Students fight negative marriage trends

Marriage in today’s society seems to be declining, but despite the negative statistics, there are some students who are still pursuing it.

Katherine Perritt, a sophomore communication science and disorders student at Florida State University from Tallahassee, said she is happily engaged to her fiancé.

Although Perritt has been engaged for nearly two months to the only person she has ever dated, Josh LaJeunesse, a recent FSU graduate, she has been asked by many curious people, “How do you know?”

“As weird as it sounds,” Perritt said, “I kinda always knew.”.

Perritt and LaJeunesse have been together for four and a half years. Perritt believes the time invested into their relationship was valuable.

A random survey conducted at Florida A&M to review the ages that students prefer to marry showed that 10 female students between ages 18 and 22 preferred on average to marry at the age of 26 and for 10 male students, by the age of 28. Many desired to start their careers and create a stable financial life before marriage.

Perritt and LaJeunesse will not marry until Perritt completes college. Perritt will continue to work toward her degree in Tallahassee while LaJeunesse lives in New Orleans.

She feels this will create a stronger bond for the relationship and their Christian beliefs will continue to keep them strong.

“We both believe that divorce is not even an option,” Perritt said.

A record-low 51 percent of American adults were married in 2010, according to the most recent data on marriage trends from Pew Research Center’s  December 2011 study. The study compared 2010 to 1960, when 72 percent of Americans were married.

Richard Albertson, a marriage counselor and founding president and CEO of Live the Life, said cohabitation has a created a major effect on the delay of marriage.

Albertson said studies have shown an increase in couples living together before marriage, and cohabitation is not the best choice for couples.

“The trend toward cohabitation is not a healthy one,” Albertson said. “Cohabitation is very destructive to the fabric of healthy marriages and families.”


Albertson believes cohabitation creates a low-commitment environment in relationships.

According to the book “Knot Yet: The Benefits and Cost of Delayed Marriage in America,” cohabiting men and women who have a child in their 20s are three times more likely to break up before their child’s fifth birthday than are married couples.”

Albertson added that younger people are taking a backward approach on relationships.

“Most relationships among young people start off on a physical foundation and then try to move toward commitment, reliability, learning to trust one another and getting to know each other,” Albertson said.

His advice before becoming physical in a relationship is taking it slow and learning about the person. Starting off physical can make physical interaction the primary focus in a relationship.

Starting physical was not an option for Nathaniel Hargraves, an associate wealth management adviser at Northwestern Mutual who is also engaged. Hargraves proposed to Alycia Gant, a fourth-year computer information student from Moultrie, Ga., at FAMU four months ago.

The couple met through a mutual friend while they lived thousands of miles apart. Hargraves, who lives in Indianapolis, and Gant communicated through the telephone and social media outlets, such as Skype. Unlike traditional dating where couples can meet in person, Hargraves took advantage of learning about Gant mentally and emotionally.

“Everything is focused on the emotional and mental part of the relationship, and really that’s the part of the relationship that makes things last,” Hargraves said.

They have been together for nine months and plan to wait until Gant graduates next year before they marry. Hargraves has experienced many obstacles that he believes has made him mature and comfortable to make this decision now.

“You should not limit your life and your ability to enjoy it by putting things on hold that you are ready to do,” Hargraves said.

He said he believes distance can be beneficial to a relationship and that the time apart can reveal the true essence of a relationship. For Hargraves, marriage is not based on emotion but choice.

“I am choosing to love this person,” Hargraves said. “I am choosing to give up myself for her.”