Being recently married, I could not help but think that relatively few of my friends have taken that next step. Some haven’t found the right person, and others are in long-term relationships, but don’t feel the need to get married. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s certainly a visible trend. I’m not the only one who’s noticing. Millennials are getting married at a far lower rate than previous generations. Here are 7 reasons why:
1. WE CAN’T AFFORD IT
Let’s face it: Marriage is expensive. Unless you were blessed with a high-paying job or relatives who can afford to pay for a large portion of your wedding, chances are you’re going to struggle a bit to come up with the money. And that’s just for the ceremony. Many millennials are saying that they are delaying marriage because the ring is too expensive. No matter where you turn, marriage costs money.
2. WE NEED TO FOCUS ON OUR CAREERS
Millennials inherited one of the most crushingly depressing job markets since the Great Depression. Luckily for us, it came just in time for so many of us to graduate from college and attempt to fare for ourselves in the real world. With the millstone of student loans tied to our necks, we have to do everything we can to try to keep any job we manage to secure. With job security being more the exception than the rule these days, it takes time to feel comfortable enough with your professional life to even consider settling down.
3. WE DON’T FEEL THE NEED TO SIGN ON THE DOTTED LINE
The fact that millennials aren’t getting married in droves doesn’t mean that the idea of romance has died with our generation. Many of us are in fulfilling, long-term relationships. Tinder hasn’t completely destroyed our ability to commit. But we’ve all seen it fail, and we’ve seen the disastrous consequences that come with that failure. Rather than put everything on the line, millennials are choosing to remain in long-term relationships without marrying. The idea of entering into a contractual relationship that involves the government just isn’t all that attractive to large swaths of our generation. Who knew?
4. WE’RE SAVING FOR SOMETHING
As I mentioned above, marriage is expensive. Many of us feel that we can’t have a meaningful wedding ceremony if we can’t even afford a car to drive ourselves to the reception. Living paycheck to paycheck doesn’t lend itself well to laying down thousands of dollars for wedding cake and DJs. The down payment on that new car is just so much more appealing, and understandably so.
5. WE’RE NOT DONE BEING YOUNG
Marriage represents a substantial step toward full-fledged adulthood and independence. Many of us just aren’t ready to admit to ourselves that our young adulthood is over. Sure, young adults get married all the time. But there is a certain, if not fully describable, change that happens when you take the plunge. Some people just are not ready to give up the late-night Netflix binges and pizza runs. There’s nothing wrong with that. Millennial, know thyself.
6. WE DON’T HAVE HOUSES
Marriage allows you to hold yourself out to the world as a family unit. But home ownership is one of the things that previous generations have come to associate with marriage. Once seen as a pillar of fully-developed adulthood, a house has traditionally been viewed as the ideal place to develop your identity as a married couple and to start a family. But many millennials cannot afford a house. Further, many have no interest in owning a home and assuming the various costs that come with it. As a result, it could be difficult to make the commitment that marriage entails without a home base to call your own.
7. WE WANT TO SEE THE WORLD
The world is more connected than ever before. We can see images of the Eiffel Tower with the click of a mouse, and travel around the world virtually with Google Maps. But rather than quenching the inherent human need for exploration, technology feeds the craving. We want to go and experience the great places we see on the internet day in and day out. In the minds of many millennials, marriage represents the end of one’s ability to travel anywhere on a whim. It’s difficult to give that up.