The concept of marriage is drastically shifting, and societal norms have a lot to do with the way in which Millennials choose to live their lives. Not only that, but there are also family expectations, cultural values to follow, and personal hopes and desires to consider. So how does one find a balance? It can be difficult, but possible to make it work.
I grew up in a family that was pretty set in their ways. I was the youngest, and the only one of my sisters to move away for college. And even though very out of the ordinary for my parents, they were able to see the value in my decision to relocate and step out of my comfort zone. Soon after, things began to slowly progress and they chilled out a bit.
Now that I’m thirty, the “when are you getting married?” question keeps making its way into every single one of our conversations. My parents absolutely adore my boyfriend, so they’re hoping the answer will be “tomorrow.”
Following the question of when, comes “why wait?” I always want to respond with the many reasons as to why my boyfriend and I are waiting, but I don’t think they’ll quite understand due to the generational gap.
I believe that, just like myself and those in my network, many millennials are choosing to hold off on marriage. This may not be because they haven’t met the right person, but rather, because life has so much to offer.
Couples can absolutely embark on a million adventures together, and many may prefer it that way, but I’ll be the first to admit that our generation is selfish. We like what we like, we want what we want, and we want it done in the best possible way.
Best looks differently for each person, so flying solo can ultimately be necessary. Doing things exactly as you want them can be difficult when there is an entirely separate set of needs and ideas to consider when making decisions.
So, millennials are marrying later in life. Clearly the definition and face of marriage has changed overtime. With this transition, people are marrying later for many reasons. Most of these reasons are different than why people married in, let’s say, 1950. Let’s talk about some of the changes:
1. The need for accomplishment
There’s really no need to rush into a marriage. As individuals, millennials have plenty of things to accomplish. It is a time to focus on establishing a career, and also embark on adventure after adventure. There is an abundance of opportunities to explore, and these are the life-changing experiences that can shape a person.
There is now more of an emphasis on knowing who you are than ever before. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs includes self-actualization as one of the five human needs. Although it is the most difficult to achieve, it is one that involves development and growth, and allows one the space to truly become the best version of themselves.
Engaging in creative outlets and projects, and exposing hearts and minds to the world is such a beautiful thing. This is also something that other generations may not have had the opportunity to do. Living in a time such as this one is truly a privilege.
3. Shift in gender roles
Women and men are no longer confined to specific gender roles; these roles have become fluid. Women are no longer needing to marry for financial support, and men no longer need to marry in order to procreate and have a wifey to care for the family.
Women now have educations, careers, and are really living it up in what used to be a “man’s world.” Men are learning to cook and do laundry, and some are even stay-at-home dads. Bottom line, both men and women are independent and able to care for, and provide for themselves.
4. Procreation and the concept of family
Having children was relationship goals for centuries. Now, however, it seems as though less and less people are having children. According to the NIH, “the replacement fertility rate is roughly 2.1 live births per woman for most industrialized countries.” This quite low compared to the average of 3.67 in the United States between 1955 and 1960.
A recent study did find that more highly educated women in the US are bearing more children than in previous years, however, they are doing so later in life. According to the Washington Post, “the share of mothers with at least a master’s degree who have just one child fell from 28 percent to 23 percent [;] while those having three or more children rose from 22 percent to 27 percent.”
5. Taking time to find the right one
It’s now possible to link to literally the entire world. Millennials are able to interact with anyone and everyone, via a plethora of platforms, so why settle for a relationship that’s mediocre when one can potentially have an incredible love? Why settle for what’s right here when you might find exactly what you’re looking for out there? There’s really no rush, and settling shouldn’t be an option.
6. Cohabitation plus some
Due to this major shift in cultural and societal norms, couples are now able to live like married couples without actually being married. More and more couples cohabitate and have families without tying the knot. Society has allowed for a type of leeway that wasn’t available before, and millennials are taking advantage of it.
7. Freedom to love as one chooses
Millennials have the freedom to choose. Millennials choose who to be with, when to be together, at what capacity, and if marriage is the right thing for them. Love comes in a million shapes and sizes, and is no longer as simple as going steady, putting a ring on it, then getting married. Love is so much more than that. And I truly believe that millennials have been able to experience love at its’ best because of the freedom to do so.
Not sure if you’re with the right person? Consider these ten things when dating someone.