Decision making about sexual practices and family formation has become complex for those who identify with counter-cultural and sub-cultural groups (or who simply ascribe to traditional views about sexuality and family life). The widening gap between modern and traditional family norms and values has created an internal dissonance between societal and group specific beliefs about many aspects of sex, marriage, and family.
The majority of the world’s population, however, still identifies with a religious group and 80 percent of young adults hold marriage to be an important part of their life plans, even as practices such as cohabitation have become normative. This suggests that there is a dissonance between many young adults professed beliefs and goals and their practices. It is unclear, for example, how many young people and adults know how cohabitation could impact their future marriage. Presently, it has been found that cohabitation increases a couple’s chances of breaking up or not marrying. If they do marry, it decreases the quality of their marriage, while increasing their risk of divorce. Greater awareness about both the benefits and consequences of the current normative practices in the realm of sexuality and family life, and about the ways religious beliefs influence adherents’ family formation decisions will be vital in assisting individuals to meet their relationship and marital goals.
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