A headline in Bloomberg recently declared that “Young Americans are Killing Marriage.”
I don’t believe it. There’s plenty to blame on millennials – fidget spinners, the term “selfie,” the relentless release of superhero movies (did we need an “Antman”?) – but blaming them for the destruction of marriage?
Nonsense. If marriage is dying, it’s not the fault of our younger peers. Between 1990 and 2015, the divorce rate actually doubled among those over 50 – that’s you, Baby Boomers – and decreased by 21 percent among those 25-39, according to U.S. Census figures and a Gallup analysis.
While it is true that fewer millennials are marrying in their 20s, this hardly amounts to killing our most sacred institution. In fact, most millennials say they want to wed — just not before they’re 30. Blame it on mounting college debt and lack of affordable housing; it’s not appealing to anyone to bring your bride to Mom’s house after a honeymoon splurge at Yogurtland.
In spite of this, the vestige of marriage appears to be flourishing. It is in our family.
JJ’s oldest son is 22, freshly graduated from college, and madly in love. Bucking the generational trend, he is marrying his sweetheart in September.
We have no problem with the marrying part; we love the bride. But, so soon? Why not get engaged, wait until you get settled a bit, find careers and get on your feet?
I walked down the aisle for the first time at 39, and even then, the idea of taking that step was scary; no one wants to spend time in the wretched, ominous halls of family court (a misleading name to begin with).
By the time I turned 24, I had been a bridesmaid in four weddings: Three split within the first two years; the third lasted a respectable decade before hitting the “irreconcilable differences” sinkhole.
I wasn’t dating many winners in my 20s, and, in my 30s, the cynical “what ifs” began to nag louder and the list of “must haves” mounted. The longer you have to think about something, the more likely it is you won’t do it (they said the same thing when I went skydiving; in both cases, hitting the ground, limbs still intact, was a rush like no other).
With all of our combined wisdom and years of experience, JJ and I had rehearsed a sensible talk – “Just some options to think about,” I believe is how we worded it – before the happy couple came over for dinner a few weeks ago.
She showed us her Google doc with “wedding tasks” to do: DJ, food, cake, guest list, venue. It’s all coming together in spite of what seemed to be impossible budget constraints.
It doesn’t have to be fancy, the bride said — she wants everyone to have fun. She has a beautiful dress, six bridesmaids and floral headbands for everyone.
They have a place to live that’s geographically separate from any relative. They are both college-educated, and have jobs.
We kept our mouths shut. Wisdom, indeed.
Maybe this will be the generation to save marriage — though from what, I’m still not sure.
I’m rooting for them.
City editor Melissa Evans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.