There are many controversies about the millennial generation. The lifestyle choices and differences between millennials and other preceding generations continue to be a topic of discussion. In this two part essay, I will discuss the evolution of marriage, the idea of marriage among millennials and why some millennials think marriage is a thing of the past.
Marriage is an ancient institution that antedates human history. Although ancient, marriage is not stagnant. The institution has evolved and transformed over time, constantly satisfying the demands of the human race. As an institution created by humans, marriage has been stretched and it has been- functional and practical in serving various humanity purposes. This autonomy has given marriage the dignity that makes it absolute. Whether disinterested, forced or arranged, marriage is perceived as an unquestioned and important institution.
Radical changes in marriage
Historically, marriage was functional to create and maintain diplomatic relations, mutual connections and peaceful alliances for economic and political reasons at various social levels. The consents of the couples involved were of little or no concern. Centuries down the line, consent, church, traditions, vows, rings, affection and legalities began to interfere with and change the purpose of marriage.
Decades after these centuries, the purpose of marriage does not just change; the mindset towards it changes too. There is a mixed feeling of- indifference and apathy towards marriage among millennials. Pathetic marriage trends suggest that- that once conservative and generally fancied institution is perhaps an illusion and rather unnecessary.
Millennials see marriage as ‘old-fashioned’. A study reported that 40 per cent of some 2500 people described marriage as “a thing of the past”. Thirty years back, a similar survey found only 11 per cent of Americans described marriage as old fashioned. More so, in 2017, the average age of marriage according to the US Census Bureau was 27 for women and 29 for men. In the 1900s however, the average age of marriage was 20 for women and 23 for men. For many reasons, marriage seems not to have much importance as it did in the past.
Is marriage still an asset?
Marriage stood as fortitude during the Medieval period. It was a source of physical, emotional and mental strength to support other institutions in the society. Marriage meant that the state, community or families would enjoy relative social, economic or political benefits. In the Victorian era when ‘love’ became the basis for marriage, marriage still satisfied basic social and economic needs and increased productivity such as division of labor. Marriage was indeed a backbone in the society.
Fortunately, this nature of marriage seems to have changed. If marriages were an asset as they were in ancient times, the divorce rate would not have doubled over the last four decades. In the US, findings suggest 40 to 50 per cent of married couples divorce. Seemingly, marriage is now perceived as a trap that consumes happiness, sanity and security. Another study from the National Intimate Partner & Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) estimated that up to half of Americans suffered lifetime emotional violence by an intimate partner. Marriage, once known as a source of strength has transformed into a battlefield infringing personal and economic stability.
Marriage is a complex system evolving in a more complex society. Ancient approaches to marriage are inefficient and ineffective in these modern times. The marriage institution needs a simpler and improved approach to keep it absolute as it originally was.