Relationship and Lifestyle

5 Ways the Institution of Marriage is Changing

3 Mins read


Marrying young, cheating, weight gain, and lack of communication are some of the leading causes of divorce in the United States. Yes, weight gain.

The divorce rate remains high, but it is no longer logging back-to-back record highs like it was from the 70s up to the 90s. The divorce rate has been hovering around 40% in the U.S for a decade. This is less than the 50% of urban myth, but still a much higher rate than it was when our grandfathers were in college.

As the children of divorce have grown up and become fully fledged millennial lovers, the concept of marriage has grown up as well. Marriage in America today is more strategic than ever.

Read on for 5 ways this manifests itself.

1. Divorce Rate is Dropping

Because they were young during the period of most divorces in American history, Millennials tend to fear divorce. It might be more normal today than it was in the 80s, but divorce is still undesirable for the starry-eyed fiancé.

Luckily, young generations are strategic about whom they marry and how they do it. The generation that has grown up with access to Google is very well-informed. This is a bit of a digression, but the phenomenon where younger generations consistently test higher on intelligence tests than older generations actually has a name. It is called the Flynn Effect.

Anyway, one of the main reasons Millennials get divorced less is because they marry late. The median age of marriage is 30 for men and 28 for women—up from 27 and 25 in 2003.

2. Polyamory

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith are in a three-person relationship involving Will’s ex-wife—whom Jada had been friends with for 6 years before they became intimate. These three-person relationships are referred to as “throuples.”

Polyamory is complicated. This possible solution to those imposing memories of divorced parents yelling names at each other over the phone should not be taken lightly. It is, nevertheless, a lifestyle on the rise.

What does it take to navigate the complex emotional web of polyamory? Is it just an excuse for indecisiveness? Janet Hardy, author of The Ethical Slut, says that to make it work you need three elements: open mindedness, self-awareness, and honesty with yourself and your partners.

3. Marriage Marathons

Why do we automatically subscribe to the church’s biblical idea of love? The idea of till death do us part is annulled in this new kind of marriage. Marriage marathons stem from the traditional Celtic practice of matrimony for a limited amount of time.

This alternative to traditional marriage generally spans about fifteen years. It can end in divorce before the agreed-upon time.

The benefit of this kind of marriage is that expectations seem to be easier for the commitment averse younger gens. Managing expectations is key to wellbeing. This is due to a phenomenon that in positive psychology is sometimes referred to as Happiness = Reality/Expectations.

4. Love Languages

Today’s marriages are often between very educated and prepared 30-something year-olds. This means that couples are often wise to the vocabulary of the internet. One example of this vocabulary is the five love languages. says that whether a couple is always fighting or a cool frost has developed between them, couples need to learn skills to manage their fears and anxiety around communication.

One way to do this is to understand your partners love language as well as your own.

Partners today can be more effective communicators using resources like this one. If books don’t work, there is also a growing number of couples willing to attend a couples workshop in certain cities such as San Francisco, Boulder, and Austin.

The 5 love languages are:

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Physical Touch
  • Quality Time
  • Gift Giving and Receiving
  • and Acts of Service

5. Love is Love

The 2010s saw the rise of many powerful social movements, and don’t let the use of hashtags cheapen them! #MeToo, #BlackLivesMatter, and #LoveisLove have all impacted society. Love is love is a popular saying among the LGBTQ community that proclaims that no love is any more “correct” than another simply because of established social norms and subjective standards.

This movement is not exclusive to LGBTQ relationships, it also reflects changing opinions on interracial marriage and alternative styles of commitment like polyamory and marriage marathons.


There is a lot of acceptance for alternative lifestyles in modern America and across the globe. The capabilities of technology has already exploded into a million different niches and realms, now it is only a matter of time before our culture does the same.

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