Why do people marry?
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The proportion of people who were married by the age of fifty in Britain fell from 96 per cent in 1971 to 83 per cent in 1987. Nearly 40 per cent of marriages now end in divorce. In 1989 36 per cent of all marriages were remarriages for a least one partner. Thus while an increasing number of people never marry and some may experience married life for only a short period of time, marriage is still a very popular institution. If, however, you ask people why they marry, their responses tend to be very vague, to the effect that ‘it just happened’, or ‘we were in love’, or ‘everybody does’. Considering the serious vows that are taken in marriage, and the difficulties and pain of getting out of marriage, it seems puzzling that people lack more concrete reasons than the ones usually given. Arguably this is a result of historical developments and social forces which have made it very difficult for people not to marry. Despite contemporary ideals that marriage is a totally free choice between two individuals who happen to fall in love, there are other very real pressures now, as in the past, which act to make people think that they should marry.
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