Millennials can pride themselves on many different things, from technological know-how that far surpasses that of their elders to having new, innovative job opportunities that didn't exist decades ago. Now it seems millennials are winning again in a totally new and all-important category: marriage.
According to a recent analysis from the University of Maryland, significantly fewer millennials are getting divorced than their parents and grandparents. In fact, the overall divorce rate in the United States has gone down a whopping 18 percent between the years 2008 and 2016 alone. Does this mean that marriage in the 21st century is more stable than it was in the 19th and 20th centuries, or does it mean that millennials today are better equipped to handle the challenges and obstacles brought on by the union of two human beings?
Relationship experts believe that these statistics are the result of the fact that couples are waiting until they're well established in their life and career to get married. This gives millennials an advantage in terms of stress—their levels are generally lower than the couples in generations before them, explains Michele Moore, licensed professional counselor, certified coach, and relationship expert at Marriage Mojo. "This is not to say that they are less stressed overall, but that they don't face the same conflicts or pressure in the areas that tend to pull couples apart)." This delay of matrimony has a "domino effect" in numerous ways, according to Moore.
One has to do with finances. "By waiting to marry, millennials are typically more educated and financially stable," she says. By removing the financial burden generations past experienced, millennials are more likely to remain in happy marriages. "Of course, this stability is sometimes offset by a large amount of debt (e.g., student loans, vehicle loans, personal credit cards, etc.) so it's certainly not true in all cases," Moore adds. Financial stability also means that millennial couples are more ready to face financial challenges brought on by children. "Disagreements about parenting issues and discipline are probably the second or third reason couples divorce, so this readiness also gives them a boost that couples in other generations do not have," adds Moore.
Waiting to get married also means getting married at a later age than generations past—and usually with age comes more wisdom. "Today the average male is 33 and the average woman is 31 compare to 23.2 and 20.8 in the 1970s, 24.7 and 22 in the 1980s, 26.5 and 24.5 in the 1990s and 27 and 21 in the early 2000s," says relationship coach Matt Morgan. This not only gives individuals time to get to know themselves and what they're looking for in a mate, but also allows them more time to enhance their education.
Another important factor that supports why millennials might be better at marriage is that they're more likely to live together before saying "I do." "What once was largely taboo in religious environments is now the norm for couples in the US. Couples take the time to 'try before they buy,'" says Morgan. "Cohabitation and education, creates not just a lowering divorce rate, but a lower marriage rate as well."
It's important to note, however that millennials are also faced with challenges that generations before them were not, such as social media and technology. "As the first generation of couples to face issues regarding electronic addiction, it's important to note that it can cause couples to 'connect' to devices and 'disconnect' from each other," says Moore. That's why her main tip for millennials is actually the same as it is for couples in other generations and that is to learn to communicate and argue well so that they can negotiate any topic. "If they can learn to do this, they can resolve their own set of unique challenges, including, in many cases, outside pressure from family or peers, disagreements about whose career comes first, and where to live."