Are You Young (Or Old) Enough To Get Married?

The only goal I had before getting married was to finish college. This was something my parents instilled in me at a very young age. Check.

People are pretty opinionated when it comes to the “right” time to get married. But whether you think you should have a college degree, research is now saying it doesn’t really matter. As long as you are between the ages of 28 and 32, you’re cleared to get hitched.

Nick Wolfinger, a sociologist at the University of Utah, analyzed data from the National Survey of Family Growth, which (as noted in the study) is generally a pro-marriage institute of Family Studies. “The odds of divorce decline as you age from your teenage years through your late 20s and early 30s,” Wolfinger said. “Thereafter, the chances of divorce go up again as you move into your late 30s and early 40s.” For each year after about 32, the chance of divorce goes up about 5 person, according  the study.” Wolfinger calls the phenomenon “the Goldilocks Theory of getting married” because you have to be not too young and not too old.

young married couple

Your 20s and 30s are traditionally thought to be the time when you have it all figured out. You’ve finished school, become financially independent, and matured enough to want a long-term committed relationship. But you’re also open and flexible to change. You aren’t set in your ways so much that you’re unwilling to make small adjustments to your lifestyle. And, you more than likely don’t have ex-spouses or children, which can cause stress at the beginning of a relationship.

Wolfinger also said the trend persists even when they controlled for participants’ sex, race, family origin, age, education, religious tradition, religious attendance, sexual history, as well as the population of the city in which they live. He suspects the results are due to selection bias.“The kinds of people who wait until their 30s to get married may be the kinds of people who aren’t predisposed toward doing well in their marriages,” he said. “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.”

Sociologists Say Bogus Data

The University of Maryland’s Phillip Cohen did his own research from the American Community Survey and according to his analysis, the perfect age to get married is 45 to 49. Cohen said that because the results are so far off from Wolfinger’s, people shouldn’t base life decisions on statistical analyses.

older married couple
So what do you think? Is the data an accurate representation or do a bunch of sociologists have too much time are their hands? I think, “to each his own.” No one can decide when the proper time is to get married, and you shouldn’t be Googling marriage statistics because you will probably wind up more confused than ever.

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