Whether it’s the signing of their marriage license weeks before the wedding, diving into “friendship weddings” or discussing prenups like they’re just everyday water cooler banter, there are some millennial marriage trends that boomers just can’t wrap their heads around. And while the generational gap between millennials and boomers can sometimes feel as wide as the Grand Canyon, Michaiah Dominguez, mental health counselor and relationship coach, reminds us that for as many ways as these two populations are different, they also have a bunch in common. Here, the two ways millennials and boomers are absolutely different when it comes to marriage—and the two ways they’re surprisingly similar.
2 ways millennial and boomer marriages couldn’t be more different
1. Millennials self-actualize before saying “I do”
The wellness movement of self-care that we know today was shepherded in by millennials. Yes, there was the Human Potential Movement that took suburbia by storm in the ‘70s and ‘80s (think: Est), but changing social constructs have really allowed for millennials to put more emphasis on their own academic journey, career, financial achievements and other advancements, explains Dominguez. This means, in addition to getting married a bit older, millennials forge their identity—or important aspects of it—before making that commitment to a partner. “With this secured identity, millennials are entering into marriage with much more confidence that they have found someone who aligns with their future goals and core values,” says Dominguez.
2. While boomers tended to “grow up” in a unit
Boomers, on average, got married younger, which allowed them time to grow together. Per Dominguez: “They experienced many firsts together—having a baby, buying a car, a home, etc. And novelty—doing something new together—is one surefire way to strengthen a marriage and keep it fresh.” On the flip side, this early interdependence could lead spouses to grow distant over time as they individuate and redefine who they are. “I would guess that this is why boomers are the generation who pushed for divorce based on irreconcilable differences,” contemplates Dominguez.
The 1 surprising thing millennial and boomer marriages have in common
While boomers destigmatized divorce, but both generations get married to stay married
“Each generation approaches marriage with seriousness and with the expectation of ‘till death do us part,’” says Dominguez. In fact, dating app Bumble tells us that just looking at the profile badges, both boomers and millennials in the U.S. are looking for something serious: Of those who have adopted the Dating Intentions Badge on Bumble Date, a majority (57 percent) of baby boomers are looking for a relationship compared to 40 percent of millennials. And surprisingly, the percentage of those who are looking for marriage are similar for both generations.