TIME Research

Millennials Now Have Jobs But Still Live With Their Parents

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A Pew study finds the perplexing pattern has affected the housing industry

Halfway through this decade and nearly seven years after the Great Recession, Millennials are bouncing back—sort of.

In a new study released by Pew, researchers find that while Millennials—people who were born after 1981—are back to the pre-recession era unemployment levels of 7.7%, they haven’t been able to establish themselves as adults in other ways, like owning a home or getting married.

Richard Fry, an economist and lead author of the study, describes the situation as Millennials’ “failure to launch.” “I think the core is a bit of a puzzle with one clear consequence,” Fry told TIME. “There’s good news: the group that was hit the hardest—young adults—are now getting full-time jobs and earnings are tracking upwards. But the surprise is that with the recovery in the labor market, there are fewer young adults living independently.” (Living independently here is defined as heading a household; in other words, owning a home.)

When the recession hit, young people moved back into their parents’ house in droves, unemployed and without much hope for any future work. The thought process was that once the economy improved and Millennials returned to work, they’d scoot out of their parents lair.

But that hasn’t been the case, and economists aren’t sure why.

“Is it a good thing or a bad thing? I don’t know,” Fry said. He was also the author of a study three years ago that explored Millennials living and work situations using 2012 data, and he thought then that the explanation was clear. “My thought was, ‘Yeah, that’s true, the job market is crummy,'” he said. “My expectation was that as the labor market improves, more young people will strike out on their own, but that’s not the case.”

About 42.2 million 18-to-34 year olds are living away from home this year; 2007 numbers were just above 2015’s independent young adult population at 42.7 million. There are a few common characteristics of these Millennial householders; they are more likely to be women (72% compared to their male counterparts) and college-educated (86% of those with bachelors degrees were living independently compared to 75% of the same peer group holding only a high school education). Fry points to women getting in permanent romantic relationships earlier that either lead to marriage or cohabitation as the cause of this gender difference.

The consequences of Millennials still living at home go far beyond the household dynamics of adult children being at home with parents. Consider the housing sector, which has not recovered from the 2008 economic tumble. If more young adults had decided to take on home ownership, the economy may have improved more.

So how are Millennials most likely living if they’re not living at home? Probably with a roommate, or doubled up with a fellow adult who is not their spouse or partner, data suggests.

But having a roommate or living at home have real demographic effects for the future, Fry says. He goes back to two key facts: that people living independently tend to be better educated and that college educated people tend to delay marriage or not marry at all (though even Millennials with a high school education are not getting married as much as they used to.) That means that less educated Millennials are facing consequences in not just the job market, but beyond.

“There’s less sorting—that when the less educated do marry, they marry others who are also less educated,” he said. “That’s going to impact household income and economic wellbeing. That’s going to affect economic outcomes.”

TIME Spain

Spain Has Finally Made It Illegal for 14-Year-Olds to Get Married

The move is largely symbolic, as few Spaniards have wed younger than 16 in recent years

Spain’s legal marriage age increased from 14 to 16 on Thursday, bringing the country’s policies in line with the majority of Europe. The law also raises the legal age of sexual consent to 14 years old from 13.

The previous policy allowed some of the earliest marriages on the continent. Now, the only exceptions are Andorra and the Ukraine (age 14) and Estonia (age 15), El País reports.

Marriage at such early ages has declined significantly in recent years. Of the more than 28,000 people under 16 to get married in the country since 1975, only 365 of those did so after 2000 and less than ten in the last year, according to Spain’s National Institute of Statistics. With these trends in mind, politicians and activists alike say the new law is a mostly symbolic move against pedophilia and forced marriage. Even so, unions at 16 will require special permission from a judge; otherwise, the minimum will be 18.

The country’s sizable Gypsy population, known for its tradition of early marriage, has expressed support for the new measure. “It’s the 21st century and it’s normal for young people to take longer to get married,” Mariano González, manager of the Roma Union of Madrid, told El País. “In past decades, it was normal for any couple, Gypsy or not [to get married early]. Although our tradition is what it is, now we get married later. This law is a step forward.”

[El País]

TIME Family

How to Balance 2 Careers in a Family

It has to be an ongoing conversation

If your family isn’t just “me, the kid, and my partner,” but, rather, “me, the kid, my partner, and both our careers,” then you’re probably in the midst of a Flying Wallendas-like balancing act trying to keep everything on track. But figuring out whose career should take precedence in a family is never simply about dollars and cents.

