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Where Have All the Married People Gone?

Marriage rates are at an all-time low. Are people overthinking it?

I'll admit it: I always wanted to be married. I happened to find "the one" and tie the knot for love. I'm not one of those married women. I know that a good man (or woman) is hard to find. In fact, a new study reveals that only 51 percent of adults in the US are married. That's just half of the population, people! And it represents an all-time low: The marriage rate has dropped from 59 percent in 1960 to a mere 20 percent in the present day. And this cooling trend isn't expected to end anytime soon. I'm not sure why, but that scares me a little.

Yes, many people have perfectly good reasons for staying single. Women can support themselves, so they can be pickier about whose socks they choose to pick up off the floor for as long as they both shall live. And, as the article states, women are no longer shunned by society for raising children alone. But, if given the choice, would most women choose to be single moms? I don't think so. So that theory doesn't hold water for me.

And let's not forget about cohabitation: According to the Census Bureau, twice as many couples are living together now than they were 20 years ago. Both men and women -- but mostly men -- are putting off getting hitched until they feel they're economically stable. And with the recent recession, there aren't a whole lot of moneybags out there looking to put a ring on it. It's a bummer, but it brings up a valid question: At the end of the day, is marriage really just a business agreement? With singlehood an increasingly viable option, people are free to think long and hard about whether this whole marriage business is right for them.

But are they overthinking it?

To me, getting married is sort of like watching a science fiction movie or even a romantic comedy. There has to be some suspension of disbelief, or you're not going to buy it. Marriage is not a romantic comedy. It's hard -- and sometimes it can flat-out suck. It's messy but enormously rewarding. It's not a Hallmark card; it's the foundation that family is built on -- and whose family is 100 percent functional? Our grandparents seemed to grasp this concept better than we do -- and look how happy they always were.

I can't help but wonder what this steady decline in marriage means for society at large -- and the future of the family unit. Are technology, equal rights, education -- all the amazing things we're so privileged to enjoy in the modern world -- changing the face of relationships and family? What will society look like 50 years from now?

Let me know your thoughts on the current "marriage crisis." Do you think it signals the demise of a cherished institution -- or an opportunity to restructure our lives for the better?

-- Holly