Millennials are waiting longer than previous generations to get married — and many aren’t even getting married at all. But those who do choose marriage are finding themselves on the outs with society more than ever.
“I give them five years,” one Facebook commenter said in the comment section of an article about Hailey and Justin Bieber’s marriage that I came across recently. “That’s optimistic of you!” another commented back. Granted, they were quite young at the time of their legal marriage in 2018: Hailey was just 21, and Justin was 24. Still, why so much hate for a young, smitten couple in love?
In 2020, tying the knot in your early twenties proves to be interesting. Many well-meaning friends, colleagues, and family members will express concerns that you’re too young, you still have a lot of growing up to do, or you’re making a mistake by tying yourself down to one person when you should be exploring all your options. Or they assert that your decision is an ignorant, hasty one. Basically, everyone will feel they have a right to weigh in on your life-changing decision.
In all honesty, young Millennials tying the knot don’t need the approval of their generation or society to make the life-altering decision of getting married.
And for some Millennials who choose to marry young, some of these concerns may have some merit — but it seems to me that the grand majority of onlookers almost want young marriages to fail, as if they’re hoping the opportunity to snidely remark, “I told you so,” will present itself.
Millennials Really Aren’t into Getting Married
If there’s one thing Millennials can agree on, it’s this: Our young adult lives are wildly different from that of our parents, the boomers. Going to college, buying a house, and having kids aren’t as simple as they used to be. More than just that, the narrative of the average adult’s romantic life has shifted completely from past generations. We can browse through a collection of potential mates on dating apps without even getting out of bed, intimacy without commitment is far more prevalent, and while the average woman’s age at her first marriage in 1960 was just 20 years old, these days, it’s 27 — and it only continues to rise.
The average woman’s age at her first marriage in 1960 was just 20 years old, but these days, it’s 27.
But the average age for marriage isn’t just rising — marriage rates are also declining on the whole, mostly due to financial instability and the belief that marriage is an outdated tradition we need not carry on anymore. This, coupled with a 42% divorce rate for first marriages, makes for a whole generation of young adults who find themselves disenchanted with marriage entirely, choosing instead to focus on an impressive career, traveling the world, or making money.
Does This Warrant the Mocking of Millennials Who Do Marry Young?
So, marriage isn’t for everyone — and nowadays, more young adults than ever before are likely to marry their career or lifestyle rather than another human being. But in a culture that encourages “you doing you,” why do so many bestow upon themselves the right to pass judgment on young married couples of whom they know nothing about? If we’re all about open-mindedness, how come we’re so ready to sneer and gleefully predict the end of Hailey and Justin Bieber’s marriage, rather than just hope for the best for a young, legally-bound couple in love?
In all honesty, young Millennials tying the knot don’t need the approval of their generation or society to make the decision of committing their life to the person they love. But perhaps if we, as a generation, seek to allow others to live their lives in the way they find most fulfilling without judgment, we ought to extend that courtesy past the things we ourselves would do, like, or understand.
In a culture that encourages “you doing you,” why do so many bestow upon themselves the right to pass judgment on young married couples they don’t even know?
And, as it turns out, married Millennials are more likely to report satisfaction with their lives, drink less alcohol, and have lower levels of depression — so maybe marrying young isn’t so ignorant, after all.
Getting married, especially young, is a deeply personal choice, and one that’s definitely not for everyone out there. And while it’s not required that everyone understand that choice, I find it saddening that others would take joy in predicting the end of a young couple’s marriage.