Love and Divorce Throughout the Generations

Are millennials affecting marriage and divorce rates?


(Image by Pixabay)

Phi Kasem-Beg

In today’s modern age, aspects of our culture are constantly evolving. With the introduction of new influential movements and aspects of society, the dynamics of day to day life have changed. Compared to past decades, almost everything can be accomplished by the press of a button or a quick phone call. The way mankind treats and approaches our relationships has changed as well as more and more online dating apps influence the way we date. Although people in today’s modern age experience love and relationships differently than past generations have, how have marriages survived through the decades as time passses?

As decades pass and different generational gaps emerge, there has become a clear distinction between Baby Boomers, born in 1943-1964; Generation X, born in 1965-1979; Millennials, born in 1980-2000; and Generation Z, born in 2001-Present. Each generation has its own defining characteristics, such as Millenials experiencing the emergence of the internet and Generation Z experiencing life through the lens of Post-9/11 terrorist attacks. Each generation also possess their own set morals and goals in life, and in a period with increasing generational gaps and contrasting morals, the dynamics of relationships have changed.

For Baby Boomers and Generation X, a common trend is to settle down with a significant other and create a large, prosperous family. According to the Pew Research Center, a common trend in the past two decades, however, is the rise in divorce rates with Baby Boomers in the lead. Among ages 65 and older, the divorce rate in America has roughly tripled since 1990, reaching six divorced people per 1,000 married persons in 2015. This trend is likely due to couples separating after their children have grown up and moved out as they become more independent and continue their education. Couples around this age and older are likely to separate due to growing differences as time passes. Many Baby Boomer couples claim to separate mutually instead of the divorce being caused by infidelity or conflict. They are willing to make life changes if their marriage does not live up to their expectations, as many Baby Boomers tend to prepare to cross items off of their bucket list as their lives slow down.

For Generation X, about 70% of marriages that began in the 1990s reached their 15th anniversary. That’s a significant increase over the 65% that made it that far in the 1970s and 1980s. According to AvvoStories, the statistics continue to improve with time, as those who wed in the 2000s are divorcing at even lower rates. Compared to Baby Boomers, there is a significant decrease in divorce rates for this age group. Generation X is found to have a higher success rate for marriages.

Millennials, however, have a lower divorce rate, but this is likely due to lower marriage rates among this age group. According to a New York Times article titled “Put a Ring on It? Millennial Couples Are in No Hurry,” an eHarmony report on relationships found that American couples aged 25 to 34 knew each other for an average of six and a half years before marrying, compared with an average of five years for all other age groups. Millennials are spending much more time getting to know their significant other rather than jumping into marriage within a handful of years. Individuals within this age group also tend to place more emphasis on establishing a solid career before making influential life decisions such as marriage or having children. According to AvvoStories, so far, it is reported that only around 26% of Millennial couples are married. Lower marriage rates may have a correlation with the younger generations’ need to reject their parents’ philosophies of marriage and love. Individuals within the younger generation also may have experienced the divorce of their parents’, causing them to doubt the institution of marriage and what true love means to them.

Generational gaps and time have played a crucial role in defining relationships, and technology is only beginning to influence the recent generations. With popular apps such as Tinder and, hookup culture, which accepts and encourages casual sexual encounters, is becoming more prevalent in today’s day and age. Relationships are becoming redefined as more couples are meeting online than ever before compared to past methods of blind dates or asking somebody out after seeing them in public. It is too soon to say whether or not Millennials will be the generation with the lowest divorce rate as there are only a small percentage of individuals getting married in this age group, yet these results are looking promising. Millennials may be the generation that take relationships more seriously and make a long term commitment with a significant other before tying the knot, but only time will tell.