Some years of your life, everyone you know will get married. That can be how it feels, anyway, and with travel, lodging, days off work, outfits, and all the other attendant costs, attending just one wedding can add up fast. But the bad economy might actually catch you a break: Marriage rates among millennials are way down from previous decades.
A new study takes a closer look at why we're holding off on "I do" so much, and student debt is a not-insignificant part of that. One of the oldest reasons people combine households is to consolidate wealth; that extends to contemporary roommate situations, since it's almost always more expensive to live alone. Couples or partners often cohabitate so they can save on costs and build a nest egg, including for funding a wedding.
Given the state and scope of American student debt, it's no surprise that young people are putting off marriage when it's so hard to afford. That's not the only barrier to financial freedom for couples, whether they're married or not. These days, it's men who are marrying up financially more and more. Money stress can cause rifts in any relationship, and while cohabiting couples tend to move in together when their salaries are roughly equal, one partner may end up specializing in household finances to the other's detriment.
Of course, this isn't affecting all millennials equally: According to lead author Fenaba Addo of the University of Wisconsin, "Rising student debt is reshaping relationship formation among college-going youth, and as cohabitation has become more widespread, social and economic disparities in who marries without cohabiting first have increased." In short, there's nothing wrong with asking for help if all of this gets too overwhelming. The problem is most certainly not yours alone.