“[It] can change, day to day,” says certified coach Rachael Ellison, whose practice focuses on strategic business consulting, executive coaching, and countless discussions about this exact topic. When talking through it with two working parents, she encourages them not to think about it as a one-off decision but an ongoing conversation about “who should lean into their career and who should lean back.”

And, if you feel weird subjecting your marriage and career to therapy with a certified coach, remember: “It’s not therapy. It’s a planning process.”

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Stop Making Assumptions

“These are conversations that people avoid having,” Ellison says. “Everyone kind of expects that the other one understands whose career should take precedence.”

If one of you has agreed to stay home and put a career on pause, have you talked about how long they’re comfortable doing that? If one of you is working more to accommodate a paused career and missing events or milestone because of it, have you talked about whether or not it’s worth it?

If the answer to questions like that is “Kinda?” then you have a bumpy road ahead. Even if you’re the next president and she’s Betty Draper, you both need to communicate what the other wants and expects.

Focus On The 5 Ps

These conversations are complicated because they affect your time, relationships, even where you live — so Ellison recommends breaking them down into 5 key areas:

  • Parental — Kid-related. Who’s packing lunches? Which days are soccer practice? Does the kid prefer bath time or doctor’s appointments with a particular parent (be honest)?
  • Professional — Work-related. Do you plan on moving if you land that dream job in Dallas next year? Why is your dream job in Dallas? Reconsider Dallas.
  • Personal — Whatever keeps each of you sane: golf, the spa, running, The Annual Wisconsin State Cow Chip Throw. These things are essential and need to be accounted for.
  • Partnership — Lovelife. Don’t let the kid suck all the oxygen out of the conversation. Factor in the time and financial considerations to maintain the things you need as a couple, because the conversations get way more complicated if you’re divorced.
  • Practical — Everything else. Does gentrification mean you’re going to get priced out of your neighborhood? Will your aging in-laws need to move in with you? Is that a goiter developing on the dog?

Take The Long View

If your wife is a teacher, plan on childrearing duties shifting around her in the summers. If you’re a CPA, plan on shifting household duties around, say, every spring for the rest of your life. Is the kid about to start kindergarten, and how does that affect your finances? Does one of you want to go back to school for that MBA?

Get a sense of not just the year-in, year-out stuff, but what your lives will look like in five, 10, even 20 years out.

Take The Short View

“Breaking down those big-picture issues into manageable topics is what’s most important here,” Ellison says. “As long as both want to/need to stay in the workforce, then you’re ultimately making a decision around how the little things are covered.”

Who makes breakfast in the morning? Who’s doing drop-offs and pickups from school on Tuesdays, and should that change on Wednesdays? Once there’s a general understanding of each other’s future, navigating the daily hurdles comes easier. Keep in mind this is a “process,” Ellison advises,”not a decision that’s made categorically and finally.”

One last bit of advice: Nothing ruins date night like inventorying five years of ambitions and obstacles in order to assign spousal duties, so carve out a specific time to have these conversations. Like dental exams, appointments with the proctologist, or that conversation about porn you’ll soon have with your kid, it can be painful, but it’s for the best.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly

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TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Marriage

Math Says This Is the Perfect Age to Get Married

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A new study suggests that people should get married between the ages of 28 and 32 if they don’t want to get divorced, at least in the first five years.

Before we proceed to the explanation: Don’t shoot me if you’re older than that and not married yet. These are just statistics and can in no way account for your personal situation, or that last cheater/psycho/narcissist you wasted 18 months on. Nobody’s blaming you. You are a wonderful and entirely loveable person.

Now, moving on.

The study was done by Nick Wolfinger, a sociologist at the University of Utah, and published by the generally pro-marriage Institute of Family Studies. It suggests that people who get married between 28 and 32 split up least in the ensuing years. This is a new development; sociologists formerly believed that waiting longer to get hitched usually led to more stability, and there was no real sell-by date.

Wolfinger analyzed data from 2006-2010 and the 2011-2013 National Survey of Family Growth. He found a sort of upside down bell curve. “The odds of divorce decline as you age from your teenage years through your late twenties and early thirties,” he writes. “Thereafter, the chances of divorce go up again as you move into your late thirties and early forties.” For each year after about 32, the chance of divorce goes up about 5% says the study.

