approach to marriage. While some men welcome these changes, others find themselves caught between the traditional and the contemporary, struggling to reconcile the two.

3. Fear of commitment and divorce.

The age-old saying, “once bitten, twice shy,” aptly encapsulates the sentiment many men harbor regarding commitment and the potential for divorce. With divorce rates in the United States hovering around 40-50%, according to the American Psychological Association, the fear of marriage dissolution is not unfounded.

Malachi 2:16 states, “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.” This verse underscores the emotional toll of divorce, a reality that many men are keenly aware of. The prospect of experiencing emotional pain, loss, and upheaval can make men wary of marriage.

Beyond emotional distress, divorce also carries significant financial implications. As Dr. Jay Zagorsky, a research scientist at The Ohio State University, explains, “Divorce, on average, reduces the wealth of a person by about three-quarters.” This financial setback, along with potential legal complications such as alimony, child support, and asset division, acts as a deterrent for many men contemplating marriage.

Moreover, it’s noteworthy that women initiate the majority of divorces. According to a study by the American Sociological Association, women initiate about 70% of all divorces. The reasons behind this trend are multifaceted, ranging from dissatisfaction with the marriage to feeling undervalued. Understanding this, men may fear the potential instability of a marriage commitment.

In addition, the legal complexities of divorce can be daunting. The process is often lengthy, mentally exhausting, and disruptive to one’s life, causing men to think twice before saying “I do.”

In conclusion, the fear of commitment and divorce hangs like a sword of Damocles over many men contemplating marriage. The emotional, financial, and legal implications, along with the fact that women initiate most divorces, can make the path to the altar seem more like a road to perdition, leading many men to seek alternatives to traditional marriage.

4. Delaying parenthood

The old saying, “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” aptly signifies that important endeavors require time. This sentiment is reflected in the attitudes of many men today regarding fatherhood. Instead of rushing into parenthood, they’re choosing to delay it, focusing on their careers and personal growth.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 states, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” This mindset is increasingly prevalent among men, according to Dr. Stewart Friedman, a professor at the Wharton School. Men are choosing to establish their careers and personal identities before embracing the responsibilities of parenthood. They’re not rushing to don the cap of fatherhood; instead, they’re pacing themselves, ensuring their lives are well-ordered before taking the plunge.

This trend is supported by data showing that the age of first-time fathers is on the rise. The National Center for Family and Marriage Research notes that men are increasingly waiting until their thirties or even forties to become fathers. This shift is indicative of changing perceptions of masculinity and fatherhood, as men feel less societal pressure to start families early.

In the realm of fertility, scientific advancements have made it possible for men to become fathers later in life. Dr. Robert Brzyski, President of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, notes, “The advancements in reproductive technologies have given men more flexibility and control over their fertility.”

Finally, the traditional narrative of marriage preceding parenthood is being questioned. The old proverb, “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in a baby carriage,” no longer rings true for many. Societal norms are shifting, and many men are open to having children outside the confines of marriage, an idea echoed by 1 Corinthians 7:2, “But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.”

In conclusion, the trend of delaying parenthood reflects changes in societal norms and individual priorities. Men are increasingly focusing on establishing themselves and exploring their options before taking on the responsibilities of fatherhood, whether within or outside of marriage. This shift illustrates the changing landscape of family life, showing that there are multiple paths to parenthood.

5. Impact of technology on relationships.

There’s no denying that technology has revolutionized our lives, but as the saying goes, “every rose has its thorn.” The impact of technology on relationships, particularly in the context of marriage, is a complex issue.

Online dating has transformed the world of romance. While it has broadened the dating pool, it has also contributed to the rise of the “hookup culture.” Many men, like those seeking a needle in a haystack, are navigating the digital landscape in search of meaningful connections but often end up with transient encounters. Dr. Justin Garcia, a research scientist at Indiana University, notes that the instant gratification and casual approach promoted by online dating platforms can make it challenging for men to commit to long-term relationships and marriage.

Proverbs 31:30 cautions, “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Yet, social media has become a potent force in shaping relationship expectations. A world of seemingly perfect relationships is perpetuated on these platforms, setting unrealistic standards that can be hard to meet. As Dr. Ramani Durvasula, a clinical psychologist, explains, the constant comparison can lead to dissatisfaction and disillusionment with real-life relationships.

Moreover, technology’s omnipresence can impact mental health, which is a crucial factor in readiness for marriage. The Harvard Business Review reports that excessive use of technology can lead to increased feelings of isolation, depression, and anxiety. Men grappling with these issues may find it more challenging to form and maintain healthy romantic relationships.

Lastly, technology has inadvertently created barriers to genuine connection. The art of face-to-face communication is fading, replaced by text messages, instant messaging, and video calls. Proverbs 25:11 states, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver,” emphasizing the importance of meaningful communication, which is often lost in digital exchanges. Dr. Sherry Turkle, a professor at MIT, argues that this lack of direct communication can hinder the development of deep, lasting relationships, potentially affecting men’s inclination toward marriage.

