According to a Pew Research Center analysis, more than 75 percent of people were married in the 1950s compared to about 50 percent of people today. Those are some pretty stark statistics—but what is the reason for this drastic decline in the institution of marriage? As it turns out, there are a myriad of culprits that affect some, but not all, individuals. One driving factor? People are choosing to wait until they're older to tie the knot. To help understand some of the reasons why men and women are getting married later in life, we asked the experts to shed some light.
Women are more independent and career-driven than ever before.
It's hard for us to truly understand the limitations that our grandparents, and even some of our parents, faced growing up that may or may not have prevented them from realizing their true, individual potential. Nowadays, more women than ever are following their passions and even becoming the breadwinners of the household, explains Marissa Nelson, a licensed marriage and family therapist. "Many of the career ambitions and positions require extensive travel and long work hours, so I have seen women give themselves permission to focus on building themselves in their current profession, and postponing marriage and raising a family for later in life," she adds.
Titles matter less and less.
"To some marriage is the ultimate goal, but increasingly we're seeing many women and men acknowledging and accepting the fact that they are comfortable not entering the traditional structure of marriage," says Nelson. "Many of my clients are perfectly fine living with their partner and sharing a life together, whether that means buying a home together, starting a business, or moving with their significant other somewhere else for a career opportunity."
Couples are choosing to live together pre-marriage.
More and more couples are moving in together before they get married, often even before they become engaged. This occurrence was few and far between just decades ago, explains Susan Edelman, M.D., a psychiatrist. "When you marry after living together, research shows a greater tendency to have negative approaches to solving problems and being supportive," says Dr. Edelman. "The researchers suggest that cohabiting partners likely view their arrangement as temporary and aren't as likely to feel committed to learn the kind of conflict resolution skills that lead to healthy long-term relationships and marriages."
Divorce rates are startling.
The generation that is now getting married is also the generation that's seen more parents divorcing than generations past. "People are more cautious to commit due to seeing so much divorce," says Rachel Needle, Psy.D., a licensed clinical psychologist. "As a result, they make take a longer time to commit to the relationship especially for the long-term."