Millennials shaking up traditional order of love, marriage then kids

TORONTO — First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage. At least that’s how it used to go. Nowadays, life’s milestones — which also include graduating and buying a home — aren’t always bound by that order.

Thirty-year-old high school sweethearts Ashley Kohut and her partner Shawn Demaio recently got engaged after 11 years together. They chose to first buy a house, which they did at 22. Then they had two kids, who are now one and five.

“For us, it was more, ‘let’s do what feels right for us to do, not what society expects us to do’,” said Kohut, adding that weddings cost a lot of money. She estimates $30,000 to $40,000.

“Financially speaking, if we had gotten married [sooner], we would’ve started our relationship in debt. We wouldn’t be able to do the things we do and provide our kids with what we provide them.”

Still, she admits there has been a lot of pressure to marry from both family and friends, who “have gone the traditional route with the ‘proper’ sequence.” At the end of the day, though, it doesn’t matter.

Kohut’s case is far from an anomaly. Cultural anthropologist Johanna Faigelman has studied millennials (aka Generation Y or those born between 1981 to 1997) extensively as the founder of Human Branding Inc., a Toronto-based market research and consulting firm. She believes there’s been a very clear shift in the order that this age group is going through life’s “rites of passage.”

“They’re becoming adults in a very different way than their parents did,” Faigelman explained. “They’re taking the attitude of, ‘you know what, our realities are different, the old rules of the previous generations don’t apply to us. We’re actually going to redefine the order that we do things in.'”

A TD survey released this month would back that observation up. It found that more than 50 per cent of millennials have completed or are on track to complete their life’s milestones in a different order than they originally expected.

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