In conclusion, technology’s impact on relationships is multifaceted. It has facilitated new connections but has also presented challenges in forging strong, committed relationships that lead to marriage. Navigating this digital landscape requires wisdom and discernment to differentiate the superficial from the genuine and to maintain mental well-being.

6. Importance of personal freedom and independence.

The old adage, “The bird that flies alone gets to the forest sooner,” captures the increasing importance men are placing on personal freedom and independence. The traditional confines of marriage, for some, feel more like a birdcage than a cozy nest, leading many to spread their wings and fly solo.

Galatians 5:13 offers guidance, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” This verse is increasingly being interpreted by modern men as a call to personal growth and self-discovery. As Dr. Bella DePaulo, a psychologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, points out, many men are choosing to stay single to focus on individual development, career advancement, and personal fulfillment, often delaying or foregoing marriage altogether.

Resistance to traditional gender roles and expectations is another aspect of this quest for freedom. As we’ve explored earlier, societal norms are evolving, and men are increasingly rejecting the traditional expectations associated with marriage. They’re no longer content being the sole breadwinner or being confined to traditional roles and are seeking partnerships that honor mutual respect, equality, and shared responsibilities.

Lastly, the desire to maintain flexibility in life decisions plays a significant role. The Proverb, “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety,” (Proverbs 11:14) is being interpreted as a call for independence in decision-making. Marriage often involves shared decisions, and some men prefer the autonomy of making life choices without the need for compromise or negotiation.

In conclusion, the importance of personal freedom and independence cannot be underestimated in understanding why men are not getting married. The flight towards personal freedom is a journey of self-discovery, a resistance to traditional norms, and a desire for flexibility that many men are choosing over the path of marriage. It’s a clarion call for a reevaluation of societal norms and expectations around marriage and commitment.

7. Changes in cohabitation patterns

The old adage, “The bird that flies alone gets to the forest sooner,” encapsulates the increasing emphasis men are placing on personal freedom and independence. For many, the traditional confines of marriage feel more like a birdcage than a cozy nest, prompting them to spread their wings and fly solo.

Galatians 5:13 advises, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Many modern men interpret this verse as a call to personal growth and self-discovery. As Dr. Bella DePaulo, a psychologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, notes, numerous men are opting to stay single to focus on individual development, career advancement, and personal fulfillment, often delaying or bypassing marriage.

Resistance to traditional gender roles and expectations is another facet of this pursuit of freedom. As previously discussed, societal norms are changing, and men are increasingly rejecting the conventional expectations linked to marriage. They’re not satisfied with being the sole breadwinners or being confined to traditional roles; they seek partnerships that respect mutual respect, equality, and shared responsibilities.

Additionally, the desire for flexibility and autonomy in life decisions is a significant factor. Proverbs 11:14 states, “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” Today’s men interpret this as a call for independence in decision-making. Marriage often involves shared decision-making, and many men prefer the autonomy of making life choices without the need for compromise or negotiation.

Finally, it’s crucial to note that choosing personal freedom and independence over marriage is increasingly being recognized as a valid life choice, not a deviation from the norm. The societal stigma associated with being single is gradually fading, and men who prioritize their independence are finding societal acceptance.

In conclusion, the importance of personal freedom and independence is a crucial factor in understanding why more men are eschewing marriage. The flight towards personal freedom signifies a journey of self-discovery, a resistance to traditional norms, and a desire for flexibility. It’s a clarion call for a reevaluation of societal norms and expectations around marriage and commitment.

8. Fear of marrying the “wrong” person.

The saying, “marry in haste, repent at leisure,” aptly underscores the fear many men harbor about marrying the “wrong” person. This apprehension, coupled with societal pressures and personal desires, can deter numerous individuals from embracing the institution of marriage.

Unrealistic expectations can make any endeavor seem like a Herculean feat, and choosing a life partner is no different. Proverbs 14:12 cautions, “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end, it leads to death.” This wisdom is particularly relevant to romantic relationships, where illusions of perfection can lead to profound disappointment. Dr. Eli Finkel, a psychologist at Northwestern University, points out that while high expectations can propel us to seek out the best, they can also set us up for potential failure when reality falls short.

The pressure to find the perfect partner can feel like a millstone around one’s neck. In the age of social media and dating apps, an overwhelming array of choices exists, and the fear of settling for less can be paralyzing. As Dr. Barry Schwartz, author of “The Paradox of Choice,” points out, having too many options can lead to decision paralysis and perpetual dissatisfaction.

The longing for a strong, lasting partnership is a fundamental human aspiration. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 states, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.” However, the fear of marrying the wrong person and potentially undermining this goal can deter many men from tying the knot.

Moreover, it’s important to underscore the role of self-understanding and emotional intelligence in overcoming this fear. Knowing oneself, one’s values and one’s emotional needs can provide a strong foundation for making a wise choice in a life partner. As the ancient Greek aphorism goes, “Know thyself.”

In conclusion, the fear of marrying the “wrong” person significantly influences men’s hesitancy towards marriage. The pressures and fears surrounding the choice of a life partner can be overwhelming, prompting many to postpone or forgo marriage. This underscores the necessity for realistic expectations, self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and patience in the pursuit of a lifelong partnership.

