Study Says People Who Marry After A Certain Age Are Most Likely To Get Divorced

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couple getting engaged

People are often encouraged to wait until they get older to marry. Countless number of parents asked, "Why can't you wait a while? Why do you want to rush it?"

The older, the better is a fairly common philosophy, as it was believed that the relationship between age at marriage and divorce risk was almost always linear — the older you were when you got married, the less chance there would be that you'd get divorced.

But data suggests that those who marry after their early thirties are actually more likely to divorce than those who marry in their late twenties.

Nicholas H Wolfinger, a sociologist at the University of Utah, concluded that there's actually such a thing as waiting too long, as well as a sweet spot age for relationship longevity.

According to his findings, someone who gets married when they're 20 years old is 50% more likely to get divorced than someone who gets married when they're 25.

Each additional year you wait to get married reduces the odds of getting divorced by about 11 percent — until you hit 32, and then the trouble starts.

If you get married over the age of 32, your odds of getting divorced start to go up.

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No, it hasn't always been this way.

Wolfinger says, "This is a big change ... 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."

So, does the experience of staying unmarried well past the age of 30 somehow make people unfit for lasting marriage?

If you've had many boyfriends or girlfriends, your exes might interfere with your marriage and may tempt you with being unfaithful.

If you've had children with one or more of your exes, there could be major baby mama drama.

"Having multiple sex partners prior to marriage significantly increases the chances of getting divorced," says Wolfinger.

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But this still doesn't explain why thirty-something marriages now have higher divorce rates than do unions formed in late twenties.

Wolfinger has another theory.

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"My money is on a selection effect: the kinds of people who wait until their thirties to get married may be the kinds of people who are predisposed toward doing well in their marriages."

"For instance," he continues, "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."

It could be that some of the thirty-somethings who would've been good marriage material — not congenitally cantankerous — are perfectly happy being single, or living with a partner out of wedlock.

All they know for sure is that people who marry in their thirties are at a greater risk of divorce than people who wed in their late twenties.

As if you didn't have enough things to worry about.

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Christine Schoenwald is a writer, performer, and teacher who loves writing and performing personal narratives. She's had pieces in The Los Angeles Times, Salon, Woman's Day, Purple Clover, Bustle, and is a regular contributor to Ravishly and YourTango. Check out her website or her Facebook page.