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  • Ennie Fakoya.

For Better, or For Worse? Gen Z are Rewriting The Rules of Marriage.

Updated: Nov 20, 2023

Young Black people will not choose marriage out of necessity like the generations before them.



All images were sourced on Pinterest. Nightstand Service does not claim any ownership.

“I still have a pretty idealistic view of marriage. Not necessarily a ‘happily ever after’. Just being with someone, having a partner for as long as forever might be. But even then, my fear of commitment hinders that. Humans are created for community, and whoever you marry becomes a part of that.”

There are too many factors pertaining to marriage that can’t be ignored. Finances, family, kids, unresolved trauma, attachment styles, the works. And in the case of an increasingly individualistic society, some would ask, “Is marriage even worth it?”


For a lot of people, it’s not. To a younger generation of people that have grown up witnessing a slew of economic crises, the cost of marriage isn’t worth the hassle. To them, the main difference between a married and unmarried couple is a certificate. From 1996 to 2021, the total number of cohabiting couples increased from around 1.5 million to around 3.6 million - an increase of 144%.

Yet contrastingly, an article on The Knot stated that, “Among Gen Z respondents, 81% are open to the possibility of getting married, with one in two saying they "definitely" see it happening.”

Marriage is still a considerable option, but the conversation surrounding it is no longer behind a gendered veil. Money is an open conversation, and Stay-At-Home parenting goes both ways. The ‘possibility’ of what benefit marriage brings is subject to the security of a relationship, Some may disagree, but at the end of the day, getting married can no longer just be a question of ‘when’, but ‘why’. It could be financial stability, tax benefits, or even something un-materialistic, like love.


But if we’re being real, love isn’t enough to carry two people to the end of their days - it’s an understandable development.

‘Love’ can be many different things, and until recently, women in abusive relationships with men that were publicly adored was considered love. Gen Z are so hyper aware of themselves and others around them, with instances like ‘lovebombing’ and ‘gaslighting’ being spoken about regularly. Despite the fact that these terms are used a little too loosely, they still happen, which makes the process of even dating a rigorous affair.


“How does marriage seem to you as a black woman?”

My sister laughs. “Like bondage,” she says, light in her tone.

“I’m just kidding,” she continues, “Now, black women have more choice. Black, White, Asian, whatever. It’s all down to who sees your value, and going where you’re wanted.”

A conversation that is raised time and time again is one where black women are involved. The idea of veering off a traditional path laid by our black parents and grandparents, where the end goal is always marriage. Before us, most of our ancestors married to survive. Some married for love. Others ventured into being separated in their own homes. Young black people, however, are less inclined to marry out of necessity. Women no longer need men to create a family, and men can no longer swear to being sole providers.


Traditional rules surrounding marriage also don’t cater to LGBTQ+ people. It’s not a secret that a good majority of black young adults are coming out in their twenties, and with the beginning a new identity means that they get to create their own traditions. The idea is to start how you plan to finish, and the process of planning your future with another person in it can be daunting. Comparing one wedding to another, watching TikToks of people’s horror divorce stories is enough to scare anyone away, but in the very thin lining are young adults desiring their dream wedding.


Marriage used to be a necessity. To reap certain benefits and legal rights, a certificate of marriage was necessary, especially for women. Even without the legality of it all, marriage is a symbolic milestone. Despite the individuality of people’s unique experiences, your wedding will be compared to someone else’s on instagram.


With both of these established by the generations before, Gen Z is reshaping how they get married, and why. A lot of those ‘why’s’ now belong to people that just don’t see a point in marriage. Cohabitation has risen since 1996, and the economy doesn’t allow for most people to consider a wedding and future family finances in the middle of a low paying job.


Those that do see a point are finding ways to make marriage work for them. It’s not enough to walk down an aisle and say incredibly inappropriate vows in front of your friends and family. For a lot of traditionally African and Asian weddings, you marry into your partner's family.

Excusing the bigger issues that come to light for the sake of manufacturing peace doesn’t work anymore. Gen Z already find no issue with leaving a job they consider toxic, so it’s not a surprise that the same goes for a life changing decision like marriage.




Are you passionate about exploring the intricate worlds of beauty, sex, wellness and culture ? Do you belong to a marginalised community and have unique perspectives and stories to share? If so, Nightstand Service is eagerly seeking contributing writers like you! Get in touch: info@nightstandservice.com

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