You’ve seen their social media feeds and probably even met them in person. They are the new generation of happy millennial couples we see everywhere today. Most of them work in the tech industry, live in urban centers, and are part of a new wave of young people who have decided to marry their long-term partners before they reach 30.
The marriage rate among this cohort has dropped significantly since the end of World War II until recently. But why? In her book “ENDENDENDEND: The New Culture of Committing to Someone Forever,” author Danielle Garfunkel explains that millennials — those born from 1980 to 1999 — have been influenced by the digital age and its many pitfalls when it comes to love and marriage.
She points out that with social media we have more access than ever before to others’ highlight reels and seemingly perfect lives, which can give users an unrealistic expectation about what finding a partner should be like. Additionally, there is a lack of trust between millennials due to widespread cheating scandals (including several involving famous celebrities), as well as growing student debt, which makes it more difficult for young people to afford to buy homes or start families.
Finally, a sense of panic over real-world implications from past generations who were unable to find partners due to gender roles and other societal factors has also made millennials hesitant about getting married at all.
What millennial couples want from marriage
Marriage has evolved greatly since the 1950s when couples in the United States typically married in their mid-20s. In 2010, the median age at first marriage was 27 for men and 26 for women. This rise in the age at first marriage is due in part to more education and the increasing number of couples who live together before marriage. Young couples today have different expectations from marriage than previous generations, which has affected the way they choose to get married. Millennials are more interested in prioritizing shared interests, companionship and mutual support in a relationship. Many millennials also expect a long engagement before getting married, and many have chosen to forego the engagement ring tradition altogether.
The millennial wedding: Why people still get married
Millennials have shown a strong preference for eloping, often forgoing the pomp and circumstance of a big wedding, which can be expensive and stressful for families to plan. The average cost of a wedding in the United States is $35,000, with many couples spending much more. Although the Great Recession of 2008 may have played a role in the reduction in the number of people getting married between 2009 and 2010, the decline in the number of marriages has continued to drop even as the economy has recovered. Weddings are changing, though. Couples are now opting for cheaper and more personalized weddings, and they are getting married at an older age than people did in the past.
why many millennial couples don’t want to get married
There are many reasons why millennials are choosing cohabitation over getting married. Some may not be financially or emotionally ready for the lifelong commitment of marriage. Some may be afraid of divorce since rates of divorce have been rising since the 1980s and about 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. Others may be choosing cohabitation because they are waiting for same-sex marriage to be legalized nationwide. In fact, only 29 percent of people aged 18 to 29 support the idea of marriage. And while not everyone in this age group is single, many millennials are choosing to stay unattached, either by choice or circumstance.
The intended movement is about embracing the uncertainty of the future and putting trust and faith in your partner to be there for you no matter what. Couples who practice endendEND believe in the power of open and honest communication and the importance of being together for the long haul. The three steps to a happy marriage proposed by Garfunkel are Commit, Explore and Stay. Commit to your partner, explore what it means to be married — be it moving in together, getting engaged, buying a house together or starting a family — and stay together through the ups and downs of life.
Three steps for a happy marriage
Commit: Talk about your short- and long-term goals, and commit to each other. Be transparent with your partner, and don’t be afraid to have difficult conversations. Explore: What does it mean to be married? If you’re dating, what does it mean to be in a serious relationship? If you’re married, what does it mean to be married? What are your hopes, dreams, and fears? Stay: Stay committed to your partner through the ups and downs of life. This means putting in the work to make your relationship stronger.
Despite the rise of the intended movement, the majority of millennials still want to get married. In fact, a study from the University of Utah found that millennials are more likely to want to marry than previous generations. If you are in a serious relationship, it’s never too early to think about your future together. Although commitment is scary, it’s important to talk with your significant other about what you expect from each other, what you want for your future together, and how you can support each other as individuals and as a couple.