He Said, She Said: Delaying Marriage

What is the best age to get married?


With the exception of Alec Baldwin, 54, and his 28-year-old bride Hilaria Thomas, this Sunday’s New York Times wedding section is filled with happy couples in their late twenties and early thirties.

It will come as a surprise to no one that marriage rates have steadily dropped over the past few decades in the United States. As a result of changing social mores and an unsteady economy, couples are waiting longer to tie the knot, or deciding against matrimony entirely. 

According to a December 2011 study conducted by the Pew Research Center, 51 percent of adults ages 18 or older are married, as compared to 72 percent of the same age group in 1960. The median age at first marriage, meanwhile, has steadily risen from 22.8 for men and 20.3 for women in 1960, to 28.7 for men and 26.5 for women in 2011.

The strongest drop in marriage rates can be seen in the 20-24 age group. In 1960, 60 percent of individuals in this age bracket were married, as compared to 14 percent in 2010. 

Some possible reasons to delay marriage may include pursuing higher education, placing an emphasis on finding a mate with steady employment, and feeling less pressure to conform to the expectation of marriage on young adults.

Regardless of the reasons why Americans are waiting longer to get married, there is evidence to show that waiting can lead to a healthier marriage. The likelihood of divorce drops with each year a woman waits to get married, and experts say incidences of domestic violence have decreased considerably over the past 30 years.

Concerned Parent July 05, 2012 at 01:25 PM
Marriage is a commitment which requires work. You need to be truly honest with yourself before stepping into this life-long relationship. IMO, these numbers have dropped because this generations of Americans have been given things too easily. They have no concept of what it takes to work at something and at times sacrifice those things they WANT to have versus NEED to have. Every person is different and each person entering into marriage needs to enter it in their own time.
Kathleen Gemmell July 05, 2012 at 09:39 PM
Thank you for this piece Ms. Dawson. While I have heard that the divorce rate decreases in couples who marry later, I was unaware that the domestic violence rate may drop as well. 'If' domestic violence can, in some cases, be triggered by lack of esteem, learned behavior, unresolved anger and peer influence, then it would follow that 'maturity' could allow for resolution of these dysfunctions.Gone are the days when a woman HAD to marry young for reasons of survival and norms...let's hope.
rex July 08, 2012 at 08:22 PM
Ms. Dawson, maybe don't blatantly ignore same-sex relationships/marriage? It's a bit offensive and close-minded.
Scott July 23, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Maybe do not blatantly ignore Transexual, bestial, necrophilic, midget, plushie, and wookie relationships/marriages? Its a bit offensive and closed minded. Have some consideration for all of us LGBTQRFHIJKLMNOP'S
dyke July 23, 2012 at 08:53 PM
Scott did you actually just place trans* relationships as the same category as bestiality and necrophilia? You clearly have no exposure to the lgbt community so how about instead of insulting it and the individuals who are a part of it, you stay out and maybe stop making the cis/hetero/white folks look ignorant and intolerant.


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