Why Are More American Women Living Without a Husband?

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," January 16, 2007, that has been edited for clarity.

JOHN GIBSON, HOST: Today's "Big Talker": men. Women can't live with them and can't live without them. Or can they?

For the first time ever, more American women are living without a husband than with one. According to The New York Times census results, 51 percent of women say they're living without a spouse, making married couples a minority in American households for the first time ever.

Why are more and more women living without a husband? And is the institution of marriage becoming a thing of the past? With me now is relationship expert Logan Levkoff.

So just in terms of the pure numbers, why are there more women without husbands? They're not getting married or they're...

LOGAN LEVKOFF, RELATIONSHIP EXPERT: Some women are getting married much later in life. Some of them aren't getting remarried. And then women who have lost their spouses aren't necessarily going back to find another love of their lives.

GIBSON: I've put this up on the screen: women without men, burden or freedom?

LEVKOFF: Freedom and burden, depending on how you look at it. The perception of marriage is changing. What women needed marriage for — financial security, personal security, to legitimize wanting to have sex for the first time — women don't need those things as much anymore. So they're waiting a long time to go after and get them.

GIBSON: And is there a sense among women that they simply don't need men?

LEVKOFF: There is a part of that. But I think that women still want to be partnered but they want to find the right person. And with divorce rates being so sky-high, they really are looking for the right person as opposed to just any person.

GIBSON: We all look at these figures and when you see something like this for the first time ever in American history — there are more unmarried women than married — it gives you a sense that something dramatic has changed. Is there something really different?

LEVKOFF: Something huge is going on. Women are becoming independent. They're realizing that they're entitled to a lot of things on their own, whether its work, some are waiting to have children, some are choosing that motherhood really isn't for them and they're not going through those paths.

I think that part of the problem with marriage sometimes is that people so rush to get married that they forget that it's about them, too, and they have to know who they are first before they partner up with someone.

GIBSON: Well, is this more about women who are choosing not to marry men or the men they're choosing not to marry?

LEVKOFF: I think it's probably both.

GIBSON: What is it about the men that they don't want to marry them anymore?

LEVKOFF: Part of it is our celebrity culture. We see perfect male specimens. Women are looking for that sometimes. And relationships aren't perfect. It's the quirks that make them successful. But if you're looking to find the "A" category in everything, it's just not going to happen.

GIBSON: The perfect male specimen?

LEVKOFF: The perfect male specimen, right. That's sometimes how men look at us, so now the tables are turning just a little bit.

GIBSON: Logan Levkoff, relationship expert with "The Big Story's" "Big Talker" today. Logan, thanks very much.


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