The median age of marriage in the United States has risen subtly in the past several decades. In 1970, the average age to wed was 22 and crept up to 27 in 2010. These statistics aren’t sitting too well for those who are growing impatient as they long to marry and start their own family.
Many young adults today feel they are proactive in meeting new people and desire to date those they have interest in, yet some are finding their perseverance to be in vain as a number of others put zero effort into “the dating game.” This is causing the driven ones to lose hope little by little as they grow older. With age, some begin to wonder if there is something wrong with them, wondering if they are awkward, not attractive, or even lovable. This is a sad reality for too many young people today. These are individuals who fully deserve to marry and would make exceptional spouses, but they recognize they are far from the brink of any romantic relationship.
Why are so many currently finding themselves in this position? We can allude to the idea that there is definitely a skewed mentality of dating found in our culture today. In a lot of cases, there seems to be less finding and more waiting. So what exactly is keeping all these young adults from a lifestyle of dating? Here are two reasons:
Reason #1: “emerging adulthood”
Just a few decades ago, young adults felt ready to begin a life independent from their family, starting with marriage. Recent studies identified that young people today place marriage at a priority 40% lower than their parents. Often these young adults no longer even consider marriage or finishing school or becoming a parent–as being important criteria for becoming an adult. Now they see more internally defined qualities, such as taking responsibility for one’s actions and becoming an independent decision-maker, as the markers of adulthood. This new age of exploring one’s own identity and needing to experience life has become its own developmental stage: “emerging adulthood.”
Not only have millennials become such a perplexing generation to study developmentally–to the point where they now have an obscure stage of life named after them–they also are known to have gained a misconception that there is only one perfect person out there for them.
Reason #2: “soul mates”
A lot of individuals make lists of all the traits they feel they can’t live without in a spouse. They feel they need to find the perfect person tailored to specifically to them. They are quick to weed out great people who they could potentially grow to love and admire enough to marry, all because they may be holding out for “the one” who might come along. Just because someone doesn’t fit the height or occupation description, have the same goals and dreams, didn’t grow up in an ideal family situation, or have the same music taste does not mean they are not worthy of being given a chance. Soul mates are just simply not a thing.
Young adults would be wise to give each other the opportunity of getting to know a wide variety of people that would very well be a great fit for them in marriage–not let unimportant checklist items become deal-breakers. Doing so will expand their dating pool, making it statistically more probable to find someone they will grow to love, and before they know it, sparks will be flying. Those looking to marry need to be kind and open-minded to the possibilities of their prospects.
These two reasons may pose concerns for some people, but millennials just need to have a little more faith. When individuals enter adulthood, they need to enter with both feet and take full responsibility of their future. With that comes the need to date and marry. Doing so can be such a fun adventure. There doesn’t need to be so much pressure placed on it.
As young adults meet new people and have a good time, they will gain more interests in others and find people they are compatible with. This will increase their likelihood of getting married, which will help diminish the marriage delay we are witnessing today.
(For more information on delayed marriage in America, visit http://twentysomethingmarriage.org/.)