The Institute for American Values and the National Marriage Project publish a yearly "State of our Unions" report on marriage in the U.S. Their 2011 report focused on three themes: the transition to parenthood, number of children and marital satisfaction, and social indicators of marital well-being. The authors report that, on average, married parents are more likely than their childless peers to feel their lives have a sense of meaning and purpose and they generally experience more happiness and less depression than unmarried parents. The key to their success in combining marriage and parenthood is that they did relatively better in ten aspects of their social lives and relationships (e.g., marital generosity, shared housework, religious faith, sexual satisfaction, commitment, daily time with children). Also, couples with no children and couples with 4+ children report being most satisfied with their marriages (compared to those with 1-3 children). As well, the authors note that recent shifts in American relationships (i.e., marriage, divorce, unmarried cohabitation, loss of child-centeredness, fragile families with children, and teen attitudes about marriage and family) point to a trend of weakening in marriage and families. These findings highlight that marriage and relationship education is both necessary and significant in improving marital satisfaction, strengthening marital stability, and in providing a healthy family for children.
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The State of Our Unions 2011: The Social Health of Marriage in America: When Baby Makes Three: How Parenthood Makes Life Meaningful and How Marriage Makes Parenthood Bearable.