We were recently asked by the podcast duo from Sextras podcast and digital magazine to comment on GenZ and marriage. Sextras is a growing podcast focussed in the Gen Z world of sex, relationships, and wellness, from the personal to the cultural. Check out the full article HERE.
From your experience, what specific behaviors or trends have you noticed in Gen Z's approach to relationships and marriage that differentiate them from other generations?
When it comes to Gen Z relationships, we tend to see that couples are looking for partners to enjoy their lives with rather than traditional relationship dynamics. Rather than seeking someone to fulfill a more traditional role i.e. working spouse and non-working spouse or stay at home parent, Gen Z couples seem to be more focussed on finding someone that they can share hobbies and adventures with. They don't feel the need to get married and may not even see a relationship as for life. Instead, it may be more for how long it is best for both people in the relationship. Many couples are choosing not to get married or to get married later in life, resulting in a lowering of the divorce rate across the United States.
You mentioned that Gen Z is particularly thoughtful about marriage and relationships. In what ways have you seen this thoughtfulness manifest, especially in comparison to previous generations?
In our office, we tend to see other generations focus more on traditional roles. We tend to see trends of:
We "need" not "want" to find a partner to share our lives with.
We have to be married before we have children.
One parent is more likely to stay at home and give up their careers.
Couples tend to fall into more traditional, heteronormative roles.
Couples see the wedding as the monumental moment, rather than the relationship that follows.
Gen Z, on the other hand, tend to see relationships as the relationship itself, not an event or a checkbox. We have seen microweddings and elopement increase drastically as Gen Z reaches marriage age. They aren't wasting money on the event, but instead focussing on the relationship itself. Gen Z are also much more thoughtful about the realities of marriage. They are either choosing not to get married, avoiding a "legal process" in their relationship, or getting prenups - being realistic that all relationships don't last and they want to protect themselves and one another.
You noted that if Gen Z chooses to get married, they tend to elope and are more considerate about the possibility of divorce by getting prenups. Can you elaborate on the factors that lead them to choose elopement and consider prenuptial agreements more than other generations?
First, we see they are more aware of their finances. They are creating their own careers and going after their own ambitions. It was common in past generations for at least one spouse to give up their careers or ambitions for the family unit. In this instance, Gen Z want to continue to protect themselves and their careers. This includes not wasting money on a wedding and protecting themselves with a prenup.
Second, they are more realistic about marriage broadly. The current divorce rate is about 45% but the highest rate of divorce is gray divorce, those in the age range of retirement. This is the age range of Gen Z's parents. Gen Z seems to have seen the high divorce rate of the past (typically closer to 50 - 55%) and don't want to repeat their parents or family members mistakes. Why get married if you have seen it fail so frequently?
Based on your expertise, what advice would you give to Gen Z couples who are navigating relationships, considering marriage, or contemplating alternatives like cohabitation?
1) For any couple, we recommend having open conversations about finances with your partner. Money can be uncomfortable to talk about, but it is one of the biggest reasons for divorce. Are you a saver or spender? Do you have debt? Savings? What are your careers goals and financial goals?
2) Get help having conversations. We can't know everything and so it's important to ask for help. You go to an expert so you can know what you don't know.
3) Keep lines of communication open and don't be afraid to have difficult conversations. Difficult conversations are what shape a relationship. They allow you to grow as a couple and reach your goals together. Communication is key to any relationships success, but we tend to sway away from things that may cause conflict. That is a normal human instinct, but it prevents us from growing or creating successful dynamics in our relationships - not only romantically but across any relationship in our lives.