Everyone is after love. We all inherently know that love truly is what makes the world go ‘round. We seem to know without being taught that love is a force that pervades the universe. We know that a world without love is a darker world and this drives us to seek and to share love in our lives. We’re even beginning to genuinely discover that we cannot truly love others unless we love ourselves first and most fundamentally.
Love is the subject most written about in novels and songs. We think about it often. It’s seems very simple to us yet mysterious at the same time. And while we feel that love comes naturally to us, we grapple with what it really means and how we express it when we’re in love relationships.
Our society has constructed all kinds of walls and barriers in the form of rules around love although both Generation Z and the millennials are chipping away at them. As many question exactly why we’re all expected and trained to conform to these norms most especially around marriage we’re beginning to see new ways of living and loving demonstrated by the freer and more mindfully thinking population.
For example, millennials are rejecting traditional marriage in record numbers. The median age for a first marriage is now age 27 for women and 29 for men. In 1960, it was 20 for women and 23 for men.
Millennials are showing signs they’re wanting to allow the institution of marriage to evolve. And they’re tending to view marriage as an option rather than a necessity or that thing you just do. It isn’t that they’re not exploring love and relationships. They are. They’re merely recognizing more and more that marriage is a construct that boxes in their exploration of love and of themselves.
Says Brooke Genn, relationship coach, “It’s a fascinating happening, and an incredible opportunity for marriage to be redefined and approached with more reverence and mindfulness than ever before.”
It isn’t so much that most millennials don’t want to get married although a significant number of them do not. It’s more that they’re choosing to do it wisely—once they have careers well established, have satisfied many personal needs and have created a firm financial foundation. They want to gain a more established individual adult identity prior to marriage complete with more emotional development and self-awareness. And for many, their idea of what constitutes this more holistic foundation very often is preventing them from ever marrying.
Beyond finances, there’s a social component too. Millennials are beginning to perceive marriage as an outdated institution. Opting out of traditional marriage is their way of rebelling against institutions they do not entirely believe in. Moreover, national surveys show that half of American adults believe society is not adversely affected if people place other priorities above marriage and children, according to a recent Pew report.
Additionally, says Meg Murphy in Why Millennials Refuse to Get Married,
Marriage for legal, tax and economic, and religious and social purposes does not appeal to them as much as it did to their forebears.
Millennials have also witnessed a high degree of divorce among their parents and this makes them skittish about marriage. In their parents’ and earlier generations, people just got married and then worked to figure things out. Millennials are more about certainty, being deliberate and making the right decision therefore they’re slower to pull the trigger.
Should it come to marriage, millennials and even their predecessor Gen-Xers tend to shun divorce. University of Maryland professor Philip Cohen has found that from 2008 to 2016, the U.S. divorce rate has dropped by 18%. He says that the overall drop is driven entirely by younger women.
As our world continues to evolve, we’re finding we’re having to make shifts in how we do things—how we live, how we do business, how we communicate and interact with each other and more. We’re being required to make these shifts more frequently than decades ago and to table our judgment of what we sometimes view as seismic metamorphoses in favor of a “wait and see” approach. This begs an openness on our part to accept the winds of change making us more resilient beings and leaving our inner happiness and joy undisturbed. We’ll probably find that many of the evolutionary changes we’re witnessing today will eventually prove to work out just fine in the end.
Murphy, Meg. “NowUKnow: Why Millennials Refuse to Get Married.” PreparedU View | Bentley University, 3 Jan. 2019, www.bentley.edu/impact/articles/nowuknow-why-millennials-refuse-get-married.
Miller, Ryan W. “Add Divorce to the List of Things Millennials Are Killing.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 26 Sept. 2018, www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2018/09/26/millennials-blame-lower-us-divorce-rate-study/1429494002/.