Millennials Are Staying Married, and That's Good
According to one study Millennials are doing something that should make everyone happy. They’re staying married.
USA Today reports, “University of Maryland professor Philip Cohen found that from 2008 to 2016, the U.S. divorce rate dropped by 18 percent.” Millennials are a major reason for the decline in divorce, and Professor Cohen cites young women as a major factor in the drop. Young women are more educated, more likely to find stable employment and some financial security prior to marriage, and more likely to delay marriage, which allows women to be more discerning when choosing a mate.
You can find Dr. Cohen’s paper here.
The fact that Millennials are more likely to stay together is a good thing. But there is still concern about marriage overall. Ben Steverman in Bloomberg writes:
Fewer people are getting married, and those who do are the sort of people who are least likely to get divorced, [Cohen] said. “Marriage is more and more an achievement of status, rather than something that people do regardless of how they’re doing.”
Many poorer and less educated Americans are opting not to get married at all. They’re living together, and often raising kids together, but deciding not to tie the knot. And studies have shown these cohabiting relationships are less stable than they used to be.
Fewer divorces, therefore, aren’t only bad news for matrimonial lawyers but a sign of America’s widening chasm of inequality. Marriage is becoming a more durable, but far more exclusive, institution.
Marriage has become an institution of the wealthy. Christians should be concerned about marriage not only for reasons pertaining to sexual ethics, but for reasons of social and economic justice.
The family continues to be an important point of focus for the teaching and preaching ministry of the church. There are aspects of our teaching which are left unsaid that challenge cultural presuppositions regarding what marriage is, who it is a viable option for, and why it is a worthwhile commitment for younger Christians to make.
Perhaps marriage is for something more than a warm feeling or as a sign that dreams can come true. Perhaps marriage is a means of sanctification, a place where we are given the opportunity to learn more fully about the meaning of service, love, and sacrifice. Perhaps it is a means through which we can better tell the gospel story, a space where we must choose each day to mutually submit to another and seek the good of another person first, placing a spouse’s needs before our own.
Making a lifelong covenant before fellow congregants of fidelity, love, and service not only is a reason for the community to rejoice, but is a means through which Christians give witness to their hope in God, who loves, serves, and is faithful to us.
We should rejoice that some Millennials are staying married, but we should also be aware of larger trends and what these trends might mean. In this instance, it is good that one group of Millennials is less likely to divorce. But seeing that marriage stability and longevity may be confined only to upper classes, we are reminded that there is still work to do.