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OPINION: We’re all going to die alone

Canva Illustration by Virginia Doherty

White picket fence, 2.1 children, a home and spouse to greet you at the end of the day. Maybe a dog, who knows?  Many of us pictured the classic suburban dream when our teachers asked us what our future looked like a decade ago.  While that might not be quite the goal anymore, the majority of Gen Z does see marriage in their future. Unfortunately, the likelihood of having a life partner, legally recognized or otherwise, is lower than ever.

All of those lofty ideals we had for potential romantic partners as children have mostly fallen away now, and our minds go towards all of the obstacles to love instead of the possibility of its success. Especially as college students, our experiences largely trend towards dating apps, hookups, situationships and talking phases. The stuff of fairy tales.

Despite our rather bleak present, most of Gen Z remains hopeful for the future and the prospect of a family, a loyal spouse and support system far into our old age.  In all likelihood, those hopes and dreams will amount to very little. For many, marriage won’t be an experience they have at all, and for others, their lifelong commitment will end in divorce, potentially leading to another lifelong commitment, potentially ending in yet another divorce.

All of that isn’t to say that it’s impossible or that love doesn’t even exist—just that America’s perception of marriage and commitment is drastically shifting. While our newfound acceptance of divorce is amazing for people in abusive relationships, people whose partners have abandoned them or for others in such extreme scenarios, it has also created this idea that marriage shouldn’t be taken as a serious commitment and instead can be seen as something that only lasts as long as you want it to.

As this culture around divorce has accelerated, older couples have been cutting ties at accelerating rates as well. While it’s generally true that risk of divorce overall declines from your first year of marriage to a couple decades in, the rate of divorce after age 50 has doubled since 1990. Of course, there are many other factors to this. From longer life spans to increasing economic independence for women, these are all aspects that will affect us later on in life as well.

As Gen Z moves into adulthood, marriage is something that many are beginning to seriously consider. However, 1 in 6 of Gen Z and Millennials are not planning to get married. Both generations have cited numerous reasons to hold off on or never even consider marriage, including a simple disinterest in the institution and not being financially ready.

In terms of finances at least, marriage is one of the best moves you can make.  Of course, if the issue is the cost of an extravagant wedding, then a lot of upfront capital is needed. A wedding, however, has very little to do with marriage and is one of the least important considerations when selecting a partner and building a life together.  

Rather, when both people have a source of income, marriage generally allows for bigger loans, better access to credit, actually allows for a tax break, reduced cost of living, higher IRA contributions and better social security benefits. In short, marriage provides a much brighter economic future in the long run. This isn’t a reason to get married, but finances are absolutely not a reason to delay marriage.

Even though the vast majority of Gen Z does hope to get married in the future, and maintain that marriage, many of them will be disappointed in their reality. The number of people getting married has declined by 60% since the 1970’s, and divorce rates for first marriages sit around 50%, with second or third marriages having even higher failure rates.

Unfortunately, for those of us who are interested in marriage, even if we do find a spouse, the likelihood of having a partner till death do us part is lower than ever.

Even so, there are always success stories of couples who have stayed together against all odds, who have long-lasting relationships that have stood the test of time. If marriage is a goal for you —as it is for most of our generation —then it is something you should pursue, regardless of statistics that don’t take individual situations into account.  Some of us have to succeed, after all.  

Be part of the 50% that don’t give up on each other.

Virginia Doherty is an opinion writer. Contact her at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Virginia Doherty, Opinion Writer
Virginia is a sophomore majoring in history and art history with minors in marketing and non-profit studies. She enjoys writing about politics, history, religion, and fashion.
Contact her at [email protected]

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    Thomas KeverDec 2, 2023 at 10:03 am

    It helps tons if you ask Jesus who to date, obey God about chastity and let God show you who to marry. Then both of you walk with God throughout your marriage. Of course you need to be a committed Christian to do this. I am a 1965 grad of KSU and met my future wife in old Kent Hall. We followed the above suggestions and have been happy for 57 years.