7 ways millennials are changing marriage, from signing prenups to staying together longer than past generations

Uriel Sinai/Getty ImagesMillennials are marrying later in life — and breaking other marriage conventions.

Marriage is getting a generational face-lift.

The reasons are many.

Often the children of divorce themselves, millennials tend to fear going through one. So they’re being strategic when it comes to love. They’re taking more time to find the right partner, cohabitating before legally committing, and signing prenups to protect their assets. As a result, they’re bringing the divorce rate down.

Many millennials are also delaying marriage for economic reasons – burdened with financial struggles like debt, they want to become financially successful first. And as more couples come together from different cultural or religious backgrounds, they’re more likely to pay for multiple ceremonies.

But that’s for those millennials who do marry – the generation is also helping to bring the marriage rate down.

From love to weddings, here’s how millennials are evolving marriage.


Millennials are fuelling a declining divorce rate.

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Millennials are driving what experts have estimated is a 24% decline in the US divorce rate since the 1980s, Hannah Smothers reported for Cosmopolitan. Many millennials fear breakups and are taking more time to find the right partner to avoid an unstable marriage.

They’re also taking time to get their financial act together first – like establishing a career and paying off student-loan debt – so they can enter marriage with less stress.


Millennials are marrying at a later age.

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Taking more time to find the right partner and prioritise financial success is causing many millennials to marry later in life compared with previous generations.

The median age of first marriage in the US is 27 for women and 29 for men, according to the US Census Bureau.

And those who have found the right partner are waiting longer in their relationships to get married – 4.9 years on average,INSIDER’s Kristin Salaky reported, citing a 2017 study from Bridebook, a UK wedding company.


Millennials are cohabitating and even buying homes together before marriage.

More couples are cohabitating before marriage – as much as a sixfold increase from their parents’ generation – in another move contributing to a decline in divorce rates, INSIDER’s Kim Renfro reported in 2016.

A study published in 2007 in the Journal of Marriage and Family found that living together “has become part of the pathway toward marriage.”

Some couples are even buying homes together before getting engaged, prioritising homeownership over marriage. This reflects a generational shift in attitudes toward marriage and is a result of economic conditions – high housing prices make splitting a mortgage favourable.


More millennials aren’t marrying at all.

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But some millennials aren’t marrying at all – an estimated 25% of millennials are unlikely to ever marry.

Marriage rates are declining as several millennials find marriage less important than it used to be, Rachel Sussman, a psychotherapist and relationship expert at Sussman Counseling, previously told Business Insider.

The marriage rate decreased to half of US adults in 2017 from 72% in 1960.

A paper published last year by the University of Zurich economist David Dorn found that declining marriage rates were affected by traditional gender roles and economic forces making men less appealing partners. A decline in typically male-dominated manufacturing jobs and those benefits had made men less attractive as husbands, the study found.


More millennials are signing prenups.

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Prenuptial agreements, which set expectations for a division of assets and finances in the event of a divorce, are usually associated with the wealthy. But they’re shedding their stigma and becoming increasingly popular among Americans, especially millennials.

About half of lawyers surveyed in 2016 by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers said they had seen an increase in prenups among millennials, and 62% said they’d seen a rise in prenups overall from 2013 to 2016.

It’s more evidence of how millennials tend to fear divorce and marry at a later age. Many are predisposed to protect their interests, especially when it comes to the assets and debt they have had more time to accumulate before marrying.


Many millennials are having multiple wedding ceremonies.

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Multiple wedding ceremonies are a rising trend among couples tying the knot. Combined, these ceremonies cost $US50,000 on average but can exceed $US100,000,Jessica Schiffer reported for The New York Times earlier this year.

“Multiceremony wedding experiences are becoming more common among couples looking to accommodate different cultural and religious backgrounds, not to mention guests who may not be able to afford pricey destination weddings,” Schiffer wrote.

More than half of couples today are marrying someone with a different background, reducing the perception that multiple ceremonies are “over the top,” Schiffer said, citing stats from WeddingWire.


Millennials are having weddings that are more nontraditional.

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When tying the knot, millennial couples are doing things outside the norm.

They tend to ditch traditional weddings, opting for unconventional venues such as barns and farms over banquet halls and hotel reception rooms, Business Insider’s Mary Hanbury reported last year, citing a survey by The Knot.

Because they’re waiting longer to get married and cohabitating first, millennials have time to build a collection of household staples. As a result, “honeyfunds” and cash have become more popular wedding gift options than items like toasters or gravy boats, Linda Marx reported for The Times in 2015.

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