Divorce chart

 

Some wag over at Slate called this the Goldilocks theory of getting married: you have to be not too young and not too old.

There are lots of reasons why late 20s/early 30s would make sense as a time to start a lifelong partnership with someone: people are old enough to understand if they really get along with someone or are just blinded by hormones. They’ve already made significant life choices and taken on some responsibilities. And they may be just financially solvent enough to be able to contemplate supporting someone should the need arise.

On the other hand, they’re not so old and set in their ways that they can’t make the myriad of little adjustments in habits and lifestyle and goals and personal hygiene that marriage requires. They probably don’t have ex-spouses or children among whom they to divide their time, resources and loyalty.

Wolfinger says the curve persists “even after controlling for respondents’ sex, race, family structure of origin, age at the time of the survey, education, religious tradition, religious attendance, and sexual history, as well as the size of the metropolitan area that they live in.” He thinks the reason might be selection bias. “The kinds of people who wait till their thirties to get married may be the kinds of people who aren’t predisposed toward doing well in their marriages,” he writes. This also means “people who marry later face a pool of potential spouses that has been winnowed down to exclude the individuals most predisposed to succeed at matrimony.”

(Again, I refer you to my caveat in paragraph two. It’s Mr. Wolfinger suggesting singles over 32 are not marriage material, not me. )

Other sociologists who cover this waterfront were quick to weigh in with doubts. The University of Maryland’s Phillip Cohen used a different set of data, from the American Community Survey, to say that getting older didn’t mean your marriage had less chance of survival. According to his analysis, the perfect age to get married if you don’t want to get divorced is 45 to 49, which, he notes, is why people shouldn’t make life decisions based on statistical analyses on the Internet.

Philip N. Cohen

The truth is: divorce is a difficult social pattern to measure. Many states decline to collect data on it. And since a growing number of people are opting for living together without getting the government seal of approval, counting divorce is becoming less useful as a way of measuring family fracturing.

Still, there are a few truisms backed by research: Having money and a college degree reduces your chances of getting divorced, as does getting engaged before moving in together and waiting to have kids until after the nuptials. Those you can pretty much take to the bank.

Until the next study.

Read next: The 25 Most Influential Marriages of All Time

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TIME Innovation

How Privatizing Marriage Would Be Disastrous

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

These are today's best ideas

1. Why privatizing marriage would be a disaster.

By Shikha Dalmia in the Week

2. Is the United States working on a new nuclear weapon?

By Oliver Lazarus in the Takeaway

3. Why America’s workforce is shrinking and Europe’s isn’t.

By Tami Luhby in CNN Money

4. The Pentagon is courting Silicon Valley and leaving traditional defense contractors behind.

By Leigh Munsil and Philip Ewing in Politico

5. New drugs for Alzheimer’s could treat Parkinson’s and other brain diseases.

By Jon Hamilton at NPR

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME psychology

Stop Trying to Achieve Work-Life Balance

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Shane Parrish writes Farnam Street

There are other dynamics at play

Work-life balance is a concept that has us simply lashing ourselves on the back and working too hard in each of the three commitments. In the ensuing exhaustion we ultimately give up on one or more of them to gain an easier life.

Few books I’ve read contain more marked passages and pages than David Whyte’s passionate and thought-provoking book, The Three Marriages: Reimagining Work, Self and Relationship, which argues we should stop thinking in terms of work-life balance.

The current understanding of work-life balance is too simplistic. People find it hard to balance work with family, family with self, because it might not be a question of balance. Some other dynamic is in play, something to do with a very human attempt at happiness that does not quantify different parts of life and then set them against one another. We are collectively exhausted because of our inability to hold competing parts of ourselves together in a more integrated way.

Whyte argues that we come to a sense of meaning and belonging “only through long periods of exile and loneliness.”

Interestingly, we belong to life as much through our sense that it is all impossible, as we do through the sense that we will accomplish everything we have set out to do. This sense of belonging and not belonging is lived out by most people through three principal dynamics: first, through relationship to other people and other living things (particularly and very personally, to one other living, breathing person in relationship or marriage); second, through work; and third, through an understanding of what it means to be themselves, discrete individuals alive and seemingly separate from everyone and everything else.

These are the three marriages, of Work, Self and Other.

