Unmarried Households the Norm
- Parent Category: Upper-Intermediate News Lessons
- Category: Relationships Lessons
- Written by Chris Cotter
For the first time in US history, traditional marriage isn't the preferred living choice in most households. Marriage isn't dead, but data released in August indicated that more than half of American family households weren't married. That figure, 56.8 million, or 50.2 percent of the total, is a sharp drop from six years ago. Married couples made up 52 percent of the 105.5 million households back then.
Single women headed more than 14 million households, and another 5 million by single men. Most interesting, or alarming, depending on your point of view, were the large number of "non-family households." This term mostly refers to gay or heterosexual couples living together out of formal wedlock.
The shift could mark drastic changes in every part of American life, from family law to national politics with its emphasis on family values. In the short term, however, it indicates the failed efforts of conservatives, despite their push for traditional marriage and families.
Douglas Beshavor, a sociologist with the American Enterprise Institute, suggested that short-term relationships and unmarried couples living together would dominate American life for years to come. As a result, people will find themselves more alone than ever before. Both parents will be working, so there will be fewer siblings, cousins, aunts, and uncles. America will move towards a much more individualistic society.
"Change is in the air," he said. "The only question is whether it is catastrophic or just evolutionary."
Preview some of the lesson material:
Warm Up: Do you agree or disagree? Why?
- Marriage has been an important part of society, is important now, and will be important in the future.
- Marriage is old fashioned. To be single and to have short-term relationships is best.
- There is little reason to get married if a couple is already living together.
- Children need to have contact with their extended family of cousins, aunts, uncles, etc.
- It's wrong, disgusting, and/or sinful for an unmarried couple to live together.
Fragments: Remember how the fragments were used, and complete the sentence from today's article.
- Married couples made up 52 percent of...
- The shift could mark drastic changes in every part of American life, from family law to...
- As a result, people will find themselves...
- Both parents will be working, so there will be...
- The only question is whether...
post-Comprehension: Talk about the following questions in pairs/groups. Remember to support your answers!
- Do you think the drop in marriage rates is a temporary trend in America, or is it here to stay? Why?
- What are the marriage rates in you r country? Are more or less people getting married? Why?
- How many people do you know are unhappily married? What advice would you give them?
- Why do you think less people are getting married in America?
- Do you think marriage rates all over the world will eventually go down? Why/not?
Google Search: Type "unmarried households" into Google. Look at the websites, and/or read additional articles on this topic. Discuss or write an essay about your findings.