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Poll: Fewer Americans See Marriage as Important

bride groom altarA variety of cultural trends such as same-sex marriage and cohabitation have weakened the concept of marriage in the minds of Americans, with record numbers now saying it's not very important to get married.

The Christian Post is reporting on a new Gallup poll which found that less than two-thirds of Americans (54%) consider it very or somewhat important for a couple to marry if they want to spend the rest of their lives together or want to start a family.

In 2006, the last time Gallup asked about the importance of legal marriage, 73 percent said it was very or somewhat important if a man and woman want to live together, and 76 percent believed it was best if a couple wants to have children.

In the latest poll, 21 percent of persons who had never married said they would like to be married one day. For Americans aged 18 to 34, 56 percent of those who are unmarried say they want to get married.

"This suggests that a sizable percentage of Americans who would like to get married still don't think it is important that they do so," said the report's authors, Frank Newport and Joy Wilke. "Additionally, younger Americans are significantly less likely than older groups to believe people should marry when making a lifetime commitment or having a child."

According to The Census Bureau, the overall rate of marriage has declined from 9.9 marriages per 1,000 Americans in 1987 to just 6.8 in 2011.

However, the new data shows that marriage "holds its traditional status as the expected route for young couples, but the perceived importance of adhering to that tradition may be weakening," the report states.

"Thus, the overall marriage rate may be dropping partly because younger Americans feel more comfortable in waiting to be married, even if they do get married eventually."

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