Marriages in recent years are lasting longer than ones from previous generations. The statistic can be traced to two millennial behavioral patterns: marrying later in life or not marrying at all. We are indeed in a liberated period, but isn’t it worth knowing the rationality behind these life decisions? If you think about it, these shared life views are rather sensible:
The Stark Difference
The dip is noticeable partly because the generations that precede them, especially the boomers, incurred the highest divorce rates in history. These are couples pushing to ages 60 and above today. Divorce lawyers purport that this gray divorce phenomenon happens far more often than those within the same age range in previous generations.
When boomer parents always esteemed the “until death do us part” vow in their relationship, boomer couples themselves stirred the pot with women challenging their submissive roles and men standing their dominant ground. These days, though, men and women are inching closer to the consensus that those archetypal gender roles do not work anymore.
Many millennials spent their childhood witnessing parents separate and eventually divorce. Growing up, emotional support was not adequate, and they witnessed their solo parent struggle to make ends meet. No wonder there grew a common distaste against marriage if not, an aspiration to do better as the spouses and parents of the next generation. That is so that their kids do not have to witness their parents separating and bear the mental brunt for life.
They would rather divert their energy to anything outside the home like their education or work while studying and eventually learn the ropes of self-support. Consequently, this led to a general preference to marry much later in life. Marrying and having kids in one’s 30s has become commonplace because this is usually when a person has already established themselves financially.
Thirst for Experience
Millennials embrace their individualism and refuse to be bound by societal expectations that, for them, caused the most common family issues, including parent separation and child abandonment. In a protesting fashion, they invest in fun and unique experiences like traveling, playing games, and learning crafts. Often, they realize it’s much better to be free to do things they truly want rather than indefinitely being tied to a commitment like a marriage.
Aspiring for Stability
The drop in divorce rates among millennials can also be attributed to the maturing married population who, most often than not, are at the stage of completing higher levels of education. The same people perceive marriage as an achievement supplementary to an academic degree and a high-paying job. Marriage today is almost like an exclusive trophy that only those that can afford it can acquire.
Whereas marrying was a rite of passage anyone went through regardless of their life status back then. It has always been viewed as a stepping stone to a better life rather than a pinnacle to success. Couples who married at a relatively younger age would then navigate their careers in a more team-like fashion.
Today, women are gaining equal ground as men in married relationships. As much as men, they have an equal voice in the household, capable of juggling work and caring for their children. Mutual respect has, therefore, grown between wives and their husbands. Now, women with their newfound independence no longer have to choose between submitting to a patriarchal union or overall ditching the idea of marriage.
On the other hand, millennials who belong to the less affluent and non-degree holding population often choose not to get married. The decision comes from the realistic view of being tied to a life of financial distress the moment they start a family. If anything, the trend reveals a widened disparity between income classes.
Open to Options
Today, couples are more receptive to options like living under the same roof without necessarily being married. Another practice that is becoming more commonplace is an unconsummated marriage. Still, other married couples would rather either extend their honeymoon period to years or sort out their finances first for the newcomer in the family.
We can learn a lot about how millennials look at marriage. If anything, their decision reinforces the truth that marriage is a big responsibility, and they are humble and wise enough not to jump into the wagon so quickly. They have internalized the stakes involved in getting married and, more so, those getting out of it. It wouldn’t hurt to take a leaf out of their book and see marriage for what it is and what it can be.