Getting Married at This Age Led 45 Percent of Couples to Divorce, Study Says
In a survey of divorced people, age turned out to be a significant predictor of splitting up.
Throughout the last year and a half, you might have had more ups and downs than usual in your marriage. But even before the pandemic started, the amount of time you and your spouse have been together—whether you tied the knot during your freshman year of college or not until after your 40th birthday—can say a lot about your relationship. In fact, studies have shown that when you get married may actually determine your risk for getting a divorce. For some couples, committing to each other around a certain age ultimately led to their marriages' downfall. Read on to find out more about this divorce predictor.
In a survey, 45 percent of divorced people cited marrying too young as a reason they split.
While when you get married doesn't necessarily determine your happiness, research suggests that your age at the wedding could cause issues down the line. In a 2013 study published in Couple and Family Psychology, Shelby B. Scott and her research team set out to discover what the top reasons for divorce were.
Data was collected from 52 individuals who were a part of the Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program (PREP), which helped engaged couples improve their communication skills. Participants of this study were all divorced between one to 14 years after participating in PREP. Each individual did a half-hour audio-recorded phone interview, detailing what led to the end of their marriages. They were given a list of common problems during a relationship and asked if those were "a major contributor to their divorce." Their responses were either a "yes" or "no."
Results showed that individuals had reservations about marrying too young: 45 percent responded "yes" when asked if this was a contributing factor to their divorce. At least one partner from the 61.1 percent of divorced couples in this study cited this as a reason for divorce. And for 23.7 percent of couples, both partners said that marrying too young contributed to their breakups.
The average age of marriage for these participants was 23.
Scott and her team found that participants who agreed that marrying too young led to divorce were an average age of 23.3 years old when they got married. These divorcees shared a few comments about the issue, reporting that they only knew their partners for a short period of time before making a lifelong commitment. Some believed that if they had dated their significant others for longer, they would have gotten a better sense of the relationship and been able to "make a more rational decision as to whom they should marry."
On the opposite side of the coin, 29.2 years old was the average age of marriage for participants who said that marrying young did not impact their divorce.
But another study found that getting married before 32 can decrease divorce risk.
Over the years, many different researchers have explored how age and marriage could be connected to divorce. In a 2015 study published by the Institute for Family Studies, University of Utah professor Nicholas Wolfinger used 2006 to 2010 and 2011 to 2013 data from the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG), which gathers information on marriage, divorce, and more, to do statistical studies on family, health, and fertility. There were more than 10,000 respondents included in both of these surveys.
According to the results, there could be some benefits to marrying a bit younger. Wolfinger found that throughout their twenties, people's risk for divorce was actually lower. He also found that if you're married before 32, every year before it makes a difference. "My data analysis shows that prior to age 32 or so, each additional year of age at marriage reduces the odds of divorce by 11 percent," he wrote.
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Your divorce risk goes up by 5 percent after your early thirties.
Wolfinger's data concluded that as you go into your thirties and forties, your chances of getting divorced rise again. In fact, he found that for every year you're married after the age of 32, your risk of divorce could go up by more than 5 percent.
There still may be a grace period for your relationship, however. Wolfinger noted that the results from the NSFG data show that people who get married between the ages of 28 and 32 are the least likely to get divorced.