The best age to marry is when you meet the right person – editorial responding to study that says if you marry past 30 your marriage is doomed
A study came out about a week ago that said if you marry in your early 30s, your marriage was likely to end in divorce. I don’t recall the study mentioning first marriages that occur past one’s mid 30s.
I was going to write a blog post pointing out some of the issues I have with that study, but just the other day I came across this editorial, which raises some of the same points I was going to.
(Link): The best age to marry is when you meet the right person by Lisa Bonos
- July 24, 2015
- As you’ve probably read, we now know the (Link): “best age” to get married: There’s a low risk of divorce when tying the knot at 28 to 32, not too young and not all that old, either. Slate called it (Link): the Goldilocks Theory of Marriage. Time.com declared: (Link): Math Says This Is the Perfect Age to Get Married.
- So if you married your sweetheart in that sweet spot: Congratulations. I wish you a lifetime of statistically probable happiness. But if you’re single, younger than 28 or older than 32, and want to marry someday: Pay little attention to that chart.
- Age isn’t the only thing that determines marital happiness. I imagine that marrying at the “right” time — and picking the wrong person — could also increase your chances of divorce.
- You can’t plot the path of your life ahead of time, as if it were a chart waiting for you to fill in the data points — especially when those life events depend on other people.
- You can decide to move somewhere by a certain age, sure, or save up a certain amount of money to buy a house or a car months or years in the future. But you can’t decide ahead of time exactly when you will marry, have a child or make a certain amount of money.
- There are other people or factors involved: potential partners, fertility fluctuation, employers, the economy at large. I don’t have a new study here to back me up, but in my experience — not as a sociologist or economist, but as a person — trying to control all that can make you crazy.
- These kinds of news stories, on top of cultural expectations that a person “should” marry and settle down by a certain age, all tell singles that don’t fit into these graphs: You’re doing it wrong. You’re doomed. But dating as if you must (Link): be married by age 32 — or whatever your self-imposed “deadline” is — can be pretty miserable and unproductive.
- In my experience, deadline-dating has looked like this: First dates asking me about my five-year plan or how large a family I want.
- When I got these questions in my early 20s, like most recent college graduates, I barely had a five-month plan, let alone a picture of what my life might look like in my late 20s, 30s and beyond. I knew, even at that young age, that no matter how many plans you make, life has a way of blowing them up. And being on early dates that are essentially spouse interviews are fun for no one.
- Hey, how about we talk about what our lives are like now before projecting into the future? Sounds like a better, and much saner, place to start.
- In her recent book “The Real Thing: Lessons on Love and Life from a Wedding Reporter’s Notebook,” my Washington Post colleague Ellen McCarthy has written about her own panic at being 30 and unmarried. She’d wake at 3 a.m. worrying: “What if it never happens? What if I don’t find the right guy? What if it happens too late?”
- “Most of all, I worried that all this incessant worrying would cloud my judgment,” (Link): McCarthy writes. “I didn’t want to marry someone I wasn’t in love with just because my eggs were creeping toward their ‘past due’ date.” So she froze some eggs and immediately relaxed: “The night terrors eased,” she writes. “Dating became (kind of) fun.”
- McCarthy married the guy she was dating when she froze those eggs, and they now have two beautiful children.
- I’d rather focus on her story — and those of others who haven’t found the love of their life but do love their lives — than fear-mongering data. So my takeaway for singles reading these studies is: If you want to tie the knot, the best age to get married is when you meet the right person, and both of you are eager to marry each other.