Marriage, perhaps more than anything else, has granted me the marginal successes I enjoy. Yet marriage, like most other established institutions, is undeniably unpopular among my millennial generation.
To be sure, the reasons why millennials prolong getting married are exceedingly vast and complex, and I don’t pretend to be familiar with any number of these reasons. But, I do think some of them are economically driven, if not most.
A recent Bloomberg article, for instance, characterized millennials as a generation “killing marriage,” incapable of homeownership, living with their parents, and facing high rates of unemployment. In fact, the only measure in which millennials are surpassing their predecessors is education, a measure asterisked by alarming amounts of debt, really only adding insult to injury.
Put simply, millennials are facing economic anxieties unseen in generations. Given this, it makes sense that millennials would approach marriage as a commitment they are in no way financially prepared to make. Moreover, marriage is seen as a commitment that would actually be financially irresponsible to undertake.
Yet marriage, I suggest, is precisely the motivating drive lifting me out of my own economic crises; it is what has motivated me to pick myself up by the proverbial “bootstraps” and overcome the economic hurdles that too frequently leave millennials in the mud.
Generation Opportunity’s 2016 “State of the Millennial Report” demonstrated that many millennials have flat out given up on the job hunt after the search left them frustrated and, understandably, discouraged.
I myself repeatedly faced similar discouragements after graduating from college, and ultimately accepted what was initially an unpaid internship just weeks before getting married. But it was having a responsibility to someone besides myself that left no room for giving up.
Failure is literally not an option in marriage.
Obviously I don’t believe that such a cold, utilitarian analysis of marriage is one that ultimately would convince others of the worth of an otherwise loving and freeing commitment. Rather, I think such an analysis is a legitimate and often overlooked response to one of marriage’s most common objections: finances. It’s no coincidence that married men and women consistently record the highest rates of employment.
Marriage has only helped my financial situation, not hurt it. It has forced me to keep going when giving up would otherwise be on the table.
Of course, I would never encourage others to rush into a questionable relationship, nor would I suggest that marriage is a smart solution to economic troubles. Instead, I’d suggest this: economic troubles are not a smart objection to marriage.