Marriage Trends for the 2020s

Many people like to believe that something such as marriage is stable, it’s an unmovable institution. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Just look at how the idea of same sex marriage in the United States morphed from the total fringes to something that’s legally accepted across the entire country. Looking ahead to the next decade though, there are bound to be more changes in store. Here’s a look at some of the biggest potential marriage trends for the 2020s.

Divorce and marriage rates in the U.S. have both been decreasing, and that’s a trend you can only expect to continue. From 2000 to 2016, the marriage rate dropped from 8.2 to 6.9 per 1,000 people, with divorces dropping from 4.0 to 3.2. Expect similar sized drops in the years ahead, as people continue to be less likely to marry early due to issues such as pursuing personal education and career paths, combating debt levels and financial insecurities, and more.

Couples will get married later, and potentially be more confident they made the right choice, and did so at a more mature and stable time in their lives. And on the flip side, more people will continue to get divorced at later times in their lives, as prioritizing personal happiness and fulfillment is something that more individuals are considering even after the kids move out or they retire. The idea is called gray divorce, and while divorce rates are dropping, gray divorces have doubled in the past several decades.

For couples who do get divorced, one of the increasingly prevalent trends that is only going to increase is the handling of man’s-or woman’s-best friend in the resulting legal challenge. Three states have already enacted legislation that deals with the prospect of a pet’s wellbeing during a divorce, as opposed to treating the animal purely as property to be divided.

Another trend that’s going to be playing out more and more on the divorce battlefield will be cryptocurrency. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are already starting to show up in divorce fights for several reasons, including the difficulty or impossibility of tracking down or proving the financial assets that one person may be storing in that medium, as well as the rapidly fluctuating values those assets may represent. As cryptocurrencies become more mainstream still, they’re going to become an even larger issue to contend with.

Technology should be a great thing for marriage, and in many ways it is. Consider the ability to have video chats with a spouse while one person is away, and the ability to synch calendars to easily be kept in the loop with a person’s schedule. Yet, at the same time, technology often gets in the way of relationships, whether as a distraction preventing quality time or the risks and allures of everything from social media to dating apps. Tech is going to become and more integrated into our lives than it already is, and its impact will continue to be felt on both sides of the spectrum.

The idea of marriage or divorce might not be going anywhere, but the ways these seemingly stable institutions evolve and change is more rapid and more impactful than many would realize at first glance.