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Why Millennials Aren't Marrying (Even Within the Church)

Why Millennials Aren’t Marrying (Even Within the Church)

I recently had the opportunity to attend an LDS Influencers Conference. Designed to help members of the Church with influence on the online community, numerous topics are discussed, from statistical data on recent Church campaigns to how we can better share goodness through social media.

Out of everything that was shared, one statistic about marriage left a lasting impression.

“Millennials are playing it safe,” the presenter said. According to the information they had gathered through surveys, millennials weren’t necessarily eschewing conventional marriage because it was old-fashioned or they were more focused on careers and money. Quite the contrary. Many millennials listed marriage as an important priority and goal. The problem? They’re scared.

We’re scared.

But it’s not just the typical “afraid of commitment” argument. Millennials commit to plenty, from a tough job market to decades of student debt. We’re willing to commit. We just don’t want to commit to the wrong thing.

We want to be madly in love. We dream of the total package. We long to marry with complete assurance that we’re making the right choice. We want to reduce the risk of watching our marriages fail, a scene most of us have likely seen all too often. We scrutinize every possible choice until there seems to be no choices left. We want to be sure.

As noted above, this is compounded by the fact that most millennials also face a higher probability of having past negative experiences with marriage. I did a little personal experiment and gave myself a minute to see how many people I knew had gotten a divorce. I was able to name nine couples, half of which were from my own peer group. While I would never judge a person who has gotten a divorce or the reasons behind it, the fact remains: many millennials have grown up with divorce as a fact of life.

Combined with the advent of social media and texting, pressure from all sides, and a righteous desire to find the right person and start a happy marriage, it’s no wonder millennials feel the need to play it safe. Who we marry is one of the most important decisions we will ever make; we need to place great weight on the choice and choose carefully. But when we swing to the extreme, paralyzing ourselves in an effort to stay emotionally safe, we are likely missing the opportunities we are so desperately seeking for.

So what can we do? Here are five things you can implement to jump-start your heart and help cast your fears behind you.

Work on Building Emotionally Vulnerable Relationships

Risk and vulnerability are essential to any relationship, platonic or not. We take a risk by being vulnerable with another person, sharing our secrets, our fears, our dreams. Ideally, they respond by risking as well. You develop a strong bond of honesty, which leads to emotional safety. You come to learn who will stand by you and who will walk away.

Focus on building these types of relationships with the people in your life. It will teach you how to find a spouse you can feel emotionally safe with.

Prayerfully Evaluate Your Standards

Chances are you’ve had someone in your life question your dating standards. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked, “Maybe your standards are just too high?” It’s a bothersome question, but sometimes, honestly, they are. This occurs mostly because we are looking for a finished product.

Prayerfully go to the Lord and determine what qualities are most important to you in a spouse. Don’t use the world’s standards or the three-page list you made as a teenager. You want a spouse who sees your eternal potential and will help you get there. Give the people you date the same courtesy.

The Lord’s Method

Remember: the best way to determine what you want and who you can fall in love with is by dating. Dating is the formula given to us by the Lord. Date frequently and date many different types of people. Don’t put unnecessary pressure on a first date. Don’t wait to ask someone out until you’re sure they’ll say yes. Boys ask girls, girls say yes. Girls ask boys, boys say yes. Let’s show the world we can be adults and just spend time together without the angsty subtext and pressure.

Dating can be the complete opposite of the play-it-safe attitude millennials favor. Jump in. See what happens.

RELATED: 10 LDS Quotes That Show the Lord Wants Us to Date

Study Good Examples

It can be hard to believe in the possibility of marriage when you’ve had negative, even tragic experiences. Follow the counsel of Church leaders by diligently seeking good examples in your life. From your close married friends to the marriages of General Authorities, learn what they do that you want to implement in the future. Let their righteous examples strengthen your faith. Study the doctrine of marriage and understand the Lord’s plan for your life.

