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Millennials’ latest mistake: embracing the ‘starter marriage’


There’s something going on with marriage in America. At a time when it’s available to so many, it appears to be taken seriously by so few.

Take Marnie Michaels, the willowy, statuesque musician played by Allison Williams in HBO’s hip series, “Girls.” As devoted viewers who watched Sunday’s episode are aware, Michaels has gone from single and dating to married, cheating and demanding a divorce in less than one season, treating marriage like it’s an exotic semester abroad.

Michaels isn’t the first “Girls” girl to try a marriage on for size. Back in Season 1, boozy, free-spirited Jessa Johansson met, married and divorced a rich — yet square — venture capitalist in less than a year. Three seasons later, Johansson is (finally) sober and “recycle dating” the ex of one of her best friends.

These women’s stories would probably be entertaining if they weren’t so downright depressing. For whether they call it a “starter” marriage, “beta” marriage or “test” marriage, the 25- to 35-year-old generation has a far more elastic definition of the concept of “forever.”

How elastic? A recent study found that 43 percent of millennials supported a form of marriage that allowed couples to easily split up after two years, while a full third were open to “marriage licenses” valid — like mortgages — for set periods of time. It’s an impressive figure, especially when you consider just a third of respondents still believe that marriage is “till death do us part.”

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Additional reading: The Beta Marriage: How Millennials Approach ‘I Do’

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