These three lifelong pursuits, Whyte believes, “involve vows made either consciously or unconsciously.” Neglecting any one of these “impoverishes them all” because they are not mutually distinct but rather “different expressions of the way each individual belongs to the world.” Our flirtation with each differs and yet we are left to inter-weave the vows into a cohesive person, consciously or unconsciously.

Whyte’s premise is also his conclusion:

We should stop thinking in terms of work-life balance. Work-life balance is a concept that has us simply lashing ourselves on the back and working too hard in each of the three commitments. In the ensuing exhaustion we ultimately give up on one or more of them to gain an easier life.

… [E]ach of these marriages is, at its heart, nonnegotiable; that we should give up the attempt to balance one marriage against another, of, for instance, taking away from work to give more time to a partner, or vice versa, and start thinking of each marriage conversing with, questioning or emboldening the other two. … (once we understand they are not negotiable) we can start to realign our understanding and our efforts away from trading and bartering parts of ourselves as if they were salable commodities and more toward finding a central conversation that can hold all of these three marriages together.

Perhaps this resonates with me more than most because I’ve always found the argument that we should live a balanced life lacking. At its heart this implies we should trade one aspect for another, compromising as we go. To me this trimming of excess in one area to prop up another serves to remove, not create, meaning.

The other argument that Whyte surfaces penetrates the fabric of our human needs: the constant tug of war between our social desires and our need for space. This is another area where we naturally try to find balance and in so doing compromise part of ourselves.

The Three Marriages: Reimagining Work, Self and Relationship “dispels the myth that we are predominately thinking creatures, who can, if we put our feet in all the right places, develop strategies that will make us the paragons of perfection we want to be, and instead, looks to a deeper, almost poetic perspective.”

This piece originally appeared on Farnam Street.

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TIME Diet/Nutrition

4 Sneaky Things That Can Make You Overeat

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How often do you snack in a day?

Overeating is tricky. First, you may not even realize you’re doing it. Second, you may not know why you’re eating too much, because some triggers are downright counterintuitive. Here are four sneaky reasons you may be taking in too many surplus calories, and what you can do to stop it.

Fitness food marketing

I think we all know that simply eating a food won’t make us more fit, but a recent study published in the Journal of Marketing Research found that when foods are fitness-branded, some of us may unknowingly eat more and exercise less. In the Penn State study “restrained” eaters (people constantly concerned about their weight) were given identical snacks, one labeled “Trail Mix” and the other labeled “Fitness,” which had a picture of running shoes on the packaging. The study volunteers were asked to pretend they were snacking at home, and were given eight minutes to taste and rate the product. In a second phase of the study, subjects had the opportunity to work out as vigorously as they wanted to on a stationary bike. Scientists found that unless the food was specifically forbidden by their diet, people who were trying to watch their weight ate more of the fitness snack than the trail mix. And these eaters also didn’t work out as vigorously as those who ate the trail mix, apparently seeing the food as a substitute for exercise.

Solution

In my experience, the best way to deflect the effects of food marketing is to raise your awareness. One analogy I often use with clients is getting out of debt. In that situation, you create a budget, and set a goal of carefully thinking through your purchases, rather than buying things impulsively, or based on emotion. Food can be approached the same way. Before reaching for something, check in with your body to determine if you’re hungry. If you aren’t, think about why you want to eat–are you bored, tired, frustrated, or rebelling against a too strict diet? Once you’re aware of the trigger you can address it head on. And if you are hungry, consciously think through what will allow you to hit what I call the “just right” trifecta–full (but not too full), satisfied, and energized. If a food’s packaging or marketing doesn’t align with your instincts about what your body needs to feel just right, getting derailed by marketing will be easy to avoid.

Drinking alcohol–even “skinny” cocktails

I think most people have experienced a loss of inhibition with alcohol, which in turn affects food choices. Numerous clients have told me that an “ah, screw it” attitude brought on by imbibing led to digging into chips and salsa, or ordering a side of fries or dessert. A new Texas Tech University study, published the journal Obesity, highlights why. Researchers found that alcohol makes women’s brains more sensitive to the smell of food, thus increasing caloric intake. In the study, 35 non-vegetarian, non-smoking healthy weight women were given either alcohol or a saline placebo intravenously prior to eating. The women’s responses to both food and non-food aromas were measured using brain scans before a meal. Scientists found that in those who received alcohol, the brain responded more to food odors, and the majority of this group–two-thirds–ate more at lunch. In short, the potential impact of alcohol on weight goes beyond the calories cocktails themselves provide. And if you typically order “skinny” drinks. the effect may be enhanced. A University of North Texas Health Science Center study found that drinks made with artificial sweetener rather than sugar resulted in an 18% greater increase in blood alcohol concentration.

