Bible, Culture, Family, Millennials, Theology

Millennials and Marriage

August 31, 2016

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My little sister, Danielle, just got married. I have four younger sisters, and she is the first to join me in the married club. Danielle is one of my best friends, and I absolutely love walking with her through the different seasons of life. Now that will include walking with her in this new, exciting chapter in her life! She is 23, and she and Caleb have a cute little place to call their own. Yet the latest research shows that they are not the norm.

Why are millennials (18-34 year olds) more likely to be living with their parents than living with a spouse? A 2014 Pew Research report noted that for the first time in American history since 1880, young adults are more likely to be living with parents than living with a spouse or cohabitating with a partner. The Pew report points to a few reasons why this might be so:

  1. The postponement of marriage until later in their twenties (or total retreat from marriage).
  2. Lower employment rates among young people, and increasingly lower wages (after inflation) for young men when compared to 1970.
  3. Higher college enrollment since the Great Recession (late 2000s to early 2010s) led to more young adults living at home.

Although all of these reasons are suggested as causes for this phenomenon, the report emphasizes the delay of marriage as the leading cause, over and above the lower employment rates and higher college attendance factors.

Having lived in two U.S. cities that vary culturally – Oklahoma City and New York City – I have seen both ends of the spectrum when it comes to marriage age. New York is one of the oldest-marrying states, with the average marriage age being 28.8 for women and 30.3 for men. The only location with an older-marrying age is Washington, DC. In contrast, Oklahoma is one of the youngest-marrying states, with the average marriage age being 24.8 for women and 26.3 for men. Only Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming have a younger-marrying age.

I’ve heard a lot of people, too, that support the idea of marrying at an older age. Their logic is understandable: enjoy singleness, be independent and free while you can, “find yourself” before you settle down, focus on your career first, etc. But what about doing these things alongside a spouse? It may take longer, because there inevitably needs to be time factored into your schedule to work on the marriage – but I also think there is great power in partnering.

Our culture sees individual autonomy as the highest good. Yet while this does keep some people from having a positive view of marriage as the gift that it is, I want to acknowledge that there are also those who are led to remain single or desire to be married but haven’t found the right person yet. To those that are single, your singleness does not mean that you are “incomplete,” or waiting for “real adulthood” to begin. Singleness should be valued. God uses single people to teach others valuable lessons as well. But I want to challenge those of us in the millennial generation that may delay marriage because of the cultural notion that individual autonomy should be valued over collaboration.

I recently read an article where Jeannie Gaffigan, wife of comedian Jim Gaffigan, was being interviewed. She points out that culture subliminally tells us that we have to be 100% on our own – independent and autonomous. But independence can be overrated. It is not weak to be joined up with someone – whether a spouse or even a team. We can accomplish more in a team than we can on our own. The same goes for marriage. When you are teamed up with someone, it may take a little longer to get where you want to be, but in the end you can go farther.

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I was younger than the average Oklahoman when I got married at 21 in 2009, and I wouldn’t change it for anything. Marriage has taught me a lot over the years. It has shown me more of my selfishness than anything else in my life thus far, and I value those lessons. (I hear this happens all over again when you have kids– but I’m not there yet!) It has also taught me how to work with someone who has opposite strengths, and this has allowed me to grow in areas where I am weak. I also have built-in accountability, which grows my character. All of these things have been beneficial for me in other areas of life and in my work.

Mostly what I am grateful for is the way that I’ve learned more about the gospel through marriage. Marriage is not for my happiness, but for my holiness. My husband has seen my worst moments, and I have seen his. No one can cause more pain than those closest to you, and in the times where I have wronged Michael, he has showed me grace and forgiveness. And likewise, as he has wronged me, I have had the chance to practice forgiveness for him. I can have the strength to forgive because I know that I have been forgiven exponentially more through Jesus Christ’s (Colossians 2:12-13; 3:12-17; 1 John 4:7-12, 19-21).

Marriage was created by God and is for our good. Let’s not allow culture to fool us into de-valuing this gift.

 

-LM

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14

More pics from the magical night can be found on my instagram @laurenamcafee!

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8 Comments

  • Reply jane z mazzola August 31, 2016 at 8:59 pm

    1. This is interesting to me because my husband & I have twin girls, millennials, just had 26 birthdays, & even though finances are slim, they prefer living independently & have done so since they were 21. We get along well & lovingly + have plenty of room in our family home, but this is their preference that we respect & applaud. Actually, all 6 of our children have moved out after HS, & always had their own abodes, except for very brief times.
    The next part @ the delays in marriage seems to be the case for all the generations after the WWII & next one. Our older children were all in mid 20’s; our twins seem to have no interests any time soon; & our 3 granddaughters (millennials also), while in relationships, frankly I hope, will defer marriage until grad school & careers are established. Marriage, to me, is still more adjusting & compromising for the woman than the man, so I think the girls, in the long run, would be giving up more of their goals to accommodate the relationships. I consider myself a very fortunate woman, considering my generation, that I was able, after a number of years, to move toward my own personal educational & career goals, even w/a family; however, not all women have been able to do so, by choice, opportunity, or ability later on. Will/does later make a difference in divorce rates? Maybe makes it higher! As you said, “selfishness’; it does become more ingrained! Your comment @ marriage meant to make you more “holy” than “happy”, caused me to wonder if you are familiar w/a very good book (I found it through AACC website, but Amazon, too, I am sure) SACRED MARRIAGE:What If GOD Designed Marriage To Make Us HOLY More Than To Make Us HAPPY?, by Gary l. Thomas, a writer-in residence @ 2nd Baptist Church, Houston, TX; Zondervan, 2015, ISBN#978-0-310-33737-9. I love the fact that you & your husband pray together, an ingredient often missing in marriage/family life in every generation. You are blest that you have sought to have God in your relationship. Blessings to you both, & the possibility of the child you hope to adopt.

