Dr. Helen

Will the Millennial generation have the lowest marriage rate in history?

A reader is concerned that the Millennial generation will not have the resources to marry–or divorce:

Dear Dr. Smith:

Do you think the Millennial generation will have the lowest marriage rate in the history of the republic? I’m a millennial, 28, and I don’t believe we’re going to have the resources to marry and divorce several times as our Boomer parents have done. I actually don’t believe we’ll have as nice of a lifestyle either because of debt, career opportunity, and many other reasons i can’t list here.

Hopefully I’m wrong; however, I just don’t see the us being able to get ahead as our parents did and the first post-World War II generation.

Some researchers have pointed out that the Millennials do not want to marry as quickly due to the unhappiness and divorces they see in their parents’ generation. Others claim that they are a narcissistic bunch who think only of themselves. The recession and lack of career opportunities as the reader above points out may have something to do with waiting for marriage.

I think for men, part of the difficulty is that the old traditional expectations to provide for a family are still there, put on them by both society and women, and themselves. At the same time, men are expected to be the modern husband and father who not only provides the majority of support in order to have a good marriage but helps with the housework and takes care of the kids. Add this all together and marriage is not in the cards for many men today, or is so stressful, it is only for the more educated and affluent who can delegate some of these tasks to others. With fewer career prospects and higher expectations of marriage, the average guy this age may just opt out and decide that marriage is not an option.

And divorce is more expensive than ever and filled with more uncertainty for men. They need money to fight for the kids they are more heavily invested in, and may have to pay alimony and child support even if they have little income and get little in the way of support from society other than being told they are a deadbeat dad. It’s tough and not something that all young men will want to risk.

Also read: Bad Advice for Autistic Dating