Data on marriage attitudes from Brookings Institution.

A new survey on marriage and families in the U.S. published by The Center for the Study of Elections and The Deseret News reveals a discrepancy between how Americans view their own marriage compared to how they view marriage as an institution.

Brookings Institution fellow Richard Reeves is fascinated by the study and its implications, suggesting that people are troubled by what's going on with marriage in society, but relatively assured when it comes to their personal choice and status. Reeves writes:

In general, the new survey paints a reasonably upbeat picture of marriage in America, and some fascinating nuances which we’ll be coming back to in the next few weeks. Here are some highlights for now:

  • Most Americans believe that marriage is needed to create strong families (62 percent), and that marriage makes families and kids better off financially (60 percent) 
  • Just 12 percent say that marriage is “old fashioned and out of date” On the other hand, about half (47 percent) agree that “personal commitment to a partner is more important than marriage,” suggesting that it is commitment represented by marriage that is valued 
  • More than a quarter (28 percent) of couples say they “pray together as a couple, outside of meals” 
  • Americans are deeply divided over whether the Supreme Court Ruling legalizing gay marriage will strengthen marriage: yes, say most liberals, no, say most conservatives.
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