The second question in today’s Boundless Answers is from a reader whose dad thinks he should wait until his late twenties to get married.
I’m hearing more and more about parents making this kind of recommendation. Some, like the one in this question, married later in life and see their path as one worth following. Others married early and realized later that if they had waited they could have started with more money and more maturity.
The difficult thing about this hypothesis is that while more money and maturity can make for a better marriage, marriage is often the reason that men mature and make more money. It’s one of those chicken or the egg things.
It’s true that people who marry before 22 are statistically at a greater risk of divorce, but every year you delay marriage doesn’t continuously lower your risk. In fact, Dr. Norval Glenn, a researcher at the University of Texas, found that people who marry after 27 tend to have a drop in marital satisfaction similar to those who marry before 22 (making marriage between 23 and 27 something of a sweetspot).
On behalf of the National Fatherhood Initiative, Dr. Glenn presented his research in “With This Ring … A National Survey on Marriage in America.” In that report, he writes:
Living alone for many years may tend to make persons “set in their ways” and thus impede their adjustment to marriage, or having a succession of low-commitment relationships, with or without cohabitation, may make it harder for persons to commit to marriage. Marrying later than most of one’s age mates gives a person a more limited selection of potential spouses to choose from and may lessen the chances of a good marital match.
I don’t make this observation to discourage people who are already over 27, but to encourage people who already have good options for marriage in their early twenties not to wait for an arbitrary later age.
As a closing note, I still remember a dinner I had with Dr. Al Mohler in which he pointed out that while the first few years for a couple who marries young can be tight financially and entail a lot of growing up quickly, they are also the years many couples look back on with the greatest fondness. While many would prefer to put off marriage until they’ve grown up and found themselves, Mohler sees much value in the path in which couples grow up and find themselves … together.