Love and marriage sure isn’t what it used to be, and, for younger married people below the age of 50, this might be a good thing! New studies are emerging showing that different generations may have different interpretations of marriage and, therefore, differing rates of divorce. And while Millennials may be criticized in pop culture for failing to commit, they are largely responsible for the overall decline in divorces in recent years.
New studies show that, despite an overall decline in divorces, the “baby boomer” generations are heading to their divorce attorneys in record numbers. The divorce rate for boomer spouses, who range in age approximately between 53 and 71, have always been much higher than in their younger counterparts. As bloomberg.com puts it (to Millennials): “enjoy your nuptials as the summer wedding season hits its stride. Back home, your folks may be hiring divorce lawyers.”
While the 52.7% divorce rate is not unanimous between older and younger generations, and the gap seems to be getting even wider with each passing year. It’s almost as though the older baby boomers get, the more they are itching to leave their marriages. Data from Bowling Green's National Center for Family & Marriage Research shows that the divorce rate for 55- to 64-year-olds more than doubled from 1990 to 2012 while divorces for the over-65 crowd tripled.
Why is it that the parents of millennials are landing themselves in divorce court more than their married children (and all the marriages in between)? Researchers have a few ideas about why this social phenomenon doesn’t apply to younger generations.
Millennials have been famously choosy and thoughtful about the decision to marry. While a typical bride between the 1940s the 1970s was under 20, now the average age of marriage is 27 for women, and 29 for men. Researchers believe that this delayed model of marriage gives Millennials, Gen-Xers, and Gen-Yers more time to mature within themselves before marriage, as well as an opportunity to be much more selective and contemplative about what they want in a spouse.
The younger generations also are much more thoughtful and pragmatic about their marriages. American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers has data sourced from lawyers across the United States showing that the rate of prenuptial agreements between couples between the ages of 18 and 34 has increased. Studies also show that these lower rates of divorce might also be attributed to the increase in cohabitation in these younger couples before marriage (nbc.com).
We have yet to see whether Millennials and Gen Y-ers will follow in their parents’ footsteps. Increased cohabitation and higher age of marriage may be helping the bond between spouses to stick for now, but these changes in society are much too new to know whether or not it will affect couples in a different way in the future.