Professor’s New Book Encourages Young People to Marry

Sociology professor Brad Wilcox has a radical recommendation for young adults: ignore the advice of parents, peers, and pop culture—and get married.

Wilcox, the director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, argues that the road to greater overall happiness begins with walking down the aisle. And he has the data to prove it.

The title of his latest book is Get Married: Why Americans Must Defy Elites, Build Strong Families, and Save Civilization. In the opening chapter, Wilcox applauds her students at the University of Virginia for their curiosity, work ethic, and willingness to volunteer for worthy causes, but she says they, and young adults, in general, have blind spot: “They are too busy with their studies and future careers. , to the exclusion of love and marriage…These young people, without knowing it, have read a series of pervasive modern assumptions about the purpose of life.”

In Get married, Wilcox cites a Pew poll showing how 88 percent of parents believe it’s important for their children to be financially independent and have careers they enjoy as adults; but only 21 percent said it was important for their children to marry, and only 20 percent believed it was important for their children to have children of their own.

Still, marriage is the best predictor for happiness, Wilcox said. In a article He co-wrote with David Bass on Unherd.com, that statement is supported by research from the University of Chicago, which found that “marriage is the most important differentiator of who is happy in America, and the decline in marriage rates is a major reason why happiness has declined across the country. The research, surveying thousands of respondents, revealed a staggering 30-percentage-point happiness gap between married and single Americans. This happiness enhancement is true for both men and women.”

Additionally, marital status is an important predictor of a whole host of important economic, emotional, and health outcomes for men and women.

“When it comes to predicting overall happiness, a good marriage is more important than how much education you get, how much money you make, how often you have sex, and, yes, even how satisfied you are with your job,” Wilcox writes.

At the Colson Center’s 2023 National Conference, Care Net President and CEO Roland Warren was part of a panel discussion titled “What the Family Reveals About God.” The panelists bemoaned the fact that the average age for marriage has risen to 30 years old despite data (presented by panelist JP De Gance) indicating that couples have higher satisfaction levels than unmarried couples, and children of married parents achieve better academically and have greater emotional and physical health.

Roland Warren says the Church and pro-life communities send mixed messages when it comes to the importance and value of marriage compared to career goals.

“We have bought the system of things in the world as the most important thing. Not biblical,” he said. “We don’t want our children to have sex, but we want them to wait until they are 30 before getting married. But we also don’t want them to date many people at once…”

“We should be leaning, supporting marriage, encouraging marriage. If we, as Christians, live out the Great Commission and the Great Commission within the context of marriage, it will be culturally beautiful.”

Wilcox, in an interview with Dr. Tony Rucinski of the UK’s Coalition for Marriage, said it would be good for the culture if we had “a revival of norms about commitment, norms about having children in marriage, and norms about fidelity.”

In his new book, and through his work with the National Marriage Project, Wilcox challenges the existing social narrative and promotes a renewed appreciation of the institution of marriage as the foundation of civilization.

“When we have good social relationships, especially in terms of marriage and family, we are more likely to thrive,” Wilcox said in an interview with Dr. Rucinski. “But those relationships tend to be better when we’re committed, when we have a spirit of generosity toward our spouse and our children.”

“Unfortunately, many young adults don’t think that way and don’t learn the skills that will prepare them to be good husbands and prepare them to be good parents. And that is a big challenge now.”

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