I recently saw an article of the New York Post written by David Kaufman regarding millennials and so called “starter marriages.” Now, I don’t habitually peruse through the Post’s site. In fact I tend to avoid the publication altogether. But the headline drew me in and I thought it would make for an interesting topic of discussion. The article – which I encourage you to read and form your own opinions on – quite frankly doesn’t paint an all too pretty picture regarding millennials’ lifestyle choices.
In the article, Kaufman cited “a recent study” that shows 43 per cent of millennials support some form of “starter marriages”, in other words a marriage that doesn’t last for more than a couple of years. Here is my main gripe with this article. The author uses the HBO series Girls to support his claims by referencing various storylines on the show. Now I know that television characters can often reflect real life personalities, but the thing to remember is that these are exaggerated portrayals – that more often than not are there for nothing more than entertainment value. Can we learn from these characters? Of course, but to use them as the basis for your argument, claiming that they so conveniently reflect the ideals and habits of the demographic you’re trying to denounce – while solely focusing on the negative (taking examples from a show that rarely focuses on the positive aspects of its characters, mind you) is hardly the basis for a strong and convincing argument. A little later on Kaufman gives us a look at another stat, this time it’s something from a Pew Center report that states that 26 per cent of millennials are married. So if we go by these numbers a quarter of Generation Y already took the plunge, while close to half of that number support the idea of small periods of matrimony. But let’s examine things further.
According to the Pew Center Report 36 per cent of Gen X-ers were married 20 years ago, and 48 per cent of Baby Boomers were married in the 80s. Looking at the low numbers for millennials today, these stats definitely do show that Millennilas aren’t exactly lining up to get married. But it’s not because they’re entitled brats, incapable of trusting one another and forming meaningful relationships as Kaufman would suggest. A study released by Goldman Sachs shows that the median marriage age right now is 30 compared to the median of 23 in the 70s. It also shows that up to 23 per cent of people 18-31 believe that marriage can be put off. If you examine people belonging to the same age group in the mid-60s and early 80’s you’ll see that those numbers skyrocket to 56 and 43 per cent respectively. One aspect of the Pew Research centers report that Kaufman failed to mention is why so many millennials aren’t getting married. The survey states; “most unmarried Millennials (69%) say they would like to marry, but many, especially those with lower levels of income and education, lack what they deem to be a necessary prerequisite—a solid economic foundation.”
So are millennials just incapable of forming functional long term relationships like Kaufman and the cast of Girls would have you believe? Absolutely not. Just because they’re not rushing into it doesn’t mean that millennials have any ill feelings towards marriage. What we’re seeing here is a generation that’s patient, and responsible enough to put off such a large milestone in favor of first finding economic and personal stability in which they can then build upon.
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