The New Marriage Rule: Age Matters

We doubt you were shocked when Avril Lavigne recently announced she was splitting from her husband of three years. But while it’s tempting to assume the cause was her bratty persona or rocker lifestyle, comments from her friends suggested that something more universal was at play: She was only 21 when she tied the knot and later told pals that she realized she’d been too young to make such a life-altering decision. Could fellow young celebrity divorcées Reese Witherspoon, Kate Hudson, and Britney Spears have also hit the same age-related issue?

We doubt you were shocked when Avril Lavigne recently announced she was splitting from her husband of three years. But while it’s tempting to assume the cause was her bratty persona or rocker lifestyle, comments from her friends suggested that something more universal was at play: She was only 21 when she tied the knot and later told pals that she realized she’d been too young to make such a life-altering decision. Could fellow young celebrity divorcées Reese Witherspoon, Kate Hudson, and Britney Spears have also hit the same age-related issue?

young couple

The Magic Number
There are practical reasons for the mid-20s dividing line, and most of them boil down to two biggies: education and money. Turns out, the more years of higher education a woman has under her belt on her wedding day, the lower the chances that she’ll get divorced…and by 25, you’re more likely to have earned a degree or two. “Educated women tend to be more confident about who they are and less willing to settle for a man who doesn’t meet their standards,” explains Terri Orbuch, PhD, author of Five Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage From Good to Great.

 

Odds are that by 25 you’re also supporting yourself, so there’s less incentive for you to rush into marriage because you’re seeking financial security from him.

But the marriage-related benefits of working and having money of your own go beyond feeling secure, says Pepper Schwartz, PhD, author of Finding Your Perfect Match. Learning to budget your cash carefully when you’re single will help you avoid financial problems—one of the main causes of couple fights—for the rest of your life. And juggling responsibilities, dealing with differing personalities, and resolving conflicts on the job force you to develop skills that are necessary for maintaining long-term love.

Knowing the Real You
At 25, you’ve had time for some crucial life experiences, including a relationship or two that may have improved your Mr. Right radar. “You’ve probably dated enough to have a better idea of what you don’t want in a man, which makes it easier to know what you can live with and can’t live without,” says Orbuch.

Perhaps the most important aspect of waiting is that you’ll know what your goals and values really are, says Paul Coleman, PsyD, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Intimacy. While you don’t want to marry someone just like you, marriage is a lot easier if you two share a similar outlook on life.

Twenty-four and already married to the man of your dreams? Don’t worry: Many young marriages survive. But given the choice, you might consider putting off the big day until your mid-20s or later.


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