Foundational institutions such as marriage, once highly prized in America, have grown cheap, at least in some circles — and they appear to be getting cheaper as some individuals as well as society apparently place more value on material possessions.
Experts say that society is suffering as a result.
“Highly materialistic people have lower marital satisfaction and those people who value money and material possessions place less value on their relationships,” Dr. Ashley LeBaron-Black, assistant professor at Brigham Young University’s School of Family Life, told Fox News Digital.
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LaBaron-Black, based in Provo, Utah, authored a recent study entitled, “Money Over Marriage,” with colleagues Jason Carroll and Heather Kelley.
It dove deep into the data behind the problem.
“Materialism is not an isolated life priority; as the pursuit of money and worldly possessions are prioritized, other dimensions of life are necessarily deemphasized,” the authors wrote.
High-profile examples of the low value of relationships seem to surround us.
Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine ignited social media scandal amid recent accusations of cheating on his pregnant wife, Behati Prinsloo, with model and social media influencer Sumner Stroh.
Meanwhile, power couple Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen, who appear to have it all — beauty, money, fame, success — may be heading for divorce, according to many headlines.
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And the revolving-door social life of Kim Kardashian and other celebrities highlight cheap, disposable relationships.
A new unscientific survey by online retailer Yellow Octopus underscored the declining value of our love. It found that 39% of respondents would forgive an unfaithful companion in exchange for “lavish” gifts.
But “lavish” is a relative term.
“It’s worrisome that … priceless elements of a relationship like trust and loyalty can be bought.”
The report said that 32% of not-so-heartbroken people would let bygones be bygones in exchange for a new cell phone; 21% could have their loyalty assuaged by event tickets; and 18% could look past the transgression with a gift of video games.
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“That’s pretty shocking and worrisome,” said BYU’s LeBaron-Black, commenting on the unscientific study.
“It’s worrisome that those priceless elements of a relationship like trust and loyalty can be bought.”
She added, “Kids tend to really flourish when they’re in stable home environments. Adults also tend to do better when they’re in a happy, committed, stable relationship.”
Even so, marriage itself, once seen as the most fundamental building block of society, appears to be losing value, at least by examining pop culture.
“Kids tend to really flourish when they’re in stable home environments. Adults also tend to do better when they’re in a happy, committed, stable relationship.”
Many of the Hollywood elite have long made a mockery of marriage.
Martin Scorse has been married five times; the late Elizabeth Taylor walked the aisle eight times; and apparent record holder Zsa Zsa Gabor heard wedding bells ring nine times.
“A girl must marry for love,” the late Hungarian-American actress Gabor once famously said, “and keep on marrying until she finds it.”
Consumers appear to be following Hollywood’s lead — and that’s bad for society, said LeBaron-Black.
“The further we stray from those stable individual relationships, [the more this] ends up influencing societal outcomes and societal norms,” she told Fox News Digital.
“The trajectory of the individuals in aggregate become the trajectory of society itself.”
The data shows that divorce rates have stabilized in recent years.
“This me-first mentality has replaced more traditional family and communal values.”
But the age at which people marry has steadily increased. I
t’s now 30 years old for a man, 28 years for a woman.
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Marriage rates are at an all-time low, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
Birth rates are plummeting. They’re down 4% from 2020 to 2021, according to a report from the Institute for Family Studies; it’s the sharpest year-to-year decline in nearly half a century.
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“This me-first mentality has replaced more traditional family and communal values,” the report stated.
“There is a dwindling interest in marriage and parenthood, especially among young adults, even those who are financially secure,” the same report found.