Plenty of bandwidth has been devoted to reporting that Millennials’ marriage rates are way down compared to past generations—with many supposedly more concerned about buying a suitable home for their dogs than spouse or children. Despite all the hype, however, a new study suggests Millennials still want to get married. (Just on our own timelines.)
Researchers in Brigham Young University’s family life department conducted a longitudinal study, in which they surveyed and interviewed midwestern Millennials over the course of three years to see the trends of delaying marriage and the declining marriage rate. Their results, as well as national data, form the basis of The Marriage Paradox: Why Emerging Adults Love Marriage Yet Push it Aside, which was released this month.
According to co-author Brian J. Willoughby, the research show that—while many assume these trends must mean Millennials don’t care about marriage—they actually suggest the opposite.
He told BYU’s Daily Universe that Millennials actually consider marriage just as important as their parents did. If anything, the decline in the marriage rate is because Millennials think of marriage as a more serious commitment than some recent generations.
“They’re very anxious about it because they’re worried they’re going to make the wrong decision,” Willoughby said.
Then there’s the FOMO factor: The idea of being stuck with a bad match when a better one could be out there may be keeping some Millennials from settling down, according to the survey findings. The BYU study suggests 50 percent of U.S. Millennials believe they have a soul mate. But a May 2016 Gallup Analysis found 59 percent of the generation born between 1980 and 1996 are single and have never been married.
On the other end of the spectrum are those married Millennials—who are made to feel like rarities with so much focus on the unmarried Millennials.
However, as Willoughby pointed out, marriage is no longer a cultural institution or obligation, but a matter of personal satisfaction: There’s no one size all when it comes to matrimony.
So, while some may delay or decide not to walk down the aisle, getting married works for others. If you value it—and are lucky enough to find someone you want to do it with—marriage is just as valid a choice as buying a house for your dog.