Declining Rates of Marriage
Each generation has specific priorities and beliefs based on the current state of society. The millennial generation (those born from 1981 to 1996) has shifted views surrounding marriage quite a bit more than past generations. While marriage was once “just thing people do”, current generations have spent more time focusing on advancing their careers, gaining financial stability, and thinking more deeply about what marriage really means.
Since the peak of high marriage rates around the 1950s, marriage rates have declined quite a bit. In 1960, 72% of Americans were married, according to U.S. Census data. Today, only about 50% of Americans are married. In addition, not only are fewer people getting married, but they’re also waiting longer to get married. This is due to several societal factors, such as more college attendance and longer lifespans.
Did you know the average age for first-time marriage has shifted much older than in past generations? In 1950, the average age for a woman to get married was 20.3 years old, while the average male age was 22.9. By today’s standards, most people would be shocked at this! Today, most young adults in their early 20s may still be in college and are far away from thinking about getting married.
Cohabitation before Marriage
As the years go by, trends surrounding marriage have changed quite a bit. If you ask your parents or grandparents, you may find they tell you that living together before marriage was not quite as common as it was today. Traditionally, a couple would first move in together after they already wed.
According to research from the Pew Research Center (2019), most Americans today find it acceptable for an unmarried to cohabitate together before marriage. This is true whether they’re dating with plans to get married or not.
Younger generations have begun cohabitating before marriage more than past generations. A study conducted by Pew Research Center surveyed participants and found that 69% believed it was acceptable for unmarried couples to live together, whether or not they plan to get married. Another 16% responded saying it’s fine to live together before marriage, but only if they’re engaged. The remaining 14% said cohabitation before marriage is unacceptable.
So, what makes the public perception of cohabitation before marriage change? The changes throughout the years are based on many factors. Other demographic factors, such as race, age of respondents, and religious affiliation also can shape these beliefs.
Today, younger adults view marriage differently than it was viewed years ago. As such, younger adults generally respond that it is acceptable to live together before marriage, whereas a smaller percentage of other generations agree.
5 Tips for Living with Your Partner
Whether you’re dating, engaged, or married, joining households with a new person takes time and patience. Even couples who are quite similar find themselves needing to make adjustments when they move in with their partner. Check out these five tips to help make the transition to living with your partner easier:
- Stay Together Before Living Together: Many couples find the transition to living together easier when they’ve spent time staying over at their partner’s place before. Whether your partner comes to your place or you go to theirs, spending several days together can give you a glimpse of what it will be like to live together. Perhaps this means staying over two to three nights a week.
By doing this, you’ll see how your partner’s daily routine works and what it looks like. You will get a glimpse into their lifestyle that you can’t get while you’re out on a date. People often act differently when in public than in the comfort of their own homes. Once you finally join households, you’ll already know what you’re getting into.
- Take Alone Time: Already moved in with your partner? Moving in together is an exciting step and milestone in a relationship. While it’s easy to get wrapped up in wanting to spend every moment together, remember to strive for balance. Too much time spent, even with the love of your life, can lead to problems. It is important to be sure not to neglect your relationships with friends and family. In addition, take time to yourself to think, breathe, and do “your own thing”. This alone time can actually help strengthen your relationship with your partner.
- Set Boundaries: When you live alone, there are no rules except the ones you set for yourself. Living alone allowed you to do things exactly as you please, without considering anyone else’s needs. As you join households with your partner, both people’s concerns and desires must be addressed. One good way to do this is to start by setting some boundaries for moving in together. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a novel-long list of rules, but you and your partner should express some basic things that are important to you. For example, some couples wish to receive advance notice if a friend or group of friends are coming over. Couples who successfully cohabitate respect each other’s boundaries. Even if it isn’t something you necessarily agree with, the living space is just as much your partner’s as it is yours.
- Try a Test Run: Purchasing a home together is a big step. As such, many couples choose to rent a living space as a “trial run”. This gives you and your partner the chance to explore what it is like to live with one another, without a long-term commitment. Many apartments offer month-to-month or short-term leases. If all goes well, you and your partner will have lots of time to determine the best long-term living situation. If it doesn’t, both partners can separate without a complicated division of assets.
- Communicate: Many relationship problems begin with a root cause of poor communication. Moving in together can be an exciting time, but it can also be stressful. Signing leases, packing boxes, and arranging a move can be time-consuming and anxiety-producing. Be honest and open with your partner throughout the moving process. Communication is always the key!
Talk About Prenups
Engaged and cohabitating with your partner? That’s the best time to talk about a prenup. To learn more about the benefits of a prenup, keep checking out our blog!
Julia Rodgers is HelloPrenup’s CEO and Co-Founder. She is a Massachusetts family law attorney and true believer in the value of prenuptial agreements. HelloPrenup was created with the goal of automating the prenup process, making it more collaborative, time efficient and cost effective. Julia believes that a healthy marriage is one in which couples can openly communicate about finances and life goals. You can read more about us here Questions? Reach out to Julia directly at [email protected].