Love, marriage thrive in modern life

Thursday, February 14, 2008

According to the most popular theory, Emperor Claudius II felt that marriage weakened his soldiers, so when he forbade the ceremony, St. Valentine performed marriages anyway.

After the priest was executed, Pope Gelasius set aside Feb. 14, in his honor.

Through the centuries, St. Valentine became the patron saint of lovers, and Esther Howland of Massachusetts, is given credit for sending the first valentine cards in the 1840s.

While love and marriage isn't what it used to be, people in their first marriage who are headed for divorce hold it together for an average of eight years before giving up, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

But people still prefer to be married; most people go only about 31⁄2 years before getting married again. Twelve percent of men and 13 percent of women, 15 and older, have married twice, and three percent have married three or more times,

And, 58 percent of women and 54 percent of men have made only one trip down the aisle, and of adults 25 or older who have ever divorced, 52 percent of men and 44 percent of women are currently married.

Marriage isn't in any danger of becoming extinct; there are 2.2 million marriages in the United States every year, or 5,918 every day.

And an inordinate number of them take place in Nevada, which, although it ranks 35th in population, is the site for 131,826 marriages, fourth in the nation. California ranks first.

But more people are waiting to get married, some 3.7 years longer for men, in fact, and 4.2 years for women, over the past 30 years. Now, the average man is 25.5 and woman 27.5 the first time they get married.

Including those who are separated, 56 percent of women and 60 percent of men, 18 or older, are married, and 71 percent of people age 30-34 have been married at some point in their lives.

While 5 million opposite-sex unmarried couples maintained households in 2006, or 4.4 percent of all households, 57 percent of women who married for the first time between 1985 and 1989 marke their 15th anniversary. That compares with 79 percent of women who married for the first time between 1955 and 1959.

Six percent of currently married women have been married for at least 50 years, and just more than half of currently married women have been married for at least 15 years.

Pain or pleasure, joy and remorse, love and marriage have been a part of life since long before St. Valentine's time and doubtless will be farther into the future than anyone can see.

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