Is Marrying In Your 20’s Smarter than Marrying in Your 30’s?

Is Marrying In Your 20's Smarter than Marrying in Your 30's

Evidently, when you’re a dating coach, everyone wants you to see the latest tragedy, so as a result, this article has already been forwarded to me a few times.

A new study states that you have a greater likelihood of divorcing if you marry in your mid-30s than if you marry in your late 20’s. The conclusion, of course: Get married right away! Your clock is ticking! Soon, there will be no men left! Panic! Panic! Panic!

I’m generally not one to question the veracity of studies – as a non-scientist, it would be like a politician questioning the merits of climate change – but something about this study rubs me the wrong way, in that it’s essentially trying to grab headlines.

Get married right away! Your clock is ticking! Soon, there will be no men left! Panic! Panic! Panic!

Dive a little deeper, and here’s what you see:

“Looking at the raw divorce rates, for instance, Wolfinger found that  people who married at age 35 or greater had a 19 percent risk of divorce, compared to a 20 percent risk for those aged 20 to 24, and a 32 percent risk for those who married before they were 20.”

Dive even deeper, by going to Wolfinger’s website and you’ll see that this study covers  the divorce risk only for “first marriages within the first five years of marriage.”

In other words, it doesn’t describe the seven year itch that may occur for a 28-year-old who married too soon and is trapped in bad relationship. It doesn’t describe my wife who remarried at age 38 after a failed first marriage and likes to think she made a good decision the second time around. Which is to say that, while it’s a splashy idea that marrying younger is “better” than marrying older, I think there are far too many variables that contradict such a simple narrative.

While it’s a splashy idea that marrying younger is “better” than marrying older, there are far too many variables that contradict such a simple narrative.

Don’t trust my experience: trust your own.

At what point in your life did you feel most capable of making smart, healthy, long-term decisions? Age 27? Or whatever age you’re at now?

The defense rests, your honor.

Your thoughts, below, are always appreciated.

Join our conversation (19 Comments).
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  1. 1

    Most likely now (29).   I have grown exponentially.   But it does seem to be true that the best guys are already snatched up.

    1. 1.1

      Yeah, I don’t think its rational or logical to tell women what age they should get married.   Its a woman’s body and if she wants monogamy or is pregnant, then she should have the right to get married at 25 or under.   Most people I know married their college sweethearts and have been married over 10 years and still going.   Its easier for a man at 35 to marry a girl who is 27 (perhaps that is the ideal male scenario).   But a woman who waits until 30 to start husband shopping is decreasing her options.   A woman’s peak desirability is probably at 25 if she wants to attract the widest possible number of men, then many men start marrying off especially in smaller towns.   Of course a 35 year old woman can always marry a 50-55 year old divorced guy (like George Clooney did).   But its probably better for a woman to marry at 27 if she wants her choice of guys.   Divorce can happen at any time or if a spouse changes jobs, its a misconception that marriages have to last until death to be successful.   I think most women prefer monogamy right now rather than waiting until old age.

      1. 1.1.1

        I also wonder if there is still the stigma of Divorce Shaming.   With the rise in Feminist career-women who can survive on their own after a divorce, there should no longer be any shame in divorcing at any age.   IN the past, a woman’s primary goal in life was the get married and stay married.   Now that women can work full time, they no longer need a husband for financial support, yet there persists a badge of shame for divorced women.   With feminism, less women are rushing to get married.   With a more secular society, less women are rushing to get married for religious reasons.   Women are making smarter decisions on who they want to marry and at what age they want to marry, now that most women can have pre-marital sex without slut shaming.   But I don’t think women have the luxury of delaying marriage, unlike men who can wait forever.   A woman should just try to get married whenever she can.

  2. 2

    I sure hope this isn’t true, or I’m already screwed if and when I ever marry my boyfriend!   🙂 Truth be told, I’m happy I met him now when I’m relatively more mature–and my boyfriend says the same thing about himself.   The other day he told me I really wouldn’t have liked his 20-something version, and I said the same thing about myself!   Looking back, I roll my eyes at my 20-something self and some of the stupid decisions I made back then.

