Getting married when you’re too young could result in divorce, of course. But waiting too long—and it’s not nearly as long as you might think—could be just as problematic. Newer research shows that divorce trends in America are changing. But can your marriage really be at risk before it even begins?
At least wait until your brain stops growing
“There is a certain maturity level that a person reaches where they will likely succeed in their marriage, and it usually happens after age 25,” says Alicia Taverner, owner of Rancho Counseling. “In my practice, I see couples who are on the verge of divorce . . .they married before they found themselves and before they had the experiences that come with the ‘singledom’ of your 20s.”
From a scientific standpoint, the frontal lobe is the last part of the brain to mature, and that maturity can happen as late as age 25 or even 30. Life decisions made prior to age 25 can be problematic because they’re made without a fully developed ability to reconcile moral and ethical behavior.
In other words, teen and very young marriages are typically doomed to fail. Statistically, an individual who marries at age 25 is more than 50 percent less likely to get divorced than is someone who marries at age 20.
“The late 20s and early 30s are when people’s professional careers are coming into play and finances can be worked out,” says Kemie King of King Lindsey, P.A. law firm in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “It’s the age where ‘love’ is less idealistic and people are a little more realistic about their expectations.”
Don’t wait too long
Couples in their 30s are not only more mature, but they are also usually more educated and tend to have a more secure economic foundation. (Money troubles can be a major divorce trigger.) A study for the Institute for Family Studies looked at data (2006-2010) from the National Survey of Family Growth and found, not surprisingly, that prior to age 32, each additional year of age at marriage reduces the odds of divorce by 11 percent.
However—and this differs from previous findings—the odds of divorce after age 32 or so increase by five percent per year.
Single too long?
Wolfinger’s data only tracks first marriages to the age of 45, so perhaps chances aren’t as dire as they seem for those who marry later in life. And our increasing lifespans are creating new possibilities (and dangers) for marriages in general. But a person’s general temperament may also play a role. “The kinds of people who wait till their 30s to get married may be the kinds of people who aren’t predisposed toward doing well in their marriages,” he conjectures. “Consequently, they delay marriage, often because they can’t find anyone willing to marry them.”
That might seem harsh, but others have described this possible link between genetics and divorce as well. “When they do tie the knot their marriages are automatically at high risk for divorce,” says Wolfinger.
More generally, however, he notes the Darwinian element at play, as people who marry later face slim pickings in “a pool of potential spouses that has been winnowed down to exclude the individuals most predisposed to succeed at matrimony.”
Of course, all the data and the doomsayers in the world could easily be wrong, and love is love no matter how old—or young—you are. “No two people are the same,” says Anderson, “and I wouldn’t want a couple to lose one another just because they don’t think they are the right age.”
Credits: Avvo Stories Blog