There are many reasons why Millennials are a peculiar generation. One such reason is our approach to marriage, which is not traditional in just about every single aspect except one (I’ll get to that). According to a 2014 Gallup poll 59% of us are single and have never married, 27% are married, and 9% are in domestic partnerships. Compared to previous generations these stats show that we are waiting to get married much longer even though 86% of us want to get married at some point.
So why have so many Millennials waited to take the leap into married life?
It’s partly due to finances. We are a generation that came of age during the great recession and have been bogged down by student loan debt. Millennials make up a large portion of the national student loan total of $1.31 trillion. Because of this slow economic start, 36% of us live in homes with 3 or more adults (i.e. Mom’s house or with roommates).
Another part of the delay is our evolving attitudes toward social norms including marriage. Many of us approach the concept in untraditional ways. How many fellow Millennials do you know who just say, “screw it, I’m living the single life!” or, “I don’t want to rush into anything.”? More than any other generation, Millennials tend to move in together to test the waters or simply avoid taking relationships to that next level to focus on a career (think of the evolution of women in the workforce).
My personal observation is that we are careful before making a commitment of that magnitude due to the very common childhood experience of parents getting divorced. Most of our parents are Baby Boomers, which was the generation with the highest divorce rates in history. You don’t have to be a psychologist to know that experiencing divorce would leave quite an impression on how a child grows to see marriage. Who do you know that experienced divorce as a child and didn’t think that it sucked? In fact, Millennials ended up being 10% more conservative on the issue by being more prone to believe that it is better to stay in a marriage when times get hard than end it. Thus, our 1 traditional approach to marriage.
I’m a huge advocate of marriage. Being a married Millennial myself, I can attest to the many benefits that married life has to offer. I understand the wisdom in waiting and the hesitancy in making the same mistakes as our parent’s generation, but I think it’s just about time for Millennials to get hitched. Here are 5 reasons why single Millennials should take the leap and tie the knot:
1) You’ll have no choice but to burst your life bubble
It may come as a surprise but the person you end up marrying will most likely be very different from yourself. I know that it’s common to talk about finding someone who likes the same things as you, has the same interests, etc. But every one of us has a different life experience and that comes to the forefront when you marry someone.
Trust me, that person who you can talk to endlessly about your common love of 90s alternative rock will feel completely different on year 2 of your marriage. When you are both working, you’ve been sleeping in the same bed for years, the dogs or kids are ruining the living room, and a project at work is due in hours, all those common interests dissolve into the common goal of adulting. It’s at that point in life when you will learn to build on each other’s strengths and learn from each other (if you’ve chosen wisely).
Along with adulting together you’ll have someone who calls you out on your shit. Yes, we all think we’re perfect, especially those of you just out of college and able to regurgitate all the “knowledge” your professors “taught” you. But no one will be better at making you better than your spouse because no one will be better able to tell you when you are acting like a jackwagon or when it’s time to put away that Star Wars t-shirt.
You might also end up marrying someone who has differing political views than you like I did. We agree on the big things, but there are plenty of things that we don’t agree on. Since we are grown-ups we’re able to talk about them and get to the “why” behind each of our beliefs. Being able to talk about those things and burst our political bubbles was just another step in growing together.
It makes a lot of financial sense to get married. Not only do you essentially double your income if both of you are working, but you have someone to set financial goals with and someone to help keep you accountable for achieving those goals. I’ve wanted to buy a $40,000 truck for years, but there ain’t no way in hell I’d be able to roll up to my house in that awesome thing without the wife rightfully ripping me to pieces. Your financial goals are your spouse’s financial goals and each decision you make needs to be a decision you both make. If you are smart then living that way will have humungous benefits.
Society has also decided to reward you financially for getting married. There are a ton benefits you’ll enjoy on insurance, taxes, loans, investing, your credit, and financial protection. These are things you learn along the way, but end up being surprising every time a benefit comes across the table.
Just try to avoid the posh wedding that costs more than a down-payment on a house. My wife and I had a wonderful backyard wedding with our closest family and friends. No ballroom or venue could have made it any better.
3) Experience Life Together
Maybe I’m just a romantic, but I find life much more enjoyable when I have someone to experience it with. From the mundane day-to-day activities like drinking morning coffee to going on vacation together, having a partner with you makes it all so much better.
This is the romcom part of the article, I’ll admit it, but truthfully, there is a reason those movies make so much money! They have a kernel of truth in them. We are social beings able to feel and express an odd thing called love. What’s the point if you don’t have someone to live out that feeling with? Neither friends nor friends-with-benefits can fulfill the amazing feeling of loving someone year-in and year-out.
I know it sounds weird, but you probably…. might be healthier if you get married. Harvard says so. At first, that didn’t make much sense to me, but the truth is that married people tend to have several healthier aspects of their lives. The common denominator is being in a happy relationship of course, but Millennials might have an advantage in that regard due to our generally wise decision to be careful with whom we marry.
Some of the common healthier characteristics of married people include a better immune system, healthier behavior, and better mental health. These characteristics have been shown to coincide with a better ability survive a heart attack. So, there you go! If you get married you might just survive a heart attack better than if you didn’t.
But seriously, my take on it is that if you have a great partner to share the trials of life with then you will be less stressed compared to a person taking on life by themselves. Stress is a huge factor in health and can directly affect the health benefits listed above. I don’t know how many times over the last few years my wife has been there to help me get through a problem that I would have stressed over in my apartment by myself had she not been there.
5) You’ll be generally happier, especially with your sex life
As I’ve mentioned previously, the key to all of this is choosing who you marry wisely. If you’ve found someone who has become your best friend then you are golden because if you take that next step you will live a happier life. Several studies have shown the correlation between being married to a good partner and living a happy life filled with more sex than our single counterparts.
The four reasons above are just a sampling of the benefits of marriage that will lead to happiness. There is an endless list of tiny things unique to each couple that causes an increase in happiness. For example, my wife and I love going to our local nursery to look at (and sometimes buy) exotic plants on the weekends before planning a fun meal to cook together while drinking a bottle of wine. We were best friends prior to getting married, but after becoming a married couple it slowly went to another level of friendship. We’ve started to evolve our lives around what makes us both happy.
On top of the inevitable evolution of your life around your mutual friendship, you’ll probably have a better sex life. A study by the Bureau of Economic Research found that not having sex after marriage is a misconception. In fact, married people tend to have more sex and are and are happier with the sex that they do have. One of the most interesting parts of the study showed that monogamy is correlated to happiness. It also showed that smart people are happier with the sex that they have and that wealth doesn’t correlate with a happy sex life…just a couple of interesting notes.
There have been a lot of recent studies and countless articles touting the benefits of long-term, monogamous relationships outside of wedlock. I don’t doubt that being in that sort of relationship can add similar benefits to your life, but I’m 100% sure that marriage is in a special realm of its own. The act of publically and legally announcing to the world your dedication to one other person and marking that special day on your calendar creates an indescribable sentiment between you and your spouse.
It would be a sad reality if a generation as intelligent and poised for greatness as the Millennial generation ended up being known as the lonely generation. It’s time to start tying the knot!