Solution

If you know that drinking is likely to make you want to eat more, strategize before you take your first sip. If you’re going to a restaurant check out the menu online ahead of time, pre-decide what to order, and stick to it. Ask for a tall glass of water along with your drink to slow your pace, and keep the bread basket or chips out of arm’s reach. If you’re hosting a get together, serve up lots of healthy fare, especially finger foods that pack fewer calories for a larger volume, like cut veggies, shrimp cocktail, olives, popcorn, and fruit. Even if you lose track of exactly how much you’ve eaten over the course of the party, you’ll still be less likely to rack up too many calories.

Getting married

A great deal of research shows that overall marriage is good for your health. But a new European study from University of Basel found that while married couples generally eat healthier, they tend to be less active, and weigh significantly more. The researchers compared marital status to body mass index (BMI), which measures weight in relation to height, in over 10,000 people across nine countries. In every country, couples had higher BMIs than singles–whether men or women. The differences were also small between countries, highlighting the likelihood of the connection, and research in the U.S. has shown a similar pattern. One University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill study found that women who get married in their early 20s gain an average of 24 pounds in the first five years, and men in the same age group gain an average of 30 pounds.

Solution

Whether you’re about to get hitched or you’ve been coupled for some time, you can alter your weight fate. The two biggest rules of thumb: don’t use food as entertainment; and eat for your body’s needs, not your partner’s. Many couples I’ve counseled fall into a rut of using food as their primary way of spending time together–going out to dinner, or for ice cream, ordering pizza, making brunch…Try mixing things up and plan activities that don’t revolve around food (go to a play, art gallery or museum, or do something active, like hiking, biking, or indoor rock climbing), or involve healthy eating (visit a farmer’s market instead of a food court). Also, if your partner is a different size, don’t mimic his or her eating habits. I’ve had numerous clients pack on pounds because they started splitting meals or enjoying equal portions with a partner who had much higher calorie needs. If it’s taco night, and you don’t think you can afford to eat as much as your significant other, turn your tacos into lettuce boats and forgo some of the extras, like cheese and sour cream. Being in a relationship doesn’t have to mean eating the exact same meals or portions, or even eating at the same time. Bottom line: post-nuptial weight gain typically results from a pattern of overeating. If you can reverse that you can undo the poundage.

Frequent snacking

OK, this one may seem like a no-brainer, but many of my clients snack when they’re not hungry, sometimes because they’ve heard that eating small frequent meals is best for weight loss, and by the end of the day they’ve just simply eaten too much. A new study published in the journal Eating Behaviors found that indeed, snacking in the absence of hunger can cause just as much weight gain as consuming high calorie foods or oversized portions. In the study, researchers offered volunteers a chocolate snack after they’d just eaten as much as they wanted of a similar snack food. Three quarters of the group accepted the second snack even though they should not have felt hungry. Scientists found that those who ate the most tended to be more impulsive, and were more responsive to food rewards. They also had higher BMIs, which suggests that repeated snacking in the absence of hunger is a weight gain culprit.

Solution

I see this pattern often in my practice. When clients submit food journals I ask them to track their level of hunger or fullness both before and after meals and snacks, as well as their thoughts, feelings, mood, and insights. By beginning to pay attention to this, many find that they often eat when not hungry, perhaps because food was offered to them, or because they thought the snack was healthy (e.g. nuts are good for me!). Other common reasons include eating out of habit, because others are eating, or due to an emotional cue, like anxiety. If you find yourself falling into this trap, experiment with what it feels like to allow actual hunger to guide you. You’ll quickly learn how to adjust your portions and meal timing so you are physically hungry every time you eat, a pattern that can result in enjoying your food more, while simultaneously slimming you down.

Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, and privately counsels clients in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers NHL team and the Tampa Bay Rays MLB team, and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics.

