There are a number of reasons why people in the West marry later than they did 50 or 60 years ago. Many of them have to do with damaging social movements that became prevalent in the late 1960s.
One is that there were ideas in psychology at the time that said that people should feel personally self-sufficient, and that they shouldn’t need marriage or another person in order to feel happy. People later started calling this “me-ism”, which is meant to be an insulting term. Many people took this advice, and learned to be satisfied with themselves, and that made them lose the feeling that they needed to marry. Then, ironically, this made many of them unhappy later in their lives, because they didn’t know how to stop being selfish and be married.
Another thing that caused this change was feminism. At the beginning, feminism advocated the idea that women should have the same legal rights in society that men do. This is a good goal, but after they achieved the goal, that wasn’t enough, and feminists started teaching philosophies that made many women hateful and suspicious of men. No man wants to marry these women, and this makes many of them even more suspicious and hateful, which makes it even harder to attract a husband. Another thing that feminism did was make women feel guilty for marrying, having children and raising them. It made women who do this feel guilty that they aren’t career women. At the same time, the career women felt guilty that they don’t marry and raise children. This makes their brains ping-pong back and forth, and it’s hard for such women to make the decision to marry, and it’s hard for men to be married to them.
Feminism also stigmatized masculinity so much that men were discouraged from having the assertive, protective urges that marriage and fatherhood require. Men in Eastern countries don’t have this problem.
Another thing that made people in the West start marrying later was that people born in the 1940s and later grew up with a much higher level of prosperity than other people did. What they think is basic to life is actually quite luxurious to most people in the world and even to their grandparents. This is why you get young professionals who have a relatively large, four-bedroom house and two nice cars, and go out to dinner a lot, who then say, “We’d like to have children, but we can’t afford them!” Many people born after the 1940s have no idea of the material sacrifice necessary to support and raise children.
In the United States, a lot of people postpone marriage and children because they leave the university with a huge mountain of student loan debt that they probably won’t be able to pay back until their 30s.
A lot of people in the West think people will be unhappy or will surely get divorced if they marry young, and many young people who are in love at an early age are so afraid of this possibility that they don’t marry each other, even though they probably should.
The main reason some people live together instead of getting married is that they have been convinced somehow that, “You should try living together first so that you can see if you get along well enough to get married.” The problem, social scientists have found, is that people who do this are much more likely to get divorced than people who marry before they move into the same house. The reason is that these are generally people who are a bit selfish and have a weaker sense of commitment to other people. Besides, in this arrangement, the man has all the sexual benefits and other benefits, but he has none of the responsibility. And the woman has all the vulnerability, but none of the protection. Note that this cohabitation is declining in the US, as people start to understand again the importance of marriage. My impression is that this reveral toward more marriage has not begun in Western Europe, where people still seem to have their heads in the 1970s (or at least they look that way to Americans).
Another reason we don’t get married young is that there is no tradition of arranged marriage here. I actually believe that arranged marriage is a good thing when it’s done correctly.