Conventional wisdom has said that people who wait longer to get married are less likely to get divorced. Like, if you actually intimately know your future husband or wife you are less likely to discover five years later that they are just a bunch of children stacked on top of one another (emotionally, I mean).

But after University of Utah sociologist Nicholas Wolfinger analyzed data from the National Survey of Family Growth from 2006 to 2010, he concluded that there is actually such a thing as waiting too long—so now you have to worry about getting married in the sweet spot of relationship longevity.

Someone who gets married when they are 20-years-old is 50 percent more likely to get divorced than someone who gets married when they are 25, and each additional year you wait to marry reduces the odds of your getting divorced by about 11 percent—until you hit 32. Then, your odds start to go up.

Wolfinger writes that this seems to be a new trend:

This is a big change. To the best of my knowledge, it’s only recently that thirty-something marriage started to incur a higher divorce risk. It appears to be a trend that’s gradually developed over the past twenty years: a study based on 2002 data observed that the divorce risk for people who married in their thirties was flattening out, rather than continuing to decline through that decade of life as it previously had.

While Wolfinger doesn’t know why this is the case, he suspects it might have something to do with self-selection. In other words, people who wait so long to get married maybe aren’t suited to marriage, or they’ve married someone else who isn’t suited.

He also doesn’t know why the trend has changed.

“This is the $64,000 question,” he said in an interview with Slate. “I honestly don’t have a great explanation. What I know for certain is it has happened.”

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But for real, how seriously are we supposed to take this? Studies keep claiming bullshit indicators are the keys to lasting marriages, including the price of the engagement ring (don’t spend between $2,000-4,000), amount of individual pre-marriage wealth, the size and price of the wedding and the presence of the honeymoon. So, I don’t know, just live your life. We’re all going to die regardless of our marital status.


Contact the author at joanna@jezebel.com.

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