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Latest research on the sexual habits of young Americans
on March 23, 2011
This book suggests our current culture is not supportive of lasting relationships. We have an illegitimacy rate of over 40%. Our universities are full of binge drinking and casual hookups and many young men and women complain they are "having a difficult time discerning exactly how to generate a secure relationship" (p 151) in all the chaos.
Many of the research findings are going to surprise you.
Rather surprisingly, research shows those marrying between "ages 20-27 report higher levels of marital success" (p 181) than those who marry later. And "those who marry between 22 and 25" (p 181) have an even higher rate of marital happiness.
This certainly goes against much of the current advice, which is to wait until you are 30, finish your graduate degree, achieve some success in your job, and then start looking around.
Certain trends appear, in studies, to be downright harmful to achieving later marital happiness. For example, those who cohabit before marriage are more likely to end up divorced, or never married. Or with one of those 40% of our babies whose parents never married.
Perhaps the most interesting section of the book deals with "Blue Sex" versus "Red Sex". The liberal blues believe "What matters most is you. A relationship can only augment the self.... (and) Youth shouldn't be wasted" (p 211).
On the other hand, among those who tend to fall into the "Red Sex" category, "it's quite clear that faith plays a role in shaping their sexual decision -making" (p 226) resulting in far fewer partners, and greater chances for marital happiness.
Study after study has shown that women with higher numbers of sexual partners, or those who began having sex at an earlier age, frequently suffer from depression or other emotional problems. In fact, after the sexual revolution and the feminist tidal wave of the seventies, increasing numbers of women are looking back on what's happened with regret, not happiness.
One very interesting fact: one of the most influential statistics about marriage in the US, the one mentioned many times by young adults, is wrong--or at least misunderstood. That would be the old chestnut that 50% of all marriages here end in divorce.
In truth, some people marry and divorce again and again. But those who marry for the first time have a much, much greater chance of remaining married.
Some other good books on the subject include "The State of Our Unions 2010" which presents statistics showing marriage is disappearing among the poor in America, "Marriage and Cast in America" which also presents evidence on the subject, "Fatherless America", which talks about the research proving children raised in single parents households are harmed, and "The Abolition of Marriage", which has the best in-depth research on marriage, divorce, children, and single parenting.