It used to be that tying the knot in your early 20s was the norm. But now, with more and more couples choosing to wait to get married, it begs a certain question: Are they on to something? Is there a best age to get married — and is it in your 30s?
Research shows that waiting to wed gives you the best chance of marital success. That's because, psychotherapist and relationship coach Toni Coleman explains, "as we move through developmental stages, we gain self-awareness and new experiences that teach us about ourselves and help us to understand what really matters to us and makes us happy. The biggest problem those who marry young face is that as they grow they grow apart, and find they want different things then they did when they were younger."
Lesli Doares, marriage coach and author Blueprint For a Lasting Marriage, agrees that there is truth to the idea that waiting longer to wed can lead to a lasting union. "However, there is a point of diminishing returns," she warns. "If you wait too long, you might be inclined to settle for a less-than-ideal partner. Or, you may also become so set in your ways it becomes difficult to make room for your spouse's way of doing things."
So, with that in mind, is there an ideal age to tie the knot? Doares and Coleman believe that while the answer will vary from person to person, generally, the magic age is 25 and older. Coleman says 25 years old is a maturity milestone, while Doares believes that our late 20s are the time when we've attained a clearer sense of who we are and what we want. "And that makes it easier to find a compatible partner," she points out.
But because everyone is different, our experts recommend considering milestones rather than years when it comes to determining whether you've reached the ideal age to marry.
"Reaching certain milestones can be helpful for having a successful marriage," Doares says. Those include living on your own, as well as defining the career path you'd like to take, even if you're not quite on it yet.
There are emotional milestones you should hit, too. "Knowing who you are as a person and having dealt with any emotional wounds allows you to marry as a healthy individual," says Doares. "This may be the most critical milestone and it is missed by many people. It also isn't age dependent — some people get clear early in life and others never do."
Lastly, if you tied the knot (or are considering tying the knot) young, your marriage is hardly doomed. "In some ways, people who marry young have more flexibility than those who marry later in life," says Doares. "One of the best things they can do is put off having children. It is this, rather than early marriage, that creates a lot of the pressures and challenges." What's more, says Coleman, is it's important for young couples need to get on the same page. "Their success or failure will hinge on being able to stay connected and on the same path — even as their needs, wants and priorities might shift and change," she says.