Young professionals discuss marriage and where it falls as a priority in their life

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FLINT (WJRT) (2/13/2018) - Gone may be the days when young people believe that marriage is a priority for becoming an adult and living a self-fulfilled life.

Jia Ireland is a young professional who has invested a lot into her education and career.

“For a lot of us, we are looking at things differently and we don't have to do everything traditionally,” she said.

More than 150 years after British physician William Farr declared marriage a healthy estate and that married people were better off than their single counter parts, a new generation is challenging this idea.

“I'm not opposed to getting married,” said 26-year-old Katie Poniatowski, who works as a television production assistant.

She wants to be completely sure that she’s found the right person before taking a leap into marriage.

“If that takes time or if it doesn't happen that doesn't seem like a huge disappointment to me,” Poniatowski said.

For the first time in history there are more people not married than ever before. In 2017 the U.S. Census Bureau reported more than 110 million Americans were divorced, widowed or never married. That's nearly half of all people aged 18 and older.

“This generation is about career about education about being empowered hashtag me too, it's a whole different place than where we were generations ago,” said psychotherapist Kathy Barton-Brown.

Cameron Haskins, 24, was a part of a discussion group of five young professionals under the age of 30. He was the only married person in the group.

When asked if marriage was what he hoped it would be he said he hadn’t hoped it would be anything other than what it would be.

“What I have found it to be is a great partnership and team,” Haskins said.

The two ladies of the group said it wasn’t much of a priority at all. Ireland even called it nothing more than a legal contract.

“You get to have your taxes together, you get tax benefits and whatnot from being married and there are legal protections. But, you can pretty much have the same relationship with someone without a legal binding contract,” she said.

Poniatowski pointed out younger generations gather more baggage before they reach the traditional marriage age, which makes it even more difficult.

“You think 30 years ago when my parents were getting married they were both graduated from college, had very little debt, they were ready to buy a house together," she said. "So they had all these things already in place that a lot of people in our generation are still working on.”

Entrepreneur Alvin Brown Jr., 25, stressed the seriousness of the commitment.

“Marriage is definitely a sacred ground. It's not something to be played with or trifled with,” he said.

Darell Brown is a 26-year-old production studio owner and strongly believes in the institution of marriage.

“My mom and my dad they are still married. They got all of their kids together. I got 12 siblings. It’s just a beautiful big family," Brown said. "I see how happy they are together. They show the good and bad. I learn from them and I feel like it's something that I can do.”

Barton-Brown said society has empowered the Millennial Generation to be more self-centered.

“They watched us deal with hard relationships, they watched us deal in hard places," she said. "Their conclusion when they came away is, 'I'm going to pursue my education, I'm going to pursue my career and I'm going to find a place in life where I am content with me and me alone.'”

The group said, more than anything else, personal happiness is most important to them. Barton-Brown says happiness equals contentment.

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