In response to decreasing marriage rates among childbearing couples, public policy has sought to reinforce the notion that marriage and fatherhood are a package deal. However, what remains unclear is whether the ideology and values of the policymakers promoting marriage and fatherhood as a package deal represent the values of the men targeted by the policy initiatives. In an attempt to respond to this question, this preliminary study presents the findings from a qualitative analysis of 33 African American adult males’ attitudes toward marriage and romantic relationships. The findings revealed that most of the sample conceptualized marriage and fatherhood as a package deal, but many of the men’s transition to marriage was facilitated by their engaged fathering, which is contrary to the philosophy espoused in the initiatives promoted by the marriage movement. This disconnect and its implications for policy are also discussed.

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