Is there such a thing as the perfect age to get married?
A study suggests there might be. And it's not in your 20s.
The curse of 32? According to University of Utah professor Nicholas Wolfinger, who analyzed data collected between 2006 and 2010 by the National Survey of Family Growth, the likelihood of your getting divorced is largely predicated on how old you were when you got married.
"Someone who marries at 25 is over 50% less likely to get divorced than is someone who weds at age 20," he concluded, acknowledging there is such a thing as getting married too young.
"Most youthful couples simply do not have the maturity, coping skills and social support it takes to make marriage work. In the face of routine marital problems, teens and young 20-somethings lack the wherewithal necessary for happy resolutions."
But while the importance of not rushing into marriage isn't necessarily news, Wolfinger found something surprising happens at around the 32-year-old mark:
The likelihood of divorce increases by 5% with each passing year.
Take it with a grain of salt: Studies like these provide telling insights into marriage trends, and how they differ for couples at various stages of their lives. It's also welcome relief to people in their 20s who might feel pressured to get married they don't necessarily need to start heading down the aisle anytime soon.
But the conclusions Wolfinger comes to about the relationship between age and marriage probably shouldn't be taken too literally.
For one thing, maturity and age aren't always as inextricably linked as such conclusions may suggest. After all, emotional maturity largely varies by individual: We all know someone who either "won't grow up" or is "wise beyond their years." That's not to mention the possible differences in maturity between the sexes. One 2013 British study found men reach emotional maturity at 43 years old, a whopping 11 years after women reach average emotional maturity age at 32.
Moreover, our generation is clearly in the process of redefining its relationship to the institution of marriage, with the average age of marriage steadily increasing — as of 2013, it's 27 for women and 29 for men, up from 23 and 26 for women and men, respectively, in 1990 — and many of us opting out of marriage altogether.
Even if you are looking to get married someday, there are a number of clear advantages to delaying saying "I do." For instance, according to a 2013 study of U.S. marriage rates, the average income of a college-educated woman who got married in her 30s was 56% higher than of a woman who got married before age 20. Focusing on your career development and financial success is a pretty strong incentive to delay marriage, 32-year mark be damned.
If nothing else, these most recent statistics suggest that perhaps our focus should be less on age and more on just whether or not we feel like we're ready to get married. After all, rushing into marriage is never a good idea — no matter how old you are.