Despite the recent trend of young engagements in Hollywood, like those between Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin or Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner, millennials in general are waiting longer to get married compared to previous generations. Marriage has become less of a priority in American society and is not as highly regarded as once before. In this day and age, women and men have many reasons to wait to tie the knot rather than forge a lifelong commitment.
A Pew Report showed that half of American adults believe “society is just as well off if people have priorities other than marriage and children.” Young people in their 20s may wish to further their careers and become financially secure before jumping into a marriage right away. From 1970 to today, the average age of marriage has gone up from 23 to 29.5 for men and 20.8 to 27.4 for women. This period is indicative of when women were increasingly entering the workforce, causing them to hit the pause button on settling down.
“People, specifically women are more professionally driven and both men and women are pursuing higher degrees because jobs are looking for them. They want a set career plan before considering a significant other,” said Jessika Kutreyan, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore.
A study from Pew Research Center showed that, out of three reasons not to get married, 29 percent of millennials feel like they aren’t financially ready for marriage. Out of college, people are faced with student debt and are trying to find a financial footing in their lives. With women also being more educated and putting more focus on their careers, they are less financially-dependent. Getting married and starting a family is no longer a necessity and more of a financial bearing.
People are now taking time to learn more about themselves and figure out what they want. According to The New York Times, sociologist Andrew Cherlin from John opkins asserted “marriage is something you do when you have the whole rest of your personal life in order.” Since marriage is no longer a social requirement, millennials are choosing to invest their time in developing their identities outside of relationships.
Millennials have also shown to prefer staying in a relationship for a while and seriously getting to know a person before marrying. American couples between ages 25 to 34 knew each other for an average of six years before marrying, eHarmony reported. The perception of marriage has also changed for these age groups. The previously-prized institution is no longer seen as a means to developing a lasting relationship, but an economic and legal binding.
The culture of dating in this generation has also shifted toward hooking up and short-term relationships rather than long-term. People don’t consider serious relationships until later on, with the availability of dating apps like Tinder. Singles in their 20s are happy with dating around and are not necessarily looking for an end-game. Match.com reported millennials are slightly more likely to have a friends-with-benefits relationship evolve in a committed one.
“This generation of millenials have been raised by the past generation that experienced a wave of feminism and sexual liberation, so they’re allowed to date more freely,” said Emma Young, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore.
Along with dating freedom, resources such as contraceptives and abortions are allowing women to postpone getting married and starting a family. Since there are preventive measures for having children, women are no longer forced into a situation they are not ready for. The implications of bearing children today are also different than before.
“Children are no longer as desirable as before because they no longer work for the family,” Kutreyan added.
Marriage is clearly no longer a social construct but a personal choice for millennials. Carefully planning out your life before marriage seems like the way to go in order to avoid complications later on. With individuals more career-driven than before, romantic commitment serves as a roadblock for them to accomplish other things. Either way, millennials are defining marriage on their own terms.