If you’re a Millennial, you probably have a very different take on marriage than your parents. A recent report by the Urban Institute claims that our generation has the lowest marriage rates in history. That’s right, a lot of us just aren’t interested in walking down the aisle anymore. Blame the economy, the staggering divorce rate or the fact that marriage equality is a battle we’re still fighting for. Or don’t blame anything. Let’s just say the decision to get married is one our generation takes very seriously, and for that reason, we need to consider all aspects of the legal union before we run down the ol’ aisle. So here are just a few of the pros and cons, as we see it, to getting hitched in the 21stSom century.
1. Umm..not everyone can get married.
Though we’re making historic strides in this department every single day, we’re not there yet and that’s a problem. As Sarah Wright, of Unmarried Equality, puts it: “We take issue with an institutional system of benefits, rights and privileges that ignores and excludes other patterns of family formation, caregiving, property ownership, and living arrangements.” Right on. The fact that in many states, common-law partners are still considered invalid, and that loved ones can’t be at each other’s bedsides, or receive the legal rights of a family member, are all big points against the current institution of marriage. Regardless of your personal sexual orientation, it’s hard to be ecstatic about a concept that has historically banned a portion of the population from partaking in it.
2. Women don’t “need” to get married anymore.
Marriage has evolved as a concept, in recent years. Where it was once a kind of career step for women, actual careers have trumped landing a ring. More women than ever are breadwinners in a household, which means they’re more likely to take on the financial burden when they wed. That may be one reason why the Urban Institute projects that 30 percent of Millennial women won’t be married by the age of 40. Lady-power has also been connected to divorce rates. According to The New York Times, “women with greater earning power have greater economic security that allows them to leave bad marriages.” As a result of all this, people are wary of what they’re walking into. They may have higher standards for their marriages. Or, they may have constructed different, fulfilling sorts of relationships that don’t involve a legal contract.
3. It’s pretty old-school.
Other marriage critics take issue with some of the old-fashioned aspects of the ceremony itself, things like the wedding registry, the bouquet toss, or the practice of “giving away the bride.” Shouldn’t we banish these decidedly anti-feminist traditions? There’s also the fact that weddings can be massively expensive for both attendees and hosts. Couldn’t that money be better put towards a couple’s new home, or some charity? These are not trivialities. And wearing white is super old-school. Especially given the fact that 60% of couples live together before tying the knot. As Miranda Hobbes would say, “the jig is up.”
On the flip side. . .
1. Well, cake, for one thing.
2. I mean. . .the wedding.
BUT SERIOUSLY, FOLKS. Frank Sinatra once called love and marriage “an institution [one] can’t disparage.” There remains something very lovely about the idea of a big party celebrating love. There’s the act of exchanging vows. There’s the dance in front of all your friends. There might be a super-groovy cover band, or hilarious speeches given by drunk uncles. As cynical as I am sometimes, I can see the appeal of the wedding itself, independent from the whole “marriage” bag. Then again, one could always just have a party, without signing anything.
3. There’s something to be said for the emotional bond of marriage.
If we no longer need one another for financial or biological reasons, perhaps “needing each other” is even more romantic. A wedding between two self-established equals is a union defined by personal choice, as opposed to social mores. And it can be a truly beautiful thing. When two people decide they love each other so much they want to put in writing, it’s a huge profession of commitment and a testament to the importance of togetherness. For many, marriage is a great foundation to build on—whether that means starting a family or simply continuing on through life together. The tax breaks are pretty sweet too.
We’re merely dipping our toes into the debate. What did we miss? What are some other pros or cons of marriage as you see it?