Couples today are doing their own thing and ditching the traditional route down the aisle. So, if you’re hesitant about marriage, you’re not alone.
According to the Pew Research Center, in 2012, one in five adults age 25 and older (at the time, that was about 42 million people) had never been married. Compare that to 1960, when only about one in ten adults of the same age range had never been married.
That rise in never-marrieds is attributed to the fact that folks are getting hitched later in life, and that more couples are cohabiting and raising children outside of marriage. Right now, the median age for first marriages is its highest ever: 30 years old for men and 28 years for women, according to U.S. Census Bureau data taken in 2018. Plus, a recent Urban Institute report predicts that some millennials will remain unmarried past the age of 40.
When millennials (which the Pew Research Center considers ages 21 to 36) were asked why they had not gotten married, 29 percent said they were not financially prepared, while 26 percent said they hadn’t found someone who has the qualities they are looking for, and another 26 percent said they were too young and not ready to settle down.
Here are 6 reasons why science says you should avoid marriage:
1 UNMARRIED, CHILDLESS WOMEN ARE HAPPIER
Recently, Paul Dolan, a professor of behavioral science at the London School of Economics, said, while discussing his new book, Happy Ever After, that “if you’re a man, you should probably get married; if you’re a woman, don’t bother.” That’s because, after he examined data from the American Time Use Survey to determine the happiness levels in unmarried, married, divorced, separated and widowed people, Dolan found that unmarried, childless women are the happiest subgroup, adding that they are more likely to live longer than their married and parental peers.
2 LIVING TOGETHER IS MORE COMMON AND WIDELY ACCEPTED
Today, more and more unmarried couples are living together. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, among Americans ages 18 to 24, cohabitation minus marriage is now more commonthan living with a spouse, with 9 percent living with an unmarried partner in 2018 as compared to 7 percent who live with a spouse. And of adults ages 25 to 34, 15 percent live with an unmarried partner, up from 12 percent ten years ago.
3 MARRIAGE ISN’T (LEGALLY) NECESSARY ANYMORE
In addition to that thing called love, some couples used to feel the need to get married for legal reasons. But now you don’t have to swap vows to be officially together. Originally created to provide legal and economic protections for same-sex couples, domestic partnership is an option for all couples. As an alternative to a traditional marriage, a domestic partnership is a legally-recognized relationship that offers couples the same or similar benefits as those provided to married couples.
Not all states recognize domestic partnerships, and the benefits may vary by state and municipality, but typically a domestic partnership affords couples rights such as being able to add your partner onto your health or dental insurance, to take leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act to care for your partner, as well as authority to visit each other in the hospital and be considered next of kin for medical decisions.
4 MODERN FAMILY ISN’T JUST A TV SHOW
Families come in all shapes and sizes now, and the notion that marriage and parenthood go hand in hand has become somewhat obsolete, especially for millennials. A 2010 Pew Research survey found that 52 percent of millennials think being a good parent is “one of the most important things” in life, while only 30 percent say the same about having a successful marriage. For comparison, in 1997, 42 percent of Generation Xers said being a good parent was one of the most important things in life, while 35 percent said the same about having a successful marriage.
Plus, the number of children living with an unmarried parent has more than doubled since 1968, jumping from 13 percent to 32 percent in 2017, according to Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.
5 YOU’RE AFRAID OF GETTING DIVORCED
It may seem like a pessimistic reason not to get married, but being afraid of a potential divorce, along with the legal, financial and emotional stresses involved when dissolving a marriage, is enough for some to say “I don’t.” “There’s a fear of divorce or a specter of divorce looming large in people’s minds,” Wendy D. Manning, co-director of Bowling Green’s Center for Family and Marriage Research, told The Wall Street Journal.
“They don’t want to make a mistake. They’re waiting longer to get married to divorce-proof their marriage.” The center recently conducted research on the country’s divorce rate, which has actually been on the decline. In 2017, the rate had dropped to 16.1 divorces for every 1,000 marriages, the lowest it has been in 40 years. But many believe that’s because couples are delaying marriage, partly because of their fear of divorce.