Most Americans marry just once, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The survey of 3 million households shows 76 percent of those who have ever been married have married only once.
Nearly 20 percent have been married twice, and 5 percent have been married three or more times. The Census also reported that the average U.S. marriage lasts 18.2 years.
Carl Haub, senior demographer for the Population Reference Bureau, said that many people stay together until their children are grown or semi-independent but that people may also be waiting longer to get married. "Childbearing … tends to come more in the 30s than it does in the 20s," he said. "Probably also there (are) more unmarried couples who are raising children."
Glenn Stanton, director of Global Family Formation Studies at Focus on the Family, said that while the Census data seem positive, you can't ignore that delaying marriage has a downside as well. "There is a good part of that in that maturity and 'settledness,'" he said. "But there's also a negative side in that the longer you live by yourself, the more individualistic you come. And the enemy of marriage is individualism."
Jenny Tyree, marriage analyst for Focus on the Family Action, said the Census research shows the respect people have for the institution of marriage. "Most Americans esteem marriage as a major commitment," she said. "And, for better or worse, they are reluctant to commit themselves to marriage again and risk failure a second time."