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By C C Pecknold, Catholic Herald, 18 October, 2019
The breakdown of marriage hurts the poor especially. It should be seen as the social justice issue of our time
Nearly a decade ago, Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist at the Johns Hopkins University, published a book called The Marriage-Go-Round which brought thirty years of research to bear on the state of marriage in America. One of his several dramatic findings was that Americans no longer saw marriage as something foundational for their lives but rather as a “capstone” to a successful life. Because of contraceptive technology, the sexual urge no longer propelled people into marrying young as it once did. And yet, Americans still wanted to get married just as soon as all the economic factors line up in their favor. For many Americans, marriage has become something more aspirational than essential. It has become a kind of deracinated symbol of status that is enjoyed only by the rich.
However, Cherlin’s very helpful distinction between a foundational and a capstone view of marriage came with a strange recommendation: he thought people should be encouraged to take their time discerning, slow down, maybe cohabitate, and enter into marriage with greater caution. This he thought would lead to greater relational stability which would be good for society. …