Young people are marrying later than they did in the past.
“In 1963, the typical American woman married at 21 years of age and the typical man wed at 23. By 2014, those figures climbed to ages 27 for women and 29 for men,” according to a 2015 Pew Research Center study.
Dr. William Chopik, a Michigan State University psychology professor, said that is because more millennials are establishing a career before settling down.
“A lot of times, women would quit their jobs, start families and marry very young,” Chopik said. “But then as more and more women would enter the workforce, they delayed marriage as more of an optional thing. As a result, we saw that the marriage age kind of crept up.”
Michael Bouchard, 23, is one of the few people in his ROTC program at Michigan State University not married or engaged. In the military, he said, it is common for people to get married at a younger age because there are added benefits for spouses.
“I think that young people don’t necessarily realize that marriage is a lifelong commitment and they’re not truly who they’re going to be yet,” Bouchard said. “I think a lot of relationships fail because one person grows and the other person doesn’t and they kind of run away from each other intelligence wise.”
Bouchard wants to be financially stable before committing to a marriage. Financial stability to Bouchard means establishing his career before settling down with someone.
When asked his opinion on why the median age for marriage has been pushed back, Bouchard said he thinks women are more prominent in the workplace.
“I remember my dad told me when my Grandpa would come from the work day, my grandma was waiting by the door with a drink waiting for him,” Bouchard said. “I see my parents and my dad comes home and says, ‘Where’s your mom?’ and I’ll say, ‘She’s at a work meeting and she won’t be home until 9:30; she said we are on our own for dinner.’”
Chopik said World War II played a significant role in women’s independence and the changed trend in marriage. He said more women began joining the workforce during the era of World War II, when men went off to fight and women took over factories. When the war ended, some women went back to being housewives and mothers, but some stayed in the workforce.
“When you give people a choice, they don’t always choose what has traditionally been given to them,” Chopik said. “So a lot of women started making careers of their own.”
Chopik said the institution of marriage among young people has changed over the years. Chopik said some millennials view marriage as an “antiquated system.”
“If you really love someone and want to be with them, marriage isn’t really like this stamp that has to happen to validate the relationship,” Chopik said. “It’s just this sort of disinterest in marriage rather than relationships dramatically changing because people have been loving each other and being in relationships forever.”
MSU pre-physician assistant junior Kayleigh Scherzer, 21, is defying the trend. She and her fiancé, 24-year-old finance Ben Vanderstarre, set a wedding date for March 2018 after dating for just six months. The two met after Scherzer and her friends found him while having a “wine and Tinder night.” She swiped right, the two met a few weeks later and were engaged shortly after.
“It shouldn’t really hold you down from going the places you want to go and doing the things you want to do,” Scherzer said. “It just gives you a person to do that with, and we both have that outlook. I don’t see it as more of a hindering, I see it as an added bonus.”