Depending on the year of birth, Americans fall into one of six living generations, each marked by an historic world or national event, and each has its own definition of the all-American family. In fact, one of the fundamental differences among the generations is how they view marriage and divorce.
If you were born between:
1901–1926, you are from the GI Generation. Also known as the “Greatest Generation,” you survived two world wars and the Great Depression. Moral decisions were easy—there was right (e.g., marriage) and wrong (e.g., divorce) —and few deviated from them.
1927–1945, then you are one of the Mature Silents. Your generation witnessed men making lifetime careers with one employer while their wives stayed home and raised the kids. Happy or not, families stayed intact.
1946–1964, you are a baby boomer (aka the “Me Generation”) who embraced television, rock and roll, free love, and credit cards. Yours was the first generation to acknowledge divorce as a broadly acceptable course of action. In fact, Baby Boomers continue to divorce more than any other generation: the divorce rate for 55- to 64-year-olds more than doubled from 1990 to 2012, while divorces of the over-65 crowd tripled.
1965–1980, you are part of Generation X. Your peers were latchkey kids whose often-divorced parents both worked outside the home. But while your parents’ generation was big on divorce, yours is not. About 70 percent of marriages that began in the 1990s reached their 15th anniversary, up from fewer than 65 percent of those that began in the 1970s and 1980s.
1981–2000, you are a millennial. More formally known as Generation Y (although fewer and fewer people are using that term), you were overindulged by your parents and now are criticized as “entitled.” Your marriage rates are the lowest among generations: only 26 percent of you are married. When they were your age, 36 percent of Generation Xers, 48 percent of Baby Boomers, and 65 percent of the Silents were married.
2001- ??, you are Generation Z, aka the “Boomlets.” You’ve never experienced a world without computers or cell phones and prefer technological gadgets to toys. Will you continue the late- or never- to-marry trend, or will you utilize your electronics obsession to improve your odds at marital success? Only time will tell.