Getting married at this age increases the risk of divorce
Over the past year and a half, you may have had more ups and downs than usual in your marriage. But even before the pandemic started, the time you and your spouse spent together–whether you got married during your first year of college or not before your 40th birthday–can say a lot about your relationship. In fact, studies have shown that when you get married can actually determine your risk of divorce. For some couples, committing to each other at a certain age has ultimately led to the fall of their marriage. Read on to learn more about this divorce predictor.
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While when you get married doesn’t necessarily determine your happiness, research suggests that your age at marriage could cause problems afterward. In a 2013 study published in Couple and family psychology, Shelby B. Scott and his research team set out to find out what the main reasons for divorce were.
Data was collected from 52 people who were part of the Relationship Prevention and Improvement Program (PREP), which helped engaged couples improve their communication skills. The participants in this study were all divorced between one and 14 years after participating in PREP. Each person spent half an hour in an audio-recorded telephone interview detailing what led to the end of their marriage. They were given a list of common problems in a relationship and asked if they were “a major contributor to their divorce.” Their answers were either a “yes” or a “no”.
The results showed that people were reluctant to marry too young: 45% answered “yes” when asked if it had contributed to their divorce. At least one partner among the 61.1 percent of divorced couples in this study cited this as the reason for divorce. And for 23.7% of couples, both partners said getting married too young contributed to their breakups.
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Scott and his team found that participants who agreed that getting married too young led to divorce were on average 23.3 years old when they got married. These divorcees shared a few comments on the matter, saying they only knew their partner for a short time before making a lifelong commitment. Some believed that if they had dated their loved ones for longer, they would have had a better idea of the relationship and could “have made a more rational decision as to who to marry.”
On the other side of the coin, 29.2 was the average age of marriage for participants who said getting married young did not affect their divorce.
Over the years, many different researchers have explored how age and marriage may be related to divorce. In a 2015 study published by the Institute for Family Studies, a professor at the University of Utah Nicolas wolfinger used data from 2006 to 2010 and 2011 to 2013 from the National Family Growth Survey (NSFG), which collects information on marriage, divorce, etc., to conduct statistical studies on the family, health and fertility. There were over 10,000 respondents included in these two surveys.
Depending on the results, there might be benefits to getting married a little younger. Wolfinger found that throughout their twenties, people’s risk of divorce was actually lower. He also discovered that if you are married before age 32, every year before it makes a difference. “My analysis of the data shows that before the age of around 32, each additional year at the time of marriage reduces the odds of divorce by 11%,” he wrote.
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Wolfinger’s data concluded that when you hit your 30s and 40s, your chances of getting a divorce go up again. In fact, he found that for every year you marry after the age of 32, your risk of divorce can increase by more than 5%.
However, there may still be a grace period for your relationship. Wolfinger noted that the results of NSFG data show that people who marry between the ages of 28 and 32 are the least likely to divorce.
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