Divorce rates are on the decline, thanks to millennials

Published: Oct. 18, 2018 at 6:04 PM EDT
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Scrolling through social media platforms, it's become increasingly common to hear of millennials "ruining" things.

Everything from home ownership, to the 40-hour work week, even department stores.

The latest thing millennials are "ruining"? Divorce.

A University of Maryland study shows between 2008 and 2016, divorce rates dropped 18 percent. That's because millennials are staying together.

"It's about probably cultural and societal shifts," said Lisa Schurbing, a licensed marriage and family therapist at Prevea Health.

Experts say that's likely because millennials are getting married older than earlier generations did.

"We change as we get older, and so I think the decisions that we make when we're older are probably different than the ones we would have made when we were younger," Schurbing said.

Another factor: Many modern couples put careers before their relationships, but still may not be as financially stable as their parents were at their age.

"I think there's a reason that couples live together now, because the cost of living is high," Schurbing explained. "And I don't know that income has caught up to that."

So, Gray-TV affiliate WBAY reached out to millennial couples to see what they're doing right.

Alyssa and Mark Becker have been married for two years. The 31-year-olds share their one-year-old son, Ben.

Mark also has another son from his first marriage, 5-year-old Charlie. His first marriage ended in divorce after about 5 years.

"You don't know who you are when you're 22, 23 years old," Mark said. "You have to figure out who you are, and you have to figure out how to love and respect yourself before you give yourself to someone else."

Mark doesn't advise getting married so young, as he did the first time.

Both he and Alyssa say waiting to get married, and living together beforehand, helped form a strong relationship.

"The person I would have picked at 20, 21, definitely probably would not be the person I would see myself with in the long run," Alyssa explained.

For Jake and Trudye Milheiser, marriage was almost always in the works.

"I was ready within six months of dating. I think I had wedding fever," 29-year-old Trudye joked.

She and 35-year-old Jake waited for six years before tying the knot.

Jake proposed after Trudye's mom fell ill with cancer.

"It took that. You know, life is too short. And I think he finally realized it, we both realized it, that we need to be together. Get married and really make it real," Trudye said.

The couple credits the foundation of the relationship on the friendship they formed before they started dating and by living together before they got married. Jake also took on the role of father to Trudye's now 10-year-old daughter, Naomie.

"He irritates me. But at the end of the day, I truly do love this person. And it was never a bad decision," Trudye said.

"Just not quitting. You keep going. Some people just throw in the towel after a couple bad fights, but it's not worth it," Jake explained.

In the end, both couples say that marriage is not a picnic, but it's worth it if you find the right person.

"It's work. It's not pretty every single day. And that's the best part of it," Trudye said.

"Don't settle," Mark suggested. "It will pay to wait. Because that right person, man, they're worth it."