Divorce Proof Generation? How Millennials Approach ‘I Do’
“It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.”
The first moment we started making the topic of love a public debate rather than a simple, genuine feeling – we knew there’ll be trouble. With a generation swift, priorities have drastically changed, sincere feelings have got replaced for caution, tenderness got misunderstood for weakness and decisions are now being made solely on deep-thought rather than impulse.
It is safe to say that the generation that made things change are the Millennials.
One of the spheres a shift is more than evident is the arena of marriage; what’s been happening with the Millennials is that, everyone is either saying “No” to marriage altogether or they are waiting for what society might refer as the “last minute” to join in the holy matrimony.
Everyone’s been talking about it
With a recent piece in Time Magazine headlined, “Why 25 percent of Millennials will never get married— a new report from Pew Research predicts that more folks under 35 will be single forever,” the up-to-that-point a trend was turned into a fact with a tense media coverage.
Unlike their parents who used to get married in their early twenties (20 for women and 23 for men in 1960), Millennials are opting for exchanging their wedding vows no sooner than 27 for women and 29 for men (with rare exceptions) with an unprecedented portion of Millennials unmarried even until the age of 40. Millennials are rather opting for living together than sealing the deal.
With the idea and concept of marriage evolving drastically over time, the definition of marriage became so fluid that some partnerships are even inviting a third party into the mix. In sharp contradiction, though, under a ‘traditional’ marriage, that would be tantamount to adultery and a key reason for divorce. In a court of competent jurisdiction, the aggrieved spouse is responsible for providing evidence of the act. Such a spouse will need to know how to prove adultery if, indeed, it happened during the marriage. Perhaps, with all the nuances involved, some millennials feel the burden can be eased by not sealing the deal on paper. However, for those who have stayed “traditional”, the ideal is to first build a solid relationship based on mutual respect, support and friendship and then think about passion and love.
Why did Millennials fashion the idea of unofficial marriages?
In contrast to the patterns of the past, Millennials are self-sufficient, economically independent from their parents or partners and focused on their careers, too – not just building families. Also, growing up as kids whose parents would often divorce after 20 or so years of marriage, Millennials made it their business not to jump into anything unless they are absolutely sure of what they can expect from their partners. With a solid economic foundation, high levels of education and a swift in gender relationships, Millennials still treat marriage as a desired milestone, although – not a necessary one.
It appears that they’ve created a relationship vacuum of their own – they’ll be married to one another through commitment to stay together only, without necessary papers to confirm the love and devotion. Or – if it comes to signing – the deal is sealed with years of living together and sharing “the good and bad” in an unofficial marriage first. Rather than being a form of escapism from a particular life or a socially-conditioned narrative, marriage is now a choice.
Contrary to most of their parents who had been earnestly filing for divorce in Oregon in their fifties and sixties, with an almost sad enthusiasm for the life ahead of them (or what’s left of it), most Millennials’ marriages last longer or are for life, with no plans to divorce at sight.
How has the idea of marriage changed?
Modern social attitudes that reject any form of institution (and merely find them outdated), marriage included, is directly reflected in the Millennials’ attitudes towards a unity that’s supposed to last forever.
New ideas about romance and family are embraced with the knowledge that nothing is forever and to keep a relationship working, everyone needs to try hard and give their best. Millennials place emphasis on togetherness joined in effort and commitment to make things last.
Further, Millennials’ marriages rarely tolerate one working parent; the goal is to keep individuality in a marriage without renouncing everything you’ve been building until saying “I do”; Millennial parents want to be good role models for the kids who will grow up watching their parents stay committed to one another with the same passion as they will stay focused on their individual goals.