By Janelle Buniel
CAROLINA REPORTER & NEWS
University of South Carolina graduate students Elizabeth Rogers and Nick Doyle have been dating for six years, and people are already asking, “Why don’t you just get married?”
For many of their generation, it’s not that simple.
Recent polls have suggested that fewer members of the millennial generation - those born after 1980 who came of age at the turn of the new century - are getting married compared to Generation X, the generation that precedes them. A Gallup poll showed that 59 percent of millennials are single and have never married, as opposed to 16 percent of Generation X.
Previous polls found this to be true, even when looking at marriage trends for those who were at the same age of millennials now.
This trend of millennials marrying later – or not at all – stems from various reasons:
Jennifer Augustine, a USC sociology assistant professor, said another contributing factor is the evolution of what marriage actually means.
“Marriage used to be a launching-off point into adulthood… Now we see marriage as sort of a capstone in our lives – something we do once we’ve accomplished the other things we set out to do in our lives," Augustine said.
Rogers, the graduate student, doesn't believe marriage will hold her back from living independently and to the fullest. “We didn’t feel like we were missing out on that time of independence, because we are still independent while we are together," she said.
They did agree to delay their marriage until after they both finished their undergraduate degrees. Doyle believed he should at least be financially stable and in a responsible place in his life before he could get married.
Augustine points out that that threshold is one many think they should reach, which is why people with lower levels of education and income are the ones who are really driving this trend.
"They have difficulty achieving economic independence, 'getting their house in order,' saving for a wedding – doing all the types of things we as a society deem to be important before ultimately transitioning into marriage," Augustine said.
Ultimately, marriage was always the goal for Rogers and Doyle.
“I always knew I would never date someone unless I could see the potential of marrying them, because I knew that’s where I wanted to be someday. It would either end in you breaking up or you get married,” Rogers said. “I knew that there was nowhere else I would rather be, no one else I would rather be with for the rest of my life.”
Doyle added, “I can’t really tell you when I knew it, but I knew that she was who I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.”
And “the rest of their lives” began at the fountain behind the South Caroliniana Library.
Before she started her workday, Doyle persuaded Rogers to stop by the Horseshoe on the USC campus near his job. Rogers doesn’t even remember Doyle kneeling down or asking the question.
“I was just so happy," she said. In fact, before she said yes, she blurted out, “I have to get to work now!”
Of course, she did eventually say yes.
Many millennials are putting off marriage because marriage involves compromise and sacrifice, according to Augustine, and not everybody wants to do that. However, Rogers said she can’t wait to take on life with her soon-to-be husband.
“I’m with someone who I’ve been able to get through challenges and difficulties with, and who we’ve learned how to compromise and work together as a team and a unit," she said, "and I think that encountering a whole new set of those challenges is a very exciting thing, because we get to do it together."
Rogers and Doyle have begun planning their wedding and have their date set for October 13, 2018.