Want to get married and stay married? Don’t rush to get hitched when you’re young — but don’t wait too long, either. Once you’re past your early 30s, the risk of divorce starts to creep up again, according to new analysis.
Nicholas Wolfinger, a sociologist at the University of Utah, looked at data from the National Survey of Family Growth and found that while the risk of divorce declines steadily from your teens into your late 20s — it starts to rise again somewhere in your 30s.
Once you reach the age of 32, the odds of getting a divorce increase by 5 percent each year.
As Wolfinger breaks it down on the Institute For Family Studies blog, “Those who tie the knot after their early thirties are now more likely to divorce than those who marry in their late 20s.”
Wolfinger writes that it’s “no mystery” why those who marry as teens face a higher risk of divorce: most of us don’t have the coping skills or maturity to deal with marriage in our teens or early 20s, he suggests — and marrying young correlates with lower educational attainment, which increases the risk for divorce regardless of age.
But why does waiting until you’re well into your 30s increase the odds? Shouldn’t you be better equipped to handle the stresses of marriage the older you get?
The researcher isn’t entirely sure but suggests it might have something to do with what he calls the “selection effect”: those who wait to wed may be the type of people who just aren’t cut out for marriage. Ouch.
“They delay marriage, often because they can’t find anyone willing to marry them,” Wolfinger explains in his blog. “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”
The Huffington Post reached out to Wolfinger for comment but he did not reply by the time of publication.
For those of you suddenly feeling like you just. can’t. win regardless of when you decide to marry, take heart: This is just a statistical analysis based on general trends and may not reflect your personal experience. And overall, the divorce rate in the U.S. continues to drop from its peak in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Phew.
For more on Wolfinger’s analysis, head here.
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