Hear that, baby boomers? We’re doing something right. It’s no secret that millennials get a lot of flack from the older generation for various reasons, but a recent study makes it pretty clear that there’s at least one thing we’re doing a good job at—we’re not rushing into marriage.
And for that reason, divorce rates are taking a dip. You’re welcome.
A recent Bloomberg article states, “Generation X and especially millennials are being pickier about who they marry, tying the knot at older ages when education, careers and finances are on track. The result is a U.S. divorce rate that dropped 18 percent from 2008 to 2016, according to an analysis by University of Maryland sociology professor Philip Cohen.”
As a millennial myself, and a female one at that, this news didn’t come as a shock to me, because I’m living proof of the theory behind why this is. Like many other singles who have surpassed their late 20s and continue to be single, I’ve been on the receiving-end of innumerable criticism and conversations that consisted of remarks like, “Why aren’t you married yet? When are you going to settle down? You’re being too picky.”
Oh, I’m sorry. You’re right. I should just marry the first guy who seems decent. That’s healthy.
The stigma that lingers, for women especially, to tie the knot as soon as possible, as if that is the sole purpose of our existence, is so archaic it’s laughable. Why do we continue to assume that there can’t possibly be any other goals we want to achieve before becoming a missus and popping out some kids? Regardless of others’ “concern,” I refused to adhere to society’s timeline of my life, and instead choose to focus on what feels best for me. And I see so many others doing the same.
Cohen’s study shows that the divorce rate’s decline isn’t a reflection of a decline in marriages, but evidence that the marriages today have a greater chance of lasting than the marriages of 10 years ago. Cohen credits that decline to the married population “getting older and more highly educated,” telling Bloomberg, “Marriage is more and more an achievement of status, rather than something that people do regardless of how they’re doing.”
We are moving toward a time that celebrates self-awareness and growth over blind cooperation in traditional lifestyles.
“The change among young people is particularly striking,” Susan Brown, a sociology professor at Bowling Green State University, told Bloomberg of Cohen’s results. “The characteristics of young married couples today signal a sustained decline [in divorce rates] in the coming years.”
Getting married may have been the be-all-end-all back in the day for understandable reasons, but the tide has shifted, and to ignore that is to ignore the great strides that have helped push our evolution as individuals. Marriage is not just a box to check off our list so that we feel worthy and validated. It’s more than a Facebook status update or Pinterest boards. This is choosing someone to spend the rest of your life with, a person you’ll potentially raise children with. It’s a considerable investment monetarily, emotionally and otherwise.
If something is such a big freaking deal, why would we ever take it lightly?
For so many generations, people weren’t even able to grasp their own individuality before becoming branded as a part of a couple. How do you know the type of person you want to spend the rest of your life with when you haven’t taken the time to know yourself?
As millennials, many of us experienced the repercussions of that, either with our parents or other loved ones who ended up growing apart instead of growing together. Will waiting longer guarantee that won’t happen to us? Of course not. But we’re definitely going to be more conscious of how we choose to design our lives.
We’re also not blind to the fact that we have more options and opportunities than the generations before us, and it’d be a disservice not to leverage these circumstances to the betterment of ourselves. We’re able to gain access to higher education. We have the ability to create abundant careers that break out of the normal corporate structure. We can wait to get married and have kids until we’re actually ready in every way possible.
This study may focus on divorce rates, but the story it tells is much greater. It tells us that we are moving toward a time that celebrates self-awareness and growth over blind cooperation in traditional lifestyles.
We are changing that. Millennials are changing that. Because we actually want to know what it’s like to truly experience life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness on our terms, and by doing that, we create lasting effects that will benefit the generations that come after us.