Jasmine Mehta is 22 years old and she’s not thinking about marriage. She’s thinking of everything but marriage.
Mehta, a 22-year-old sociology student at Brock University in St. Catharines, doesn’t even factor getting married into her five-year plan. She wants to make progress in other areas of her life first — whether that’s landing a big promotion, signing the papers for a house or picking up the keys for a brand new car.
Maybe she’ll think of marriage one day. But not necessarily.
“I feel like today it’s more of a partnership and a commitment than an agreement or contract,” Mehta said in an interview.
Many people her age feel the same way. A poll on marriage conducted by the Angus Reid Institute in Canada last year found more than half of the 1,520 respondents felt “marriage is simply not necessary.”
Ian Holliday, a research associate who worked on the survey, says the results reflect a generational shift. It takes millennials longer to lock down secure incomes and housing than it took their parents. Marriage is getting put on hold until they feel comfortable in their lives — especially financially.
“The order of operations traditionally is go to school get a job, get to a place where you have financial success and then get married and start a family,” he said in an interview.
“What we see today is millennials feeling as though that’s not where they are at yet or if they have to follow the same pattern. It’s taking them much longer to get to the place where they would get married, have kids or buy a house.”
Watch young Canadians discuss their thoughts on marriage:
Those practicalities certainly play into Mehta’s thinking.
“The economy has vastly changed, so when you’re raising a family there’s no quicker way to live a comfortable life where you’re able to give your children everything you want and for yourself to be able to live a comfortable life,” said Mehta.
There are also a lot of other financial obligations that a lot of millennials have to take care of before thinking of marriage.
“School is a factor, my boyfriend is at school for another year plus student loans in general so it’s a financial burden that we want to get past,” said Michelle Nemeth, a 24 year old working in events and marketing.
And getting married simply isn’t a priority for many people these days. Recent data released by Statistics Canada from the 2016 census found common-law unions are becoming more frequent throughout the country. More than one in five couples (21.3 per cent) are now common law — more than three times as many couples who were common law in 1981 (6.3 per cent).
“It’s more of an option to get married in this generation,” said Kat Zevallos, a 22 year-old student at Wilfrid Laurier University. “And marriage doesn’t necessarily define one’s happiness or future.”