9 Relationship Experts Predict How Marriage Will Change In The Next 25 Years

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white couple in their 20s in wedding clothes dancing in confetti

Societal norms evolve gradually — but change often seems sudden.

This is absolutely true of marriage in the United States, where the laws and social mores that give nuptials shape and purpose have shifted in fits and starts over the decades.

For eons, marriage has been defined as a partnership built on love, trust and commitment.

A lot of ideas about marriage have changed in the past few thousand years. And even in the past couple of decades.

To grasp how a quarter-century of elapsed time can transform society's ideas about marriage, consider that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was signed into law in 1996. DOMA's passage essentially outlawed same-sex marriage throughout the United States.

In 2013, President Barack Obama ordered the U.S. Department of Justice not to enforce DOMA — rendering the law toothless.

And in 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the landmark case, Obergefell v. Hodges, granted same-sex couples in all 50 states full, federally recognized marriage rights.

Change happened gradually — then suddenly. Marriage today is not what it was 25 years ago, in 1997. 

And marriage in 2047 will almost certainly be different from marriage in 2022. 

We asked a group of relationship experts to envision what marriage will look like in 25 years. Here are their predictions.

RELATED: 4 Reasons Marriage May (Or May Not Be) Right For You

What nine relationship experts believe marriage will look like in 25 years:

1. Mutual love, not merely ceremony, will cement relationships

In 1983, when Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell began their 39 years of non-marital relationship happiness, marriage experts claimed that it could not last.

However, Goldie was financially independent and wanted love, not alimony and Kurt, another successful actor, wasn’t old-fashioned so together they turned traditional marriage upside down.

As thousands of Hollywood relationships have died since then, millions of Americans have followed their example.

If you want security, marriage does not provide it. If you want lifelong love, you have to work at it and that is what more and more couples around the world learn each year.

- Susan Allan, CEO, the Marriage Forum

RELATED: This Mindset Coach Reveals The Secret To Her 25-Year Marriage

2. Unions based on kindness and self-worth will flourish

If we can make kindness a cultural norm, we will see longer-lasting relationships. They may not be legal marriages.

Rather, they will be long-term monogamous relationships between two loving people.

Anxiety, depression, divorce, and suicide rates should go down. This is possible if we make a simple shift in taking personal responsibility for our happiness and having things turn out as we want.

If blame, judgment, criticism, denial, and fear are perpetuated as cultural behavior norms, we will sadly see more domestic violence, suicide, and mental illness.

Insulate yourself in a bubble of kindness and start with yourself. There is hope if you do your part: Stay present.

Do some introspection (with kindness and compassion toward yourself). Look at the dark stuff and have professional help getting through it.

Make fear your friend. Otherwise, you will inadvertently use it as a destructive weapon that harms you and by default others.

Our society's happiness depends upon each one of us facing fear and moving through it, so we can tap into joy. 

- Laura Rubinstein, feminine power mentor

RELATED: The Deep, Emotional Bond Only The Longest-Lasting Couples Possess

3. Planetary peril will require greater teamwork

Given likely climate change debacles, commitments in marriage and similar relationships may be stronger as people appreciate the benefits of and needs for mutual assistance. 

Planning for dangers and unknowns will require stronger, smarter, sustained collaborations.

Ruth Schimel, PhD, career and life management consultant

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4. Women will embrace independence and get married on their terms

In 25 years from now, more women will be empowered and financially independent to say no to marriage and live their life on their terms.

When a man marries, his life gets better. But when a woman gets married today, her responsibilities and demands on her time and energy go up, even more so when she has a full-time job.

Today, single women feel less than when they are not in a relationship. But 25 years from now, girls will know that they are not defined by their marital status and will say more yes to themselves and no to the demands of society in the form of marriage.

Will they be in love and enjoy relationships? Absolutely yes!

Will they pine to be the wife? Not as long as they know their worth and are financially independent.

- Keya Murthy, clinical hypnotherapist, spiritual life coach

RELATED: Why Marriage Matters

5. The sanctity of emotional commitment will become stronger than ever

I believe in what I call the Law of the Pendulum. This simply means that we often get swung in one direction drastically and in order to find balance or harmony we must first swing back in the other direction drastically as well.

I have seen this happen in my life in all areas. Our world right now is angry and bitter about all things that we once valued and cherished, such as marriage.

We live in a society where we look down on or belittle the vow of commitment. Even I have walked this path in my personal life and relationships and explored non-commitment, loose attachments, and turned away from the deep eternal vow of soul commitment that is intended for marriage.

Today we fight for individuality and think that wanting or needing someone by our side makes us weak and vulnerable. It opens us up to pain and wounding.

Yes, it does this for sure. However, true commitment and love do just this and it is only through "the entity of us" — which is marriage or domestic union — do we find a deeper level of self and understanding of the self.

It is through that marriage that we get to expand ourselves and heal our childhood wounds.

I believe that over the course of the next 25 years our world will swing that pendulum back to what we once knew but with a new light.

A healthy, compassionate, emotionally mature commitment container, where we can learn to come together and be vulnerable in our support for another that we call our life mate. Our soulmate.

We will find the equilibrium that we have not ever had in our history.

- Renate Schooler, sex and relationship coach, author, speaker

RELATED: Why Marriage Isn't A Reliable Test Of Loyalty And Love Anymore

6. Evolution toward a supportive union of equals

Marriage has changed so much already, especially with legislation that opens marriage up to all. With the waning of religious and societal pressures, more people can now choose to marry and if necessary, divorce.

I see marriage remaining in a quarter century, and I predict that it will progress even further to a supportive union of equals.

My hope is that choice will be ever more abundant for couples around the world, that no one is forced into a marriage of abuse or trapped into domestic labor, and that what will remain about marriage is the love found within a nurturing family unit.

We've come so far, but let's keep up the progress until marriage is a commitment to love, to respect — not obey or fear.

- Kathryn Ramsperger, certified coach, author

RELATED: 5 Hard Truths About Being In A Traditional Marriage, As Told By A Divorce Coach

7. Marriage alternatives will become more plentiful

Couples committing to marriage will continue to decline while alternatives to it will increase.

We'll see more cohabitation without marriage, "LATS" — living apart together. We'll see more non-monogamous arrangements, and more people choosing to be single.

Unfortunately, I think the divorce rate will continue to hold steady for those who do marry.

I also predict that seeking professional help will continue to be on the rise for those wishing to work on their romantic relationships, along with the various ways that people are pursuing love.

- Dr. Marni Feuerman, licensed marriage therapist

RELATED: What Being In A Polygamous Marriage Is Really Like

8. The emergence of short-term marriage contracts

The legal aspects of marriage may change from 'til death do us part to short-term agreements that can be renewed in three to five years. This may have people who marry more committed because they don't want to break up every time the agreement expires.

I believe these short-term agreements won't prevent heartbreak and may even contribute to heartbreak if people are not committed to making it work.

- Marilyn Sutherland, relationship and communication coach

RELATED: Why We Chose To Have An Open Marriage Without A Legally Binding Contract

9. Greater non-marital support will mean less demand for conventual marriage

As the number of people who marry later in life or not all continues to increase, single people will face less pressure and stigma for their choice since being single will be more common.

People who have never married may create intentional families with extended relatives, friends, and other people who seek to build community.

These non-marital support systems will also offer child-rearing assistance to those who want to have children. 

More affordable reproductive interventions will be available to women, which will, in turn, help to ease the pressure for marriage by a certain age. 

- Curren Trusty, licensed therapist and relationship coach

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Carter Gaddis is YourTango's senior editor for experts & wellness.