When You May be Too Old for Marriage

Divorce chartIt is possible to be too old for marriage, according to a new analysis put out by Nicholas H. Wolfinger, professor of Family and Consumer Studies and Adjunct Professor of Sociology at the University of Utah. He finds that past age 32, the odds of divorce increase by five percent per year. After adjusting for a variety of social and demographic differences between survey respondents Wolfinger finds that thirty-something marriage yields a higher divorce rate even after controlling for respondents’ sex, race, family structure of origin, age at the time of the survey, education, religious tradition, religious attendance, and sexual history, as well as the size of the metropolitan area that they live in.

He writes:

Does the experience of staying unmarried well past the age of 30 somehow make people unfit for a lasting marriage? It’s possible to envision a scenario where this might be the case, particularly in the form of a complicated relationship history. If you’ve had many boyfriends or girlfriends, your exes might play havoc with your marriage. They may offer the temptation of adultery. If you’ve had children with one or more of your exes, there could be “baby mama drama.” Indeed, having multiple sexual partners prior to marriage significantly increases the chances of getting divorced. Be that as it may, the number of prior sexual partners NSFG respondents had does not explain the relationship between age at marriage and marital stability. This result suggests that the mere experience of waiting past your early thirties to get married—a so-called “direct effect”—cannot explain why thirty-something marriages now have higher divorce rates than do unions formed in the late twenties.

He continues:

Instead, my money is on a selection effect: the kinds of people who wait till their thirties to get married may be the kinds of people who aren’t predisposed toward doing well in their marriages. For instance, some people seem to be congenitally cantankerous. Such people naturally have trouble with interpersonal relationships. Consequently they delay marriage, often because they can’t find anyone willing to marry them. When they do tie the knot, their marriages are automatically at high risk for divorce. More generally, perhaps people who marry later face a pool of potential spouses that has been winnowed down to exclude the individuals most predisposed to succeed at matrimony.

Wolfinger breaks his findings down by age in a chart (see below), making it clear that optimal age to get married falls sometime between ages 20-29.

Divorce table

Read more: The Perfect Weight for Marriage

Author: Lilac Blue

Lilac Blue is writes about femininity, love and family in a world that has been drastically altered by industrialization, secularism, misandry and misogyny.

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