With the rate of divorce on the rise it’s amazing the people still get married daily. IT’S surprising how many people still marry. As everyone knows, it’s a risky proposition; the divorce rate, though down from its peak of one in two marriages in the early 1980s, remains substantial. Besides, you can have a perfectly respectable life these days without marrying.

When the Pew Research Center asked a sample of Americans in 2010 what they thought about the “growing variety in the types of family arrangements that people live in,” 34 percent responded that it was a good thing, and 32 percent said it made no difference. Having a child outside of marriage has also become common. According to a report by the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, 47 percent of American women who give birth in their 20s are unmarried at the time.

And still, demographers project that at least 80 percent of Americans will marry at some point in their lives.

Why?

The answer is that Americans are now marrying for a different reason. Marriage has become a status symbol — a highly regarded marker of a successful personal life. This transformed meaning is evident in the Obama administration’s briefs in the two same-sex marriage cases now in front of the Supreme Court. Those documents reflect, in part, the assumption that marriage represents not only a bundle of rights but also a privileged position.