Is marriage finally obsolete? Let’s hope so.

Cue the hand-wringing on this one:

Just over half of all adult Americans, 51 percent, are currently married, according to an analysis of U.S. census data by the Pew Research Center. The center predicts that, if current trends continue, the share of currently married adults will fall below half within a few years. In 1960, 72 percent of all adults 18 and older were married.

The analysis shows that, though the traditional marriage is giving way, other lifestyle forms – including cohabitation, single-person households and single parenthood – are growing. It found that the number of new marriages in the United States declined by 5 percent from 2009 to 2010.

It’s not just that folks aren’t getting married as much, it’s also that they’re questioning the entire institution. Thirty-nine percent of all adults and 44% of young people said they believe that marriage is “obsolete.” Twelve percent of unmarried adults said they do not want to get married, and another 27% expressed uncertainty.

Of course, folks like Rick Santorum are already taking the completely nonsensical position that gay marriage is to blame for the plummeting rates. But I’m excited by this news. Let’s start experimenting with alternative family structures, y’all! Perhaps on day soon, we’ll even successfully reclaim the word “spinster.”

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like,, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

Read more about Maya

Join the Conversation