Seek to Make Yourself Whole

When looking for a spouse, many people seek with an attitude of dependence. You see yourself as a half, and you are looking for another half to make you whole. Others are too independent, taking their one and never truly adding it to another. These are dangerous paths. Seek to make yourself whole through Christ and by living a fulfilling life. Then, as you seek another whole person, the equation won’t equal one or two. It will equal three. You take two whole people and create something new entirely.

No matter what happens in your dating life, never stop the process of progression.

 

While not every millennial will experience these things or find them relatable, it is important for us all to have hope in the eternal perspective of the gospel of Jesus Christ. No matter what you do or what relationships you build, there is no more important relationship than yours with the Savior. Doing so is the best dating advice that exists.

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About Aleah Ingram

Aleah Ingram
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a social media manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and is addicted to organic milk, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.

11 comments

  1. I’m not so sure that dating is “The Lord’s Method.” Sure, it’s a method that’s been accepted by our society and is encouraged by our leaders, but I don’t think there’s any basis for calling it the Lord’s method. I think arranged marriages would be equally accepted by the Lord. Both methods can and have fostered eternal marriage.

    If you have any evidence that backs up your claim, I would like to see it. Thanks for the article!

    • I’m not sure if Jess enjoyed the article or not, but I know I instinctively respond with the one thing I disagreed with among an otherwise great post. I agree that dating is a societal norm (and in the arena of dating “frequently” and “many different types of people”, one I’m rather uncomfortable with) and not necessarily a God-given method for finding companionship.

      That being said, these were great insights. I liked your observation of the general lack of fear-of-commitment among Millennials. I honestly had never viewed it in that light.

      I also appreciated the concept of focusing on becoming whole yourself. I’ve heard it placed in the hierarchy of dependence < independence < interdependence. When we are confident in our own identity, and humble, we are able to combine ourselves with Christ and with others to create a network of strength. We become interdependent, filling the gaps in our own lives and the lives of others, and able to accomplish far more than any independent person ever could (e.g. 1+1=3)

      Thank you for sharing.

  2. I think another glaring reason for so many singles, is the male to female ratio of active single adult members. I have moved all over the country and there are always LOADS more women than men. It would seem that worldly temptations tend to lure more men away from the church during adulthood. This means that the remaining men can be as picky as they’d like (they have a large female population to choose from, so they can be as shallow about age and appearance as they’d like and still find a wonderful, suitable match.) This also means that many wonderful often slightly older women who do not meet or exceed societal norms of beauty etc. get repeatedly passed over. Since men tend to marry within a year or two after their mission, and guys tend to date younger than themeselves, many great women age out.

    • Your probably right in many ways Belle Basnight But i personally feel im in competion with the other guys so that i can be a womans ideal fit But sometimes i feel i dont make most of the women out there checklist i know i have everything to offer but there seems to be more often many women that tend to come up with errors regardless or assume most of the time because they look on my outer apearance and then make a list of assumetions on how they think i am before caring to getting to really know me Outer appearances mean more than physical attraction What i mean is many LDS women at least may percieve a guys personality is different than what it really is or just because a person isnt always acting proper to their standands at an activity than their a loser to put it bluntly or something to that effect

  3. I feel like the article started out really good identifying the issues causing millenials to put off marriage

    but for some reason I feel it totally forgets to address those issues specificially and goes off on a generic advice tangent thats been churned out for years now

    We are focusing on careers and money becuase in order to have families you MUST provide for one, and right now Millenials are so broke we can hardly take care of ourselves let alone a spouse… or heaven forbid children.

    We are scared, and we are logically sound minded enough not to take risks that could hurt a potential family if it can be prevented. For the most part we have Taken president hinckleys council to heart “If ye are prepared then ye shall not fear.

  4. I agree with Luke. The article started out really good and then seemed to become a generic dating article. Unlike our parents we grew up and hit adulthood around the time of a major recession, we have recently found that a college education isn’t really a job guarantee anymore. We work hard and want to succeed but at the same time we sometimes have to work with the opportunities we’re given.

