New research indicates that fewer Americans are getting married than ever before. Results recently released by the Pew Research Center revealed that only 51 percent of adults in the United States are currently married.
For African-American women, the marriage rate is even lower.
According to the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, by the age of thirty nearly 81 percent of white women and 77 percent of Hispanics and Asians will marry, but that only 52 percent of black women will marry by that age.
In addition, black women are also the least likely to re-marry following divorce. Only 32 percent of black women will get married again within five years of divorce; that figure is 58 percent for white women and 44 percent for Hispanic women.
However, for Author and Life Coach LaKeshia Rivers Ekeigwe, African-American women should stay positive despite these statistics.
In her book, The Truth About Being Single, she professes her belief that marriage is a mind-game that can overcome even the most depressing circumstances: “In [my] book, the final chapter is called Never Give Up on Love. I have a lot of hope for those who would like to married— without a doubt.”
For black woman hoping to overcome what seems like impossible odds, she says: “I have hope that those who want to get married, will.”
Positive thinking aside, the obstacles black women face are steep.
“The demographics for African-Americans being unemployed is the highest out of all of the other races, which causes an immense amount of stress on the black male to maintain his family,” Relationship Coach and Author Roland Hinds told theGrio. “Although this is not representative of the entire African-American community, many men tend to abandon the family commitment because they are not able to hold the family together. They are afraid of looking like a failure.”
There are also historical reasons as to why marriage is not a stable tradition in our community.
Judge Lynn Toler, star of Divorce Court, said that African-Americans have placed less emphasis on the institution of marriage, because it was impossible to maintain during slavery.
However, today, Toler stresses the need for blacks to reassert importance of marriage.
“I saw in criminal court the ways of the young 18 and 19 and 20-year-olds, and I would hear stories about unstable families,” she told theGrio. “When I would ask them about what was going on at home, many times there was a mom who was vaguely there or a mom who had a rotating schedule of lovers that changed the rules every time they came by. This type of lifestyle is not conducive to pulling ourselves together.”
Yet instead of only looking at the downside, New York University Professor of Sociology Kathleen Gerson encouraged disgruntled men and women to look at the notions reflected in the decline of marriage.
Gerson told National Public Radio that this decline has costs and benefits: “If you want to look at the good news, what this is telling us, especially among young adults, is that people are waiting longer to get married. They’re taking time to get established in their own lives, to decide who they are, and what kind of partner they want.”
Gerson also noted that due to the rise of women in the workforce and the increasing equality between them and men in jobs means that both men and women have more choices.
However, some black women find that their education prevents them from meeting black men who match their social status.
Ekeigwe knows black women are aware of the numbers regarding black men and their plight in society: “The statistics on the number of black men who are undereducated, socioeconomically disadvantaged, and incarcerated really just mean that black women have a smaller pool of black men to choose from,” she told theGrio.
Despite the statistics, Ekeigwe is hopeful that African-American marriages will increase eventually.
“I’m a believer,” Ekeigew said. “I believe that as a society we can make decisions about what we want to do. We can’t continue to do what we have been doing and save marriage, but I think it is a decision that anyone can make [to be married].”
For African-Americans who would like to be married, Ekeigwe advised that they should live each daymaking themselves become the person possible, so when the right person does come along they will be ready.
“I think that society has devalued what marriage actually is,” she said. “I think people need to be more thoughtful about their future, and their expectations for marriage. They have to see themselves as a husband or a wife in order to attract the right person.”