This article originally appeared on Health.com

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TIME Religion

How Christians Get Interfaith Marriage Wrong

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The rise of interfaith marriage might indicate shift towards a more open and progressive American spirituality

While Christianity is American’s most popular religion (70% of people in the U.S. identify as such), pastors and scholars all let out a collective gasp at the latest findings from the Pew Forum Religious Landscape Study. According to Pew, 2015 might be the year of the religious “nones,” as those who do not identify or affiliate with any faith tradition are on the rise, while the number those who call themselves “Christian” is declining. With an eight percentage point drop in just eight years, we are all wondering what American Christianity will look like in two or three generations.

The bright (or bleak, according to some) spot in the latest Pew report? Since 2010, interfaith marriages have increased, and now four-in-ten Americans marry a spouse of a different religious group. This is a 20% increase since those who were wed prior to 1960.

Trends in the decline of Christianity’s dominance and the rise of interfaith marriage might indicate shift towards a more open and progressive American spirituality. But, it doesn’t take much Googling to uncover advice against the modern paradigm of the “nones” and blended faith families. Naomi Schaefer Riley, journalist and author of ‘Til Faith Do Us Part, ignited the contemporary interfaith marriage conversation in 2013 with the publication of her research of such partnerships. Schaefer Riley is herself a willing participant in the interfaith marriage movement (she’s Jewish; her husband is a former Jehovah’s Witness), but still outlines the perils of such unions.

For decades, pastors and rabbis have contributed to the cacophony of concern: “divided” households lead to the confused religious lives of future children, and then there’s the age-old, much-debated Christian argument of being “unequally yoked,”with another, a phrase attributed to Paul the Apostle.

Do not be mismatched with unbelievers. For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship is there between light and darkness? (2 Corinthians 6:14, NRSV)

But, how does a Biblical warning allegedly issued by a 1st century theologian bode for the would-be interfaith couples of 2015?

I was raised in rural North Carolina as a Southern Baptist who took the Bible literally. It was my infallible guide for life, and a simple yet unwavering faith marked my adolescence. I assumed that everyone who lived both in and outside of my tiny tobacco town was as steeped in Baptist beliefs as I was. I didn’t awaken to the possibility that folks practiced anything besides baptism by immersion until attended a Moravian women’s college for my undergraduate studies, and Duke University for seminary.

At school, I learned that the Bible is a complex, layered manuscript written over time whose canon took centuries to develop. There was far more to this book than the poetic King James sound bites that had rolled effortlessly off my 13-year-old tongue.

Armed with my deconstructed assumptions, I joined a progressive Baptist church whose members comprised mostly of retired university faculty. There were only a handful of already-married 20 and 30-somethings in our parish, and while my new faith community was intellectually and spiritually fulfilling, I was lonely. So, I did what many female Millennials raised in South do to a find “godly, Christian man”: I went online.

I took an intense eHarmony questionnaire which forced me to decide: was I open to dating someone of another faith? I checked all the “Big 5” of the world’s religions, certain I wouldn’t end up with anyone outside the Abrahamic faiths (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam). But, as luck—or providence—would have it, I was matched with a devout Hindu who lived as a monk and priest for five years.

Because my now-husband and I are each ordained in our respective Christian and Hindu traditions, our first dates consisted of theological talk, and we became serious students of one another’s religions. But the nay-sayers were already warning against our courtship, and so we tackled 2 Corinthians 6:14 head on, digging and wondering. The result was surprising.

An ancient scripture meant to deter us from getting involved with each other actually brought us together. Our core beliefs in God became the focus of our study and relationship, not the issues that divided us.

And, like good clergy, we consulted Biblical experts. A local scholar explained that, for the vulnerable and fledgling Christian faith of the first century, the chief concern was to spread the Gospel, not to impede it. The Greek for word “marriage” is not even used in this text, even though modern readings apply it to interfaith marriage. Rather, “yoked” signifies “work,” as one would yoke oxen together to plow or haul. Therefore a more effective way of interpreting 2 Corinthians 6:14 might be to consider the essence of what the author meant by “working” with unbeliever.

In first century, an “unbeliever” would have been anyone exposed to but was not faithful to Christ’s teachings—someone not characterized by devotion, love, peace, mercy, and forgiveness. In the context of the early Church, it’s easy to understand why Paul might caution those first generations of “believers” against being “yoked” with someone for whom Christ was not relevant. If the goal was the spread the Gospel, “working” with an unbeliever might have impaired it.

