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(My A-Z Guide is a resource for people planning an event, be it a wedding, birthday party, shower, etc. As long as it’s related to events, it’s fair game for this series. Please add to the usefulness of this guide by leaving your opinion, advice, or perspective in the comments below! And if you have topic suggestions, definitely mention those, as well!)
Marriage and weddings are rife with age-related judgements – “You’re too young to get married.” “Why aren’t you married yet?” “There’s such a big age difference between you and your fiancé(e).” Thankfully, there are advantages to getting married young and old, as well as just staying single. Since this is a wedding-related post, though, I’m going to leave the latter topic alone and focus on those folks who are tying the knot, regardless of how old they may be.
In the United States, the median age for a first marriage is roughly 27 for women and 29 for men, but this varies from state to state. For a good graphic of this breakdown, check out this webpage at news.mic. Unsurprisingly, folks in more urban areas tend to wait a little longer to get married, whereas the ages skew younger in the South and West. These ages are only medians, though, meaning half are younger and half are older than those ages, so don’t feel like you’re the odd man out if you aren’t close to those numbers.
If you do any research on weddings and ages, a lot of websites will mention that Americans are getting older and older at their first marriage. However, the timeline they use usually starts at 1950 or 1960. A lovely graphic at U.S. News and World Report points out that those decades were a weird trough in regards to marriage age. So, while folks are getting married a little later, the historical difference isn’t as great as many sites would have you believe. Also, this same site notes that because people are living longer, even though they are getting married later, the overall length of their marriages is longer.
With all of that background, here’s the point of this article – there are advantages to getting married both younger and older, so no matter which camp you’re in, feel free to use this information to defend yourself against the naysayers. Or just ignore the haters – that also works.
Let’s start out with those folks who marry young, and by “young”, I mean in your 20s, since there was a study showing that divorce is twice as likely for a women who marries at 18 vs 22. First off – getting married earlier could make you happier, especially for those who are 22-25 at their first marriage. Now, this doesn’t mean that folks who wait are unhappy, just that waiting for the sake of being happier is not necessary. And the “happy” aspect is definitely linked to marriage, as indicated by the National Marriage Project’s “Knot Yet” report, which noted that substantially more married people in their twenties were “highly satisfied” with their lives as opposed to those who were single or cohabiting.
Those who marry young also have more sex, as documented by Dana Rotz, who stated, “a four year increase in age at marriage is associated with a couple having sex about one time less per month.” Plus, the earlier you marry, the longer time you have to get it on with your spouse! And the benefits don’t end there. People who marry early tend to drink less alcohol, which is beneficial in that it helps with weight loss, decreased blood pressure, better sleep, better skin, and more money.
Lastly, according to a study titled Later First Marriage and Marital Success, “[their] findings do suggest that most persons have little or nothing to gain in the way of marital success by deliberately postponing marriage beyond the mid twenties.” In other words, if you find that special someone when you’re still in your early twenties, there’s no advantage to waiting around just for the sake of being older.
And now, let’s focus on those who wait until their 30s or beyond. In general, waiting to get married especially benefits college-educated females. If you’re a woman, you’ll make more money, on average an annual premium of $18,152 for those who are college graduates. (Note: the earnings effect is the opposite for men – they benefit from marrying earlier.) Women who have gone to college also tend to wait longer to have children, which means their kids are born into the relatively more stable environment of marriage, as opposed to single parenthood. Plus, “When couples are married when their first child is born, there’s a 13 percent chance they’ll separate within the first five year’s of the child’s life. When couples are cohabitating, their chances of breaking up within that period are 39 percent.” So, waiting longer to marry but even longer to have children can decrease the odds of that couple separating.
Those who marry later are also more emotionally mature. A study done by the National Institutes of Health found that brain development may not be complete until the age of 25, so waiting to marry may result in a person better knowing what they want and being more prepared to deal with emotional conflicts. In addition, older people tend to be more financially secure, so they avoid much of the financial strife that plagues younger couples.
Getting married older can also positively impact the overall quality of your marriage. “Compared to couples who marry in their twenties, those who married significantly later report less work-related stress, less marital conflict and more couple interaction and satisfaction.” In addition, increased life experiences prior to marriage gives a person more time to learn how to recognize dangerous behavior and establish a supportive community, which can decrease the likelihood of domestic violence.
And there’s also the simple fact that, for some folks, finding the right person just takes a bit longer. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with refusing to settle and therefore marrying later in life.
Are you a younger couple getting married? Or have you waited a bit longer than most? How do you think this will impact your marriage, and have you received any judgement from others for your choice? Let me know in the comments below!