»MORE: Low U.S. marriage rates linked to lack of 'economically attractive' men, study says
Dr. Christine Whelan of the University of Wisconsin also thinks the recent decline may simply be because people are following less traditional family paths.
"The idea of first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby — it could be any order you choose at this point. For the last couple decades, we've seen 'choose your own adventure' when it comes to marriage patterns." — Whelan, University of Wisconsin's School of Human Ecology
At her school, Whelan heads a department called the Money, Relationship and Equality Initiative. Her research has shown that finances are a crucial aspect of relationships, and conversations need to happen in order to take a relationship further.
"While chocolates are wonderful," she said in an interview with Public News Service, "if we want to get at the real thing that makes love work, it's understanding what matters to each of us in the relationship and spending our limited resources in keeping with what matters."
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Researchers expect marriage rates to continue to dwindle in the next few years.
The coronavirus pandemic is testing marriages in an unprecedented way. Between the cooped-up time indoors and the failing economy, the country is unlikely to see an uptick in weddings.
"A lot of it is the economy, and the extent to which COVID has a lasting effect on the economy, it might affect family formation," Curtin told The Wall Street Journal.
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