If you noticed you’re not invited to as many weddings as you used to be, it’s not just a coincidence. Though marriage was a staple in society several decades ago, the times are rapidly changing — and people today are seeing wedding bells in a different light.
Is it that our thirst for romance is lost, or could it be something more? There are actually quite a few reasons for less trips to the alter. And one is particularly troubling.
How important is marriage today?
Is tying the knot becoming rare due to fewer folks believing in the sanctity of marriage altogether? (Millennials, we’re looking at you.) After all, as The New York Times notes, a trip to the alter is risky. The divorce rate remains high, and having children out of wedlock is no longer taboo, so why bother with the official papers?
Here’s the thing — the current demographics find 80% of Americans will marry at some point, despite more progressive views. But more people are marrying now as validation for their friends and family that yes, despite it all, they’ve made it. So it is still an important aspect of society, just for different reasons than it was in decades past.
Financial stability is a huge factor
TIME reports Pew Research data suggests financial stability has a lot to do with whether or not couples are choosing to marry. And as Forbes says, there’s a high rate of unemployment among the younger generations. While the national unemployment average is hovering around 5%, the rate for millennials is at a staggering 12.8%. And with student loans piling up as younger folks are still struggling to get out of their parents’ homes and on their own two feet, marriage seems more like a pipe dream.
And finding that perfect match is tough
The first step to even considering marriage is finding the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. And for young people today, that seems to be a tall order.
It’s not that millennials are only having casual encounters — research actually shows young people today are having less casual sex than previous generations, says Psychology Today. It seems the real problem is the dozens of apps and dating sites are giving people too many options. And since apps like Tinder are the norm, meeting people outside of the comfort of a screen is also tougher for millennials.
Young couples are less likely to own property, too
As The Washington Post notes, millennials aren’t buying property, and U.S. home ownership all around has dropped to historic lows. And it seems young people aren’t renting, either. Instead, more and more of them are choosing to live at home rather than finding living arrangements with roommates or shacking up with a romantic partner.
So, what’s the hold up with owning property? Student loans and lack of financial success, of course, come into play here. And since many millennials view homeownership as a prerequisite to marriage, this is keeping many of them from tying the knot as well.
The startling reason: Millennials aren’t ready to settle down
As TIME notes, a surprising number of 20 and 30-somethings aren’t getting married for one simple reason: They’re not ready to settle down. In previous generations, the concept of someone nearly 30 years old who’s not ready to shack up and plan a family was unheard of. But today, less financial independence and living with mom and dad have taken a toll on the younger crowd.
Business Insider says it’s also worth noting many millennials’ parents are divorced, making the idea of settling down with one partner seem unrealistic and not ideal.
Getting married after 35 is riskier than marriage in your 20s
The older and wiser you are, the better your decision-making skills are, yes? While this line of thought makes sense, Psychology Today says researcher Nicholas Wolfinger finds your marriage may be more likely to last if you tie the knot in your late 20s rather than your mid-30s or later. And the best age to get married is right between 28 and 32.
So, what’s the reason marrying later in life isn’t necessarily better? Wolfinger speculates 30-somethings are already financially stable, so there’s less at stake if they do decide to marry. And there also may be less eligible bachelors and bachelorettes after a certain age, too.
Marriage is hard work, but there are proven advantages
Aside from the comfort of having a partner to go through life with, there are a variety of health benefits to being married. As Robert H. Shmerling, M.D., writes for Harvard Health Publishing, people who are married tend to live longer. They also have a reduced risk of heart attack, stroke, and depression. But Shmerling notes this isn’t true for all marriages, as those who are constantly stressed by their relationship may not see these advantages. It seems being in a healthy and happy relationship is what matters most.
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