Millennials are killing marriage — here’s why that’s a good thing
When Erin Lowry, 28, author of Broke Millennial, marries her partner of eight years this September, they both will be nearly 30 and will have been dating for eight years.
That’s nearly 2.5 times the national average time spent dating before marriage, but Lowry said she has no regrets. She said marriage has long been part of the plan for the couple, but they both wanted to finish their degrees, get settled into careers, and her partner wanted to attack his student loans before they committed to marriage.
“For us, we’ll enter marriage in a stable and healthy financial situation, even though he has some student loan debts, and we know that being open with each other about money and being in a good situation does automatically remove some of the common tension of marriage,” she said.
The millennials who “refuse to get married” trend is not necessarily a bad move, a new study from dating site eHarmony found: It showed the longer people wait to marry, the happier they are in relationships. The survey, conducted by Harris Insights & Analytics, surveyed people on the success of their relationships and found that couples who waited longer after meeting and got to know each other before marrying scored higher on a “happiness index.” In fact, the unhappiest group said they got married because “it was time,” while the happiest cited “love.”
“There is pressure from culture and family and friends to pick somebody to marry at a certain time,” Grant Langston, chief executive officer of eHarmony said. “That is a terrible idea — people need to push back on that idea because relationships prove more successful if they do.”
Lowry is one of many people in her age group waiting longer to tie the knot. The average age for marriage is now 27 for women and 29 for men compared to 21 years for women and 23 years old for men in 1963 — and that is if they get married at all. Only two in five millennials were married in 2015, compared to two in three in 1980.
Many couples cite high levels of student loan debt as an obstacle to marriage, and millennials are wise to wait to pay that off before tying the knot, said Brianna McGurran, personal finance expert at NerdWallet. She noted that people with more financial independence have the resources to break off relationships they may be forced to stay in otherwise just to split rent or pay the bills.
But those who hold off on marriage could be losing out on money, too: Filing taxes jointly as a married couple could affect how much you are able to write off and which income bracket you’re taxed at. Marriage also gives couples the ability to leave an inheritance if something should happen to one partner and legal rights to parents of children. Two parent families have traditionally been considered to be more beneficial to the outcome of a child, but recent research disputes that.
Waiting also has major payoffs emotionally. “Waiting to marry means spending more time learning who you are and what you want,” McGurran said. “So when you find the right person, the relationship is more fulfilling — you enter into it knowing you’re truly choosing to do so, and you’d be just fine on your own.”