Marriage and Millenials

A few weeks ago, as is my habit, I pulled up “The Briefing”[1] and was surprised to learn that, according to a new study, divorce rates are steadily declining. Why? It seems that our generation has a different perspective on marriage than previous generations.

New data show younger couples are approaching relationships very differently from baby boomers, who married young, divorced, remarried and so on… The result is a U.S. divorce rate that dropped 18 percent from 2008 to 2016, according to an analysis by University of Maryland sociology professor Philip Cohen.[2]

At first, the drop in the divorce rate sounded hopeful, but after a closer look, I realized the divorce rates are only falling because millennials are marrying less. They are waiting to marry until they finish college, acquire financial stability, and are on their way up the corporate ladder. “Millennials have considered marriage to be more of a capstone than a cornerstone institution.”[3] Millennials see marriage as a luxury only for those who have their lives put together, not just for any old Joe or Mary…

Something New?

But for many, the deeper reason for their unwillingness to marry is because they fear choosing the wrong spouse. “This lack of formal commitment, in my opinion, is a way to cope with anxiety and uncertainty about making the ‘right’ decision,” says Rhodes in a Gottman Institute article. “In previous generations, people were more willing to make that decision and figure it out.”[4] Furthermore, many have watched as their parent’s marriages have fallen apart, making them skittish to start their own.

But don’t think the millennial generation is avoiding relationships. In fact, our generation has hundreds of possible dating options because of the rise in dating sites and social media. Instead of marrying, however, young people are “shacking up,” to use the old euphemism. They are cohabitating, hoping to acquire the benefits of marriage without the commitment. Or as the Atlantic reported a few years ago, “people who opt for cohabitation over marriage tend to cite the fear of divorce as the central reason not to get married.”[5]

Not much has changed

It seems we have come full circle and, for better or for worse, not much has changed. The divorce rates are down but so are the marriage rates. And as the marriage rates go down so do the divorce rates. Our generation’s solution for divorce is to avoid marriage. “Let’s just live together,” they say.

From a biblical worldview, we know that this solution is ultimately hopeless and will not bring the desired results. Living together doesn’t solve the commitment issue or take away the fear of divorce. Those who cohabitate still “divorce;” they just avoid the legal headache. What this generation lacks is a basis for marriage. They ignore or don’t know that their Creator has given them the basis for marriage and the solution to their fear of divorce and commitment.

Hope for Lasting Commitment

The gospel is the solution found in the Scriptures.

The gospel is the good news that God, the Creator of each man and women, sent His beloved Son in the form of man, to live, die, and rise again for sinful, rebellious mankind. We rejected Him, but He freely gave Himself for us that we might be saved from the wrath to come. And when sinful man accepts God’s free gift by faith and surrenders his all to Him, he or she becomes the bride of Christ.[6]

The gospel is relevant to this topic because God created marriage to illustrate his great love for his creation as found in the gospel. The husband’s servant leadership demonstrates how Christ “loved the church [you and me] and gave Himself for her.”[7] The wife’s willing submission points to the church’s [you and I] willing surrender and humble obedience to Christ.

An objective standard in Scripture commands a marriage partner to commit to their spouse for the rest of their life. Both spouses are under a higher authority, Christ Jesus, and He has commanded that, as His love for His people is unending, so should a husband and wife’s love be for each other.  If both the husband and wife are believers, they can go into marriage with faith that it will last. The basis for a committed marriage without the fear of divorce is the Word of God.

Now What?

In the midst of the confusion and chaos that surrounds marriage, our generation needs a sure foundation. As believers, we rest on the Word of God and the gospel. If you have the opportunity, talk to unbelievers about the gospel and the biblical perspective of marriage. Don’t take God’s gift of His word for granted. With this foundation, we no longer need to fear divorce, but we can commit ourselves to a spouse for the rest of our lives.

Aaron's Radi-Call Bio Photo Aaron Beery and his wife, Sadie, live in Elnora, Indiana, where he serves as the Administrative Assistant at the Elnora Bible Institute. He enjoys playing the piano, singing, reading and horseback riding. He hopes to use his counseling training to speak into people’s lives in this sin-cursed world for the glory of God.
  1. A podcast by Albert Mohler on current events. He airs it five days a week.
  6. Romans 1-8; Ephesians 2
  7. Ephesians 5:25 (NKJV)

8 thoughts on “Marriage and Millenials

  1. I don’t mean to rain on your parade as this article touches on some definite truth. However, my thought after reading this was, “This doesn’t relate to any Convservative Mennonites that I know.” I don’t know of any young Mennnonites that would claim to serve God and yet be “shacking up” with each other. What I do see is a lot of confused singles that either are too insecure or selfish to try to get married, or they would like to get married and it just isn’t happening. That would be something to look into.


    1. Kendrick, thanks for reading my article and for your comment! I agree with you; it doesn’t normally apply to conservative Anabaptists. My intention was to look at the declining divorce rate and hopefully, give young Anabaptists a biblical perspective on the issue. I was actually considering covering some of the issues you listed above, but decided it was to much content to cover in one article. Hopefully, we can have a few articles in the future that look at those problems.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s interesting I came across this post today. Only yesterday I was doing reading for my psychology class and came across the very same information about divorce and cohabitation and marriage. My textbook also cited higher expectations for marriage today as a reason Americans are not marrying or are dissatisfied with there marriages. Any thoughts on that idea?


    1. April, thank you for your comment! I also ran across this idea when I was doing my research for this article. It seems Americans, as a whole, do have higher expectations for those they marry. This maybe partly due to the high rate of divorce among the Baby Boomers and Generation X. The younger generation doesn’t want the same thing to happen to them so they are very careful before committing to marriage. What are your thoughts?


  3. You are spot on in saying why the moderns are shying away from marrying because they fear a possible divorce. The next question is why do they divorce?
    I worked at a Crises Pregnancy Center for many years where most of my clients were single and since we live in the deep south, black. Marriages are rare among blacks so they opt to shacking. Then, I decided to ask them why don’t they marry? The answer was always the same.. “I am afraid to get married because my friends tell me the guys are so sweet to you before they get married and then afterwards they turn mean.” One can easily analyze this and rightly conclude the reasons why this is so: submission to authority – God – and then to each other thus serving, sacrificing for the benefit of the other and not for your own selfish welfare. For the male the thrill of the pursuit and conquer is no longer there so now he relaxes and his true character becomes the ruling force in his life, thus inflicting pain to the one he promised to love and cherish.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sandra, thank you for your comment! I think you present an excellent point. Divorce is happening because we have rejected God as our authority. And I do believe that we, as biblical believers, are called to show to the world around us what it means to submit to God and humbly serve others.

      Liked by 1 person

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