Today, my husband’s deep Hindu faith has taught me to dig deeper into what Jesus would have me do. Perhaps Paul might have even considered me an “unbeliever,” as I claimed to be a baptized Christian, but my life did not inwardly and outwardly reflect the Gospel. Since marrying Fred, I re-attuned my life to Christian spiritual practices: spending more time in contemplative prayer, practicing non-violence through a vegetarian diet, limiting my consumption, and increasing my service to others.

Much to many Christians’ dismay, it took a person of another faith—a seemingly “unequally yoked” partner, to strengthen my Christian walk.

The concerns over the tenacity it takes to be yoked to a partner of a different faith are certainly valid. But perhaps the more important question to pose is how each partner’s individual spiritual journey strengthens their collective faith and results in their passion to share God’s love.

Fred and I have found that it’s not so much about having the same faith as it is about having deep faith.

Om and alleluia.

J. Dana Trent is an author and teacher. A graduate of Duke Divinity School, she is ordained in the Southern Baptist tradition. Her awarded winning book, Saffron Cross: The Unlikely Story of How a Christian Minister Married a Hindu Monk tells the story of her eHarmony-born interfaith marriage. Dana blogs at jdanatrent.com and tweets@jdanatrent.

This article originally appeared on Patheos.

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TIME faith

12 Things Clergy Spouses Want You To Know

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We have a life beyond the church

I’m an Episcopal priest and my wife is a “parish” priest, which means that her “day job” — if there were such a thing in a church (not) — is shaped by the rhythm and demand of caring for the spiritual needs of a congregation.

So, I have experience as a clergy person and as the spouse of a clergy person. The spouses don’t often get a chance to tell their own story, but if they could, here are twelve things I think they would want you to know:

1. We are thrilled to be here. This isn’t just a job. God has called our spouses to this endeavor and we share that conviction.

2. We are not all women. Some of us are men. We could elaborate, but that should be obvious.

3. We are not all interested in shopping, knitting, the altar guild, and the sewing circle. We are way past the minister’s “little woman” era.

4. Please don’t ask us to take messages home to the pastor, minister, or priest. Speak directly to our ordained wives and husbands. We were taught that triangular behavior is a bad thing and it is.

5. We do not have secret information we can share with you. Our spouses don’t tell us everything and, even if they did, we couldn’t share it with you. Clergy who keep confidences are clergy who can be trusted. The rest are just gossips. (See item 4 above.)

6. We are not unpaid employees. Please don’t assume that we are part of a “two-fer.”

7. Don’t expect us to type or play the piano and organ. (See item 6 above.)

8. We want to be involved. We will support our spouses. But we need the freedom to choose our own way of contributing — Just. Like. You.

9. We have a life beyond the church. We are heavily engaged in our own careers and in nurturing our families. (See items 6, 7, and 8 above.)

10. Some of us are part of a clergy couple. Too often people and judicatories assume that if one of us is paid, it’s unfair to pay the other. Nowhere else on the face of the earth do people make that assumption. If we are contributing on an official basis, we should be compensated.

11. Our homes are our homes. We will gladly welcome you and entertain you. But even if you provided housing, that does not mean that we don’t value and need our privacy.

12. Please don’t pick on our families. Like you, we are a work in progress, in need of God’s grace and your patience.

Finally, please remember: When our spouse became your pastor, priest or minister, you became our family and our home. We live where we live and worship where we worship because of you. We will grieve with you, celebrate with you, live among you, and worship God with you.

We hope that you will welcome us as family, friends, and fellow pilgrims.

The Reverend Dr. Frederick W. Schmidt, Jr. holds the Rueben P. Job Chair in Spiritual Formation at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL, and directs the Rueben Job Institute for Spiritual Formation. He is an Episcopal Priest, spiritual director, retreat facilitator, conference leader, writer, and consulting editor at Church Publishing in New York. He is the author of numerous published articles and reviews, as well as several books: A Still Small Voice: Women, Ordination and the Church (Syracuse University Press, 1998), The Changing Face of God (Morehouse, 2000), When Suffering Persists (Morehouse, 2001), in Italian translation: Sofferenza, All ricerca di una riposta (Torino: Claudiana, 2004), What God Wants for Your Life (Harper, 2005), Conversations with Scripture: Revelation (Morehouse, 2005), Conversations with Scripture: Luke (Morehouse, 2009), and The Dave Test (Abingdon, 2013). He and his wife, Natalie (who is also an academic and an Episcopal priest), live in Highland Park, Illinois, with their Gordon Setter, Hilda of Whitby. They have four children and four grandchildren: Henry, Addie, Heidi, and Sophie.

