Once again, we saw marriage rates continuing to decline in 2017, as people prefer to live together or remain solo rather than get married. It's simply not the end goal for everyone today. So, no, it wasn't your imagination; you definitely weren't invited to as many weddings this year as you were last year or even the year before. It's nothing you did, but simply that times are changing and the institution of marriage isn't being viewed quite the same way, especially among young people.
“Millennials aren’t big on tradition,” New York–based relationship and etiquette expert of Relationship Advice Forum, April Masini, tells Bustle. “They prefer hanging out to dating, renting to buying, and living together to marriage. It’s not that they don’t want a commitment — they do. They are having meaningful relationships and there have been studies that show they’re actually having less sex at their age than prior generations — so it’s not they want freedom to sleep around. They just don’t want to get married.”
But those who do get married today, regardless of their generation, are are seeing how their relationship is affected by technology, careers, and health. Here are 11 things we learned about marriage in 2017, according to studies and surveys, because marriages that start online may actually have a better shot at lasting nowadays.
1. Marriages That Start Online Have A Better Success Rate
A 2015 study by eHarmony Australia found that online dating is the second most popular way people meet now, which is great news for those who end up marrying the person they met online according to 2017 research. Researchers from the University of Essex in the UK and the University of Vienna in Austria, published the results of their study regarding relationships that start online in the MIT Technology Review in October, in which their findings revealed that marriages that start online are “stronger” and “last longer,” than those that start in traditional settings. Also, people who meet online are more likely to get married quicker than those who don't meet online.
2. Marriage Can Reduce Risk Of Dementia Later In Life
According to a 2017 study, published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, married people have a lower risk of dementia than their single counterparts. People who have been single their entire lives have a 42 percent higher risk of developing dementia and those who have been widowed have a 20 percent higher risk. The researchers believe that married people are able to stave off dementia more because they tend to be more social than those who are not married or who are windowed.
3. Marriage May Not Make People Healthier
For a long time, it was believed (and there were studies to back it up) that married people were healthier — it was great for lowering risks of heart disease, keeping blood pressure in check, living longer, and a whole slew of other benefits. But a July 2017 study published in the Social Science Quarterly found that this isn’t the case anymore: Married people actually aren’t healthier. Between stress levels — and married couples are facing more stress than generations before — and other obligations and complications, being single just might be the healthier option.
4. Marriage Needs Compassion To Succeed
Although communication, a strong friendship, and sex are all important components to happy and healthy marriage, a 2017 study conducted by the University of Rochester found that, more than anything, a marriage needs to consist of compassion. The lead researcher, Harry Reis, stated in the report, "Our study was designed to test a hypothesis put forth by Tenzin Gyatso, the current Dalai Lama, that compassionate concern for others' welfare enhances one's own affective state." Basically, do unto others as you would like done unto you and everyone is happy.
5. Marriage Is Still On The Decline
September 2017 research by the Pew Research Center found that marriage is still seriously on the decline. Whereas 72 percent of adults were married in 1960, that percentage is now hovering around 50 percent. One of the major reasons for these percentages is that people aren’t getting married as much as they did in the past, obviously, and that people are getting married later in life. The median marrying age in 1960 was seven years younger than it is today, which is 27.4 for women and 29.5 for men.
6. The Majority Of Millennials Don’t See Marriage As Important As Their Careers
According to an April 2017 report by the U.S. Census Bureau, not only is marriage on the decline, but 55 percent of millennials believe education and careers are more important than marriage and having kids. This isn’t to suggest they’re all against it, per se, it’s just not on the top of their priority list.
7. Most People Who Get Married Are Middle & Upper Class
Although less Americans are getting married, those who are getting married tend come from either middle or upper class families. Research published in American Enterprise Institute and Opportunity America in September found that 56 percent of married people are middle and upper class, 39 percent are working-class, and 26 percent are “poor” — the New York Times’ word choice, not mine. However, in 1990, although the financially well-off still married more often, the majority in all three of the economic groups were married. Considering the average wedding in the United States cost $35,329 in 2016, it kind of makes sense that, sadly, that it is this way.
8. Sometimes Marriage & Politics Don’t Mix
I don’t even have to get into what a terrifying and tumultuous year it was in politics, so I won’t bother. But what we did learn from this past year is that sometimes politics and marriage don’t mix. An online survey by Wakefield Research conducted in April 2017 found that 22 percent of Americans (35 percent of millennials) know at least once couple whose marriage or relationship suffered specifically because of Trump’s win. Also, 11 percent of those surveyed admitted ending their relationship because of Trump. As for millennials, that percentage is 22.
9. Marriage Success May Be Affected By Career Choice
According to research by career site Zippia, marriage success can be determined by the careers the two partners have. For example, if one partner is in the military, that can create quite a strain on the relationship putting the divorce rate at around 15 percent for these couples. However, those marriages where the careers are in legal work, sciences, or entertainment, the divorce rates are four percent and below. Who doesn’t want to be married to a super sexy, nerdy scientist?
10. Support For Gender Equality In Marriage Is Dropping
As much as it pains me, physically pains me to write this, a March report by the Council on Contemporary Families found that adults between 18 and 25 aren’t as keen on the idea of gender equality in a marriage as they were just a few years ago in 2014.
11. Marriage Still Makes People Happy — For The Most Part
Despite all the studies that came out about marriage in 2017, the one that's probably most important to cling to is the research that was published in the Journal of Happiness Studies earlier this month. The report came out of a couple studies, each one lasting more than a year, of over 300,000 married couples. What it found was that not only are married people happier, but when they're best friends with their partner, their marriage satisfaction is even greater. So that's definitely some positive, pro-marriage news.
Marriage is definitely complicated AF, but here's how it all stands at the moment. Here's to learning even more about marriage in 2018.