  • Reply Anna September 2, 2016 at 2:48 pm

    ”To those that are single, your singleness does not mean that you are “incomplete,” or waiting for “real adulthood” to begin. Singleness should be valued. God uses single people to teach others valuable lessons as well.”
    This is true… The problem lies not only in single people who struggle with feeling ”complete” but people within the church (old AND young marrieds) who treat single people as incomplete or not-quite-an-adult because we’re not part of the ”married club.” While it is true that single people don’t have a frame of reference for a huge part of most people’s ”adulting” (i.e. marriage with or without children), they really are adults! I’m 27, single (have never even been in a relationship) woman, and living on my own, away from my family. I’m fully an adult, yet it seems that many people see my singleness as a continuous party, when in fact it is a huge daily burden to be cast on the Lord. Yes, some of our responsibilities look different from a married person’s, but we still do all the adult things–cleaning, cooking, errands, bills, decisions–but without the comfort and support of a spouse.

  • Reply Paul September 2, 2016 at 2:58 pm

    Thank you for your blog post. I agree, marriage is a sacred gift from God to be valued, so valued, in fact, we should be careful not to use age as the primary way to define when a person should go for it. Some individuals don’t have the emotional and spiritual health to just get married and ‘figure it out’ together in their mid twenties.

    I married at 22, and have seen fewer and fewer folks go that route in 20 years; in my experience, emotional health, a broken family and financial issues have more to do with waiting to settle down than the ‘independence’ mindset voiced by the self-promoted spokesperson Mrs. Gaffigan (she is not the best value spokesperson for our culture; no one person is…).

    Why would a “millennials” be in a hurry to recreate the marriage (or lack thereof) they saw modeled? Generally speaking, they aren’t. Angling your post with the title ‘Millennials and Marriage’ led me to believe you might be a little more gracious to our single and divorced brothers and sisters in Christ (unfortunately, many under 35 are divorced already who got married young).

  • Reply Devi September 2, 2016 at 9:36 pm

    I get what you’re trying to say here (about marriage), but I don’t see why it’s a bad thing for millenials to be living with their parents. If anything, isn’t this a great thing? For Christian parents especially? A longer season of discipleship with older kids, I long for that (we have littles right now). I’m from an Asian background, and in most places in Asia and the Middle East, kids live with their parents until marriage, millenial or not. There are lots of men in their 30s in China, India, Sri Lanka, etc. who live with their parents because they are not married, and this is considered more than normal, it is the only way to do it.

    • Reply Lauren Mcafee October 13, 2016 at 3:41 pm

      Hello Devi! Good point. I don’t think that it is always bad for millennials to be living with parents. I myself have siblings who lived with my parents briefly after college while they were getting their feet under them.
      I do think that it can be problematic when millennials are living with parents because they are lazy, or want to depend on their parents to provide for them so that they don’t have to work. This is of course not the case for all millennials. So, to your point about many millennials living with parents, in different cultures, I understand that is a viable option for some, and even helpful! Just as long as we are still encouraging hard work, and a vision for pursuing God’s plan for their life.

  • Reply jennifer tankard September 3, 2016 at 11:33 am

    I found this blog to be no different than the other blogs on why people my age are not married. It needs more meat! I am 29 single with no children. I would like to be married, not against marriage at all. I do not believe what the culture has to say about being single. However, I do feel personally what culture has done to contribute to the lack of marriage. Women are being put higher than men in this country. There are more women enrolled in a majority of colleges and universities in America than men. There are more women entering the workforce than men. At my job, we have no men in my vocational position. All women. The men are in a lower position. Why is that? As we continue to encourage our young girls to do better in life, we are pushing out boys down. By the time a guy gets to the marriage age, many women are in a higher position than he is career wise and many time life wise. There are more single women in this country that own their own home verses single men. For the first time in the history of the United States election process, single women are not a voting block. The age of marriage will continue to be higher and higher, if we continue to push for this notion that women are better by herself and men need to be pushed to the background. Most women my age will share that they would like to have a partner with them to do life with. Myself included, but where are the men? We are ready! Not all men are like what I have describe. There are really good Godly men asking, where are all the women? We have to be brought together!

    • Reply Lauren Mcafee October 13, 2016 at 3:37 pm

      Intersting perspective! I appreciate you feedback Jennifer!

  • Reply Ann December 9, 2016 at 4:24 pm

    This is great Lauren. My husband and I consider ourselves wanna be millennialist. After living overseas for 15 years, we don’t fit in but can relate to this topic. The pain of broken home and the consequences in American society are evident. I love the way you talk about the marriage and seeing one another at our worst and even hurting each other at times. But, the blessings of choosing to live each other everyday over our 20 years of marriage had made us so much stronger and able to live an adventuresome life! Thank you for sharing and please blog more!

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