4 Ways Millennials Are Changing Marriage


According to the Gallup, 59% of Millennials have never been married. Raise your hand if you're a 20- or 30-something and your parents are hounding you to settle down and give them grandchildren. Oy, that's a lot of hands. Make sure they understand the four ways Millennials are changing marriage.

Marrying Later

It should be no surprise that the youngest generation is marrying later, as this has been a steady trend over the past few generations. However, the number of people born between 1980 and 2000 who are married is even lower than expected.

Why wait? Wages are stagnant. More young people are saddled with college debt. More young people are taking longer to earn enough money just to leave their parents' home. More young people are dating longer, and waiting for the right one. Couples are living together longer while putting off a wedding. When you don't have a lot of money, support, or time, the idea of spending a ton of time and money planning a wedding doesn't sound so romantic and fun.

Marrying Interracially and LGBT

It's crucial that we see where Millennials are pushing the ball forward, and one of those areas is in continuing the fight against assortative mating, which likely deepens economic inequality. One of the best ways to track this is with interracial dating and marriage.

Pew Research Center in 2013 learned that 6.3% of all newlyweds married a person who was outside of their race. While America has a long history of structural racism that Millennials also take part in, it is worth pointing out the big gains this generation has made in making marriage about love and not rules based on prejudice.

It's also worth pointing out that 71% of American Millennials now support same sex marriage, in contrast to only 55% of the general population overall. Marriage is getting more open and inclusive of all types of Americans, and you can thank Millennials for helping that happen faster.

Marrying With Prenuptial Agreements

This may not be relevant to your average couple living within the median income bracket, but it's an interesting one. According to some lawyers, more Millennials are cool with locking in a contract before the big day. Apparently, just over half of lawyers in a poll cited that they saw an uptick in prenuptial agreements in young couples, and only 2% of lawyers cited a decrease in prenups.

Why could that be? One theory is that Millennials are entering marriages older and are more willing to have the tough pre-nup conversations. Another is that they are more protective of whatever wealth they have managed to hold onto, and are worried to repeat the mistakes of their parents. Whatever the reason and however you feel about prenups, it's sign that Millennials are more responsible than the media makes them out to be.

Not Marrying at All

Gasp! Clutch your pearls, but marriage is just not going to happen for a lot of people. According to the Olin College of Engineering, the number of both men and women projected to stay unmarried continues to increase. Professor Downey found that if men were born in the '90s, 30% of them will be unmarried by age 43. For women born in the 1990s, 36% of them are expect to be unmarried by age 43. That's in comparison to 17% of both men and women who were born in the 1970s going unmarried by the same age.

Why? Marriage is very personal, and everyone's reasons could very well be different. That said, it's likely that the reasons many Millennials cite for delaying marriage would be the very same reasons some never do it at all. We've learned through myriad surveys, polls, and studies that most Millennials claim to have inherited a less economically stable world than their parents. Since marriage itself is in many ways an economic arrangement, how can we blame them?

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Guest's picture

I think the reason for more prenups is that divorce is a more acceptable option for many Millennials than for previous generations. Bottom line: If you go into a marriage believing that you will never get a divorce, then there's no need to consider a prenup. But if you go into a marriage with divorce on the table, then of course you're going to protect your assets.

Guest's picture

"Claim"? I mean, well done for spotting that people are poorer nowadays, but it's not like millennials are imagining their lower wages and poorer circumstances. Also, Taryn, I think divorce is a good thing. Did you know that female suicide rates dropped at the same time that no fault divorce was legalised?