    I do know a few really solid marriages with people who married at 19-20s.   However, the majority of early-married couples I have personally seen do not have the types of relationships I would ever aspire to.   I think that many times, people in their 20s are still figuring out who they are and what they’ll do with their lives after leaving school.   People can change a lot from their 20s to 30s.   Not to say that people are etched in stone in their 30s, but I think that their identities are better formed after having more life experience, some years put into the workforce, establishing careers, etc.   Sadly, I’ve seen more people grow apart than together, because they’re no longer the same people that their partners first met and fell in love with   (and most of them are only still married for the sake of their children).

    On the flip side, one advantage I can see to marrying young is perhaps child-rearing, since it is generally easier to get pregnant at younger ages (and easier to chase around toddlers!)   To me, both marrying younger and older have their respective benefits and drawbacks, so it’s too simplistic (although headline-grabbing) to declare one necessarily “better”.

  3. 3

    Honestly, I don’t think there is a hard and fast answer to this question. I have observed the friends and family I have that married in their late twenties (apart from one) are still married in their forties and they appear to be happy from what I can tell. I only have one close friend who married in her late thirties for the second time around five years ago and she seems happy although she was not able to have children. Pretty much all my other female friends who were single at 30 are still in fact single and struggling to find the right man. Does that mean it is better to get married in your late twenties? Well maybe if you find the right person and you are ready but if you don’t, clearly not. I was still too naive in my twenties and picking the wrong men. By 30 I’d learned my lesson and was ready to find the right man. Unfortunately my next relationship ended at 35. I found after 35 things get hard. Judgment is much better than in younger days but there are less suitable men left seeking commitment which means I anticipate ending up alone now unless my luck changes dramatically very soon. I think that is why we often encourage women to couple up at a younger age if they can as options do reduce as we age.

  4. 4

    There are so many variables both controllable and uncontrollable that impact a relationship. Studies like these might be good to observe general patterns but in no way can be applied to each individual circumstance.


    At the end of the day. If you choose your partner, and they choose you, for the RIGHT reasons. And you both work on your marriage. I think you have a good chance at it working. Doesn’t matter if you are in your 20, 30, 40 or 50+.

  5. 5

    The best men are available to you when you are in your 20s.

    But you are most likely an older and wiser version of yourself in your mid 30s so in general, I would pick mid 30s for the win (generally speaking).

    However, there are too many variables so I think you can’t make conclusive statements. Most people that I know mid to late 30s have been through at least one marriage and divorce (or very long term relationship and have had a kid or two).

    1. 5.1

      Yes, it is often a problem for women that the height of our attractiveness and fitness occurs while we are still only interested in men who are a-holes. Then, when we are finally mature enough to want men who actually make good husband material, they are already taken, or are looking for younger girls.

      I’m pretty lucky as far as looking young for my age, but that really only helps with the initial attraction. Overall, people’s reasons for choosing a life partner need to evolve as fast as society has been changing.

  6. 6

    Ever since my sister worked for a certain university research department and I found out how studies are run, I take them with a pinch of salt.   In most cases there are ways to massage or interpret the data to look a certain way.   
    As for the best age to get married, I really think it depends on the person.   I met my husband at 26, started seeing him at 28 and married him at 30.   We have now been married for 3 years.   I have no complaints about how it happened but if I were able to choose, I would probably have moved the timeline up by 2 or 3 years.   Then again, I got my first “real” job at 23 and stayed at the same job till 28 so by the time I started seeing my husband, I had been working for 5 years and was more “grown-up” than a 30 year old just finishing school.   This is why I say that it really depends on the person. For me, from an overall life perspective, I think the ideal age to get married is late 20s.   I find that it’s a double edge sword: the older you get, the better you come to know yourself but you also become set in your ways.   I feel that the late 20s are that golden period when you have somewhat discovered who you are as a person but are still able to mold yourself around someone else.   It also gives you a few carefree years to be silly together.   With close to a decade of work experience under my belt, I can advance my career fairly fast now with hard work + the right opportunities and I’m unlikely to give that up to quit my job on a whim and travel the world for 6 months with my hubby.   Perhaps the answer is that there’s no right answer.   Don’t get married at 22 and don’t wait till 39.   Between 25 and 35, depending what kind of person you are and if you’ve done your homework, you should be just fine.

