Why are millennials abandoning divorce? Sex, money, and their parents

Published 12:55 pm EDT, Wednesday, May 22, 2019

millennial coupleRobyn Beck/Getty Images

The divorce rate may be millennials‘ most important casualty to date.

The generation is fueling a 24% decline in divorce rates since 1981 — a decrease experts predict to continue over the coming decades, reported Hannah Smothers for Cosmopolitan.

Millennials are being driven by their fear of divorce — many have or know of divorced parents and are doing what they can to avoid an unstable marriage, according to Smothers. “Behaviors that may look erratic or cynical — delaying marriage, avoiding exclusivity — are actually protective measures against the drama of a big-deal split,” she wrote.

To ensure they find the right partner, millennials are taking the fast-track to hooking up, but the slow lane to tying the knot, Helen Fisher, PhD, a biological anthropologist and senior research fellow at The Kinsey Institute told Smothers: “Marriage used to be the beginning of a relationship — now, it’s the finale.”

As a result, millennials are waiting longer in their relationships to get married — 4.9 years on average, reported Kristin Salaky for INSIDER, citing a Bridebook study. They’re also getting married at a later age, according to INSIDER’s Kim Renfro. The median age of first marriage in the U.S. is 27 for millennial women and 29 for millennial men, and an estimated 25% of the cohort will never marry. 

The number of couples cohabitating before getting engaged has increased, a move that Renfro said is protecting them from divorce. A study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family asserted that living together “has become part of the pathway towards marriage.”

Source: Prenups aren’t just for the rich or famous — more millennials are signing them before getting married, and you probably should too

But divorce doesn’t just take an emotion toll — it also takes a financial one. With a traditional divorce averaging $15,000, millennials also don’t want face its expenses, according to Smothers.

They’re prioritizing financial success before getting hitched — like establishing a career and paying off student loan debt — which allows them to enter marriage with less stress and less fights over things like debt, she wrote.

It’s a strategic move considering money is a common cause of divorce, reported Business Insider’s Shana Lebowitz, and one of the main reasons couples seek marriage counseling. Indeed, marriage itself is more popular among wealthier millennials, meaning that it too is a symptom of the affordability crisis

A delay in marriage also gives couples more time to acquire their own assets — as a result, more couples are signing prenups before marriage to protect these assets in the event of a divorce. It’s just another sign of how they’re doing everything possible to create a successful marriage.

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