In the world of media and popular culture, there’s a common refrain: “Life imitates art.” The media’s portrayal of marriage and relationships can significantly impact societal norms and individual decisions, and for many men, these depictions are steering them away from the altar.

Television and film exert a profound influence on how we perceive the world, including marriage and relationships. Proverbs 23:7 states, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” Dr. Sarah Coyne, a professor of family life at Brigham Young University, suggests that the dramatized portrayals of marital strife, infidelity, and divorce often seen on screen can create a skewed perception of marriage, causing men to think twice before saying, “I do.”

Celebrity culture also plays a significant role in shaping societal norms. The phrase “Hollywood marriages” has become synonymous with short-lived relationships, and the high-profile breakups splashed across tabloid pages can breed cynicism about the durability of marriage. According to Dr. Karen Sternheimer, a sociologist at the University of Southern California, these celebrity relationship patterns can influence societal expectations and behaviors, subtly suggesting that marriage is transient and easily dissolved.

Finally, media’s role in shaping relationship expectations cannot be underestimated. The fairy-tale romances and grand gestures often depicted on screen can set unrealistic standards, as echoed in the idiom, “comparing your behind-the-scenes to everyone else’s highlight reel.” Dr. Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University, notes that these media-inflated expectations can make the reality of marriage – with its compromises, conflicts, and everyday mundanity – seem unattractive.

Moreover, it’s important to emphasize the necessity of critical media literacy and personal discernment. Understanding that media often portray idealized, exaggerated, or simplified versions of relationships can help individuals separate fiction from fact. As the Greek philosopher Epictetus said, “We are not disturbed by things, but by the views we take of them.”

In conclusion, the influence of media and popular culture is a potent force shaping men’s perceptions of marriage. While it offers a wealth of entertainment, it’s essential to remember that real life is not a scripted drama or a glossy magazine spread. As we navigate our relationships, it’s crucial to differentiate between the silver-screen fantasies and the realities of love, commitment, and marriage, applying critical thinking and personal discernment.

10. Lack of relationship education and support

The old saying, “love is not enough,” rings true when it comes to understanding why many men are avoiding marriage. In many cases, a lack of relationship education and support underlie this trend.

Access to resources for learning about healthy relationships is often limited. Proverbs 19:2 cautions, “Desire without knowledge is not good.” Similarly, a desire for a successful marriage without understanding the intricacies of maintaining a healthy relationship can lead to failure. Dr. Mark Butler, a professor of family life at Brigham Young University, emphasizes the need for education about effective communication, conflict resolution, and emotional intelligence – skills that are often neglected in traditional learning environments.

Family dynamics and upbringing also play a crucial role in shaping relationship skills. Ephesians 6:4 advises, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” However, not everyone is fortunate to grow up in an environment that exemplifies healthy relationships. According to Dr. Robert Epstein, a research psychologist, experiences and observations from our formative years significantly influence our ability to form and maintain successful relationships in adulthood.

There’s a pressing need for better relationship education in schools and communities. The saying, “it takes a village to raise a child,” underscores the collective responsibility of society to equip the next generation with the necessary skills for successful relationships. Dr. Scott Stanley, a research professor at the University of Denver, suggests that integrating relationship education into school curricula and community programs can help bridge this knowledge gap.

In conclusion, the lack of relationship education and support is a significant factor contributing to men’s hesitation toward marriage. Like any other important life skill, the ability to build and maintain healthy relationships needs to be learned and practiced. It’s high time we recognize and address this gap in our education and support systems, fostering a healthier approach to relationships and marriage.


As we come to the end of our exploration, it’s clear that the decline in marriage rates among men isn’t a one-size-fits-all issue. It’s a many-headed Hydra, with each head representing a complex interplay of economic, societal, personal, and cultural factors. As Proverbs 24:3-4 states, “By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.” In the same vein, understanding the complexity of this issue is the first step toward addressing it.

We live in an era where traditional paths are frequently being redefined. The idiom, “different strokes for different folks,” is more applicable than ever. Societal adaptation and support for diverse relationship choices are critical. As Dr. Helen Fisher, a renowned anthropologist, suggests, societal structures and norms need to evolve alongside changing preferences and realities to support a range of relationship choices, from cohabitation to singlehood, alongside traditional marriage.

Moreover, the need for continued research and dialogue on this topic is of utmost importance. The wisdom of Ecclesiastes 1:13, “It is a grievous task God has given to the sons of men to be afflicted with,” underscores the importance of continued effort in understanding and addressing societal challenges. Academicians, researchers, and thought leaders have a significant role to play in shedding more light on this issue and guiding constructive conversations.

In conclusion, the declining marriage rate among men is a multifaceted issue that calls for a comprehensive and empathetic understanding. It’s an invitation for societal introspection and adaptation, encouraging us to respect and support diverse life choices. As society continues to evolve, so too must our understanding of relationships and commitment, ensuring we foster an environment where every individual can thrive in their chosen path.

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