Millennials are famously putting off marriage. Indeed, a recent Pew Research report suggests that a record number — 25% — of Gen Y will remain single into their forties and fifties, or put off tying the knot altogether. But, as I’m forever obsessed with millennials bucking well-known trends, I sought out one of the few young, married couples I know.
For almost three years now, 24-year-olds Mandy and Eric have shared an apartment near Davis Square, Somerville, home to Tufts University.
They got married last June and recently adopted a cat whom they’ve named Gryffin, short for Gryffindor House from the Harry Potter series. They both stay busy, Eric as an Embedded Systems Programmer for the MITRE Corporation, and Mandy as a Ph.D student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In their spare time, they both play Ultimate Frisbee.
Here’s their take…
On why they got hitched:
“Honestly, I need dental surgery,” Mandy admits, “and Eric has good dental insurance. We decided we’d rather spend thousands on a wedding than on teeth!”
That’s not all there is, though. “I’m extremely proud of the little family we’ve created,” Mandy says, “I think Eric and I have learned to be a good team, and being with him and our kitty makes me so satisfied.”
The average cost of a wedding in the U.S. is around $25,000. Mandy and Eric’s wedding amounted to about $7,000.
How’d they do it? By hiring a beloved local restaurant, Midwest Grill, to set up a buffet; firing their DJ and creating their own playlist; and asking guests to bring desserts in lieu of a traditional wedding cake. (Learn more from Mandy’s blog post on “Offbeat Bride.”) For their honeymoon, the two escaped to Burlington, Vermont, deciding against the stress and expense of an out-of-country trip.
On whether or not they want kids:
The two do not plan to have kids. Succinct and to the point, Eric explains, “Kids are fricking expensive. Also, they poop a lot.”
“Neither of us have ever felt a strong desire to be a parent,” Mandy elaborates, “and now we look forward to using our free time and money to travel, and get lots of cats, and have a kickass retirement. And to spoil future nieces and nephews before returning them to their parents.”
On going against the grain:
“I never thought I would be married at 24,” Mandy tells me, “I wasn’t even sure I would ever get married.” She claims she never would have been ready to settle down in her mid-twenties, if it weren’t for the length of time she and Eric have known each other: Nine years.
“Even though I’m married,” Mandy says, “I still think marriage is given too much importance in our culture. Despite super high divorce rates and the dysfunctional marriages we’ve all seen in our lives, marriage is still held up as the goal for any young person, the ‘normal’ state of being once you reach a certain age.”
She continues: “All kinds of relationships and life choices are just as valid as the standard, straight, monogamous marriage, and I wish people felt freer to choose between them.”
On date nights:
Mandy and Eric say they began having weekly date nights shortly after they moved in together. “It’s easy to take a relationship for granted once you’re living together,” says Mandy, “so we wanted to make a time to check in.” Eric concurs: “We both have somewhat busy lives, so it’s good to make sure we actually eat a meal together occasionally.”
The couple’s quirky tastes send them to restaurants and entertainment venues around Somerville, Cambridge, and Boston — for instance, a Davis Square comedy show featuring “Competitive Erotic Fan Fiction,” or a Harvard Square restaurant serving French Alsatian cuisine. Mandy and Eric cite Groupon as a source for date night deals.
On where they see themselves in 10 years:
Eric says, “We’ll probably be around Boston, because it’s a good spot for both our careers. I plan to still be married.” He can see himself continuing to work at his current job, though he’s flexible.
Mandy aims to have her Ph.D and a job in the biotech industry. “I hope to be happily married, still living near a city, and a good chunk of the way into visiting every continent.”