  7. 7
    Karmic Equation

    Not that I want to add to the negative divorce stats, but if it’s true that most people divorce at least once, it might not be such a bad idea to marry young and then divorce young. So marrying in one’s 20s and then divorcing in one’s (late) 30s, like I did, let me have my “day in the sun” (e.g., wedding) and once divorced, I was still young enough to find new relationships without too much angst.

    OTOH, if most people who marry in their 30s rarely divorce, and you don’t believe in divorce (for religious reasons for example), then waiting to marry in your 30s would be best, as you should have a pretty good idea about who you are and what floats your boat.

    I think what most studies don’t address is at what age it would be best to enter an LTR that ends in marriage. Perhaps it’s better to find a your “final” serious bf when you’re 28, but then don’t marry until you’re both in your early 30s. In other words, dump whatever bf you have at 28 and  make sure your next boyfriend meets your husband criteria.

    I’m only half-joking.

  8. 8

    I have a friend who is 81 years old, was widowed 5 years ago and has now met a lovely man who is 5 years younger and who loves her lots. It doesn’t matter what age you are as long as your head is in the right place.

    If you think there are no good men out there or all the good ones are taken, you’ve already shot yourself in the foot and good luck finding anyone.


  9. 9

    I am 39, my boyfriend is 42. We marvel at the good luck we had to meet each other at a good time in each of our lives – he was separated for three years had managed to create a healthy and amicable relationship with her and her new partner, and I had started reading Evan’s blog! 😉 Seriously, I realize now just how unprepared I was to make any kind of major commitment in my past relationships because I simply didn’t have the maturity and self awareness to choose the right men. So in my experience timing means a lot more than the time in your life, in terms of both partners’ readiness for a serious relationship and the skills to make it work.

  10. 10
    Peter 51

    Have your children in your early 20’s then you can get on with your career without interruption (if you want a career). By your 40’s when you are reaching senior roles, you are free from disabling domestic commitments. The applies to men too. Most jobs, mos   t places nobody expects too much of you until your late 20s. You need experience to design part of a car.

    The farmers sons and daughters I went to school with married in their late teens. 17 for the girls, 19 for the boys. One the whole, they seem to have had better marriages than those who married university partners. Obviously, in a small community you know who you are making babies with (=marriage) even if you are 16. Everyone’s a fifth cousin.

    University is a place for acting out your fantasies for a few years. It is not a good place to assess someone.

  11. 11

    Late 20s for girls. That’s when you have endless options of quality men in their 30s available to you. And after you two get married, you have 3-4 years to enjoy life as a childless married couple not worrying about fertility issues. I personally would not take a risk of bearing a first child after age of 35.

  12. 12

    I’m 30 without a marriage in sight. I struggled to attract guys even when I was in my early to mid-20’s; from the other comments here, it sounds like things only get worse, not better, for women as they age. Welp, time to go drown my sorrows then…

  13. 13

    Is it about how old you  look or how old you actually  are?

  14. 14

    I’m 25 and don’t believe in rushing these things but if I got to know a guy and we’d been getting on well and dating for a couple of years, totally would get married in a heartbeat. I want to have kids as well eventually. I hope the universe pays out for me.

  15. 15

    I was married for 2 years and got divorced. Since then I was terrible with women and I had gay tendencies. I am divorced for 16 years and I am celibate. I was rejected since high school and college and I felt a loner. I am currently job hunting and helping my ailing mom at home. Nowadays, since I felt that it’s hard to remarry because of the baggage I got from my previous one which led me to 4 bankruptcies and financial problems-I have no kids-I would rather watch a porno flick or turn gay than dealing with today’s women who are demanding and arrogant because I approached to them and I wouldn’t trust them all

  16. 16

    Even my friends and other relatives were happily married and I felt sad and way behind and I’m pushing 50. I think American life sucks that I could move overseas if I want a relationship

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