    There is a very strong culture in the church that the man provides 100% for the family. I think that’d be awesome if that were always possible but as Luke mentioned a good point that sometimes we can barely provide for ourselves let alone a family.

    It really can be tough for young adults and as Belle mentioned older single adults. I would also point out that the age thing affects men and women, we seem to ‘expire’ as valid marriage candidates after our early 20’s in the church. Not to say with shouldn’t have faith, but the concerns of millennials are real and valid ones.

  5. The idea of dating being the Lord’s method probably stems from the way that For the Strength of Youth is typically taught.
    I loved the phrasing “guys ask girls out; girls say yes. Girls ask guys out; guys say yes”. There are many women that think a guy asking her out in person or through a dating app is too bold, and perhaps they believe such a date means more than it really does, so they say no. Yet at the same time these are the girls that are continually frustrated because guys don’t make the first move.
    Another strange thing I’ve noticed in dating is the awkward influence of technology. I don’t blame technology for this, (there were plenty of awkward youth dances before the rise of technology) it is just a new addition to the dating scene that we culturally haven’t found a proper place for yet.

  6. What this article fails to mention is that porn use (estimated to be at 75% for males, according to a 2007 study and the church has come out and said they don’t anticipate it being any lower within the church) is a HUGE PROBLEM with men and a growing number of women in the LDS church. Porn users don’t feel the need to connect with people in real life because their addiction fulfills that need, in a warped unhealthy way. See the article on Fight the New Drug entitled “It’s Official: Men are choosing Porn over Getting Married.” http://www.fightthenewdrug.org/the-results-are-in-men-are-choosing-porn-over-marriage/

  7. A few thoughts –

    1. In the movie “Moscow on the Hudson”, Robin Williams plays an immigrant from the old Soviet Union. He goes to the store to buy coffee and sees dozens of different brands and types (vs. just 1 in the Soviet Union). He doesn’t know what to do and freezes. Dating sites are the same offering so many choices that people can’t make up their minds. With so many attractive dates on the web, men don’t feel a need to date the fat, old, ugly girls and the women don’t see a need to date the short, broke, boring guy. multiple choices allows both to be more picky.
    2. Women have always tried to date up…date guys that have more money than them. Women don’t like dating poor guys though guys don’t care if a woman is broke. With fewer men going to college, that’s harder and harder to do. Women don’t want to be the main bread winner, especially LDS women who often want kids and to be a stay-at-home mom. With fewer guys going to college, the women are finding fewer men and even the men that are acceptable may not want to take on her college debts so that she can stay home.
    3. Divorce is so easy and more and more acceptable, that people are too afraid to lose half of their stuff and end up paying alimony. Divorced people have a mark of failure and often have a harder time finding people to date, especially guys who may have financial obligations to an ex (alimony).
    4. Similar to #2, with more girls going on missions, they may not be willing to date guys who they deem as ‘spiritually broke” (not having gone on a mission. LDS girls are like that already, but if the girl has gone, she will have a harder time being with a guy who hasn’t.
    5. Wages haven’t kept up with the cost of living any it’s just easier to stay with mom and dad rather than move out. they want to save up to afford a house.

    I am sure there are more, but these should get more conversations started.

  8. I think looking for the perfect IN EVERYTHING…well, guess what, I doubt that the person in the mirror is perfect.

    Also, you do not have to have 200 cable channels, the new car, all new furniture, everything. You don’t. You can’t. You won’t. If you are searching for those things, you will get many of them and miss out on what this life is meant to be–a time to prepare to meet God.

  9. This is the part that I like best in the article and rings true at least for me. “Seek to make yourself whole through Christ and by living a fulfilling life. Then, as you seek another whole person, the equation won’t equal one or two. It will equal three. You take two whole people and create something new entirely.”

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