This article originally appeared on Patheos

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Gays and Lesbians Have Different Reasons to Get Married, Study Says

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The big differences come down to kids

Same-sex marriage is now legal across the United States, but research on the reasons gays and lesbians get married is sparse. Now, in a recent study published in the journal Demography, a team of researchers looked at earnings and parenting patterns over time among married Swedish couples and found that registered partnership is important to both—but for different reasons.

The researchers looked at and followed Swedish couples who entered into registered partnerships sometime between 1995—the year Sweden approved registered partnerships of same-sex couples—through 2007. (They also analyzed data from 1994 to get a glimpse of life before official partnership.) The 1,381 couples in the study—672 lesbian and 709 gay couples—were entering their first unions and were between the ages of 20 and 64. The authors analyzed demographic data—including annual earnings from the couples, the differences between the earnings of people in the couple and the number of children in each union—for same-sex couples and compared the results to 267,264 heterosexual couples.

Sweden provides an intriguing opportunity to study how policy impacts same-sex marriages; though the country approved registered partnerships of same-sex couples in 1995, it wasn’t until a 2002 law that the country’s registered partners were allowed to jointly adopt children. (Swedish law dictates that married couples can only adopt jointly, thereby making it impossible for one partner to adopt without the other if the two partners are married.)

The authors found that gays and lesbians got married for very different reasons. Most gay couples entered their union without kids, and that number remained close to zero after marriage; the authors concluded that “the main function of registered partnership for gays is resource pooling,” they write in the paper. “For lesbians, on the other hand, the right to joint or step-parent adoption allowed in 2002 raised fertility and possibly entry into partnership.”

In other words, gay couples were more likely to get married to combine incomes and resources; lesbians tended to use marriage as a stepping stool towards creating a family, further emphasized by a spike in lesbians registering for marriage in 2002, the year when joint adoption was made legal.

The decision to have children is likely a large factor responsible for these differences, said Lena Edlund, an associate professor at Columbia University and one of the economists involved with the study. “I think the asymmetry results from a much greater difficulty male couples have in finding children that they can parent jointly,” she said in an e-mail. “It is also possible that male couples have a lower desire for joint children.”

For same-sex couples, adoption laws often lag behind marriage recognition laws—as they do in many states in the United States and did in Sweden. Having kids is especially expensive for gay mean, who need to find an egg and a gestational carrier—a problem lesbian couples don’t have.

Perhaps most intriguing is the role education plays in determining mates. In heterosexual marriages, assortative mating—choosing a partner more like oneself—is often at play, where partners are matched on an education level, according to economist Gary Becker’s A Theory of Marriage. A person with a master’s degree would partner with someone with at least a master’s degree; the theory states that it’s unlikely that this person would find common ground in parenting style and life philosophy with a person with a high school education.

What’s astonishing about the new research is that it showed that lesbian couples are often not as assortatively matched as heterosexual couples, or even gay men. For lesbians, an already thin marriage market means that education might not necessarily play a role in finding a mate so much as finding a partner who is equally as interested—or not—in raising children, Edlund said.

The concept of specialization also seems to play a lesser role in lesbian marriage compared to straight marriages. In a typical heterosexual marriage, the combination of having children and unequal pay means that partners are more likely to specialize, the study notes; the partner who earns less will stay at home with the kids, for example, while the partner who earns more acts as the breadwinner. In the Swedish sample, a higher percentage of lesbian couples remained on the labor force together and, in some instances, having their incomes nearly match after marriage.

The results of the study can only provide insight into the Swedish experience of same-sex parenting, which may differ from that in America, Edlund said. “American individuals and couples have greater access to fertility treatments and sperm banks,” she said. “There are also more American couples who can afford a surrogate mother.” Swedish couples, regardless of orientation, have access to healthcare and childcare options that the American couples don’t necessarily have, which would probably play into labor market options for partners, the study notes. But what can be said for sure is that, like any heterosexual marriage, marriage has consequences far more complex than simply signing a piece of paper.

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