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Love, marriage and Cupid

Everything's coming up roses.

At a time many perceive love and marriage - and love in marriage - to be on the decline, along comes heartening empirical evidence to the contrary. A query of 1,014 adults showed 90 percent of married men and 88 percent of married women would wed their spouses again.Of course, there was no indication of whether those spouses were standing by when their husbands or wives responded to the question. For the sake of romance and the credibility of the pollsters - Scripps Howard News Service and Ohio University - we will assume they were not.

Eighty-one percent of married couples said they plan to celebrate St. Valentine's Day with presents of candy, flowers or romantic dinners. Hubba-hubba.

Part of the declining faith in marriage stems from the fact only 60 percent of all U.S. adults were married in 1996, down from 62 percent in 1990 and 66 percent in 1980. Another 3.7 million unmarried Americans live with someone of the opposite sex, up from 523,000 in 1970. Social woes stemming from the lack of stable families, bonded by marriage, are well-documented.

Cupid still has his work cut out for him, however. Among single people, only about half want to marry. One-fourth prefer to remain single, and the remainder are uncertain or consider themselves too old to wed.

And within marriage, only 38 percent believe "people are as romantic as ever," while 49 percent suspect "romance is on the decline in America." Today, being Valentine's Day, is as good a time as any to begin reversal of that trend and to infuse marriage and courtship with a healthy dose of romance.