Staying single can be a matter of practicality


Christina Coleburn, Senior Editor

Millennials are projected to overtake the Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest generation by the end of this year. Political leanings, social views and, notably, attitudes on love and marriage all distinguish this younger generation from its more antiquated counterparts. Study after study shows that fewer millennials are married or in serious relationships, but this trend does not necessarily stem from a rejection of commitment as some Baby Boomers believe. When gauging interest in marriage among 18- to 34-year-olds, 56 percent said they were “never married and want to get married.” For many, the decision to stay single longer is a matter of practicality.

With the economic opportunity and income advancement that bachelor’s degrees can bring, many millennials have chosen to go to college to boost employment prospects with higher education. After undergraduate schooling, some even choose to enter graduate programs to further their education. For those who have taken out student loans, it can take years to pay off the debt, all while finding gainful employment. It is extremely difficult to handle these economic constraints on one’s own. Taking on the financial pressures of a romantic partner alongside one’s personal financial burden could be even more stressful.

Given the current economic climate, it is wise for millennials to recognize the importance of becoming financialy stable before settling down. Rushing a committed relationship or marriage before one has the capacity to sustain it could prove to be devastating. When polled, millennials seem to be earnestly considering the prerequisites of marriage. An August 2015 survey found that nearly 80 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds say it is important to have some savings and pay off debt before getting married, while about 60 percent say it is important to finish college. These numbers should be encouraging to parents of millennials. Every year that millennials put off marriage is another year contributing to their future earning potential, while any marriage built on rocky financial grounds is much more prone to end in tragedy. Sensible priorities help make for responsible adults who can navigate a marriage with maturity when the time comes to choose a life partner.

While millennials are postponing long-term commitment, the reason for this delay is not necessarily predicated on dismissiveness of marriage. As the nature of the economy and the expectations of U.S. culture have shifted, so have the conditions in which millennials can consider settling down. This does not mean that millennials will never walk down the aisle, just that the prerequisites have changed. While some Baby Boomers may be eagerly awaiting the day that their daughter or son finally says “I Do,” these parents will need to come to terms that their grown children may not yet be ready to get married.

Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Nov. 30 print edition. Email Christina Coleburn at [email protected].