What is the Ideal Marriage Age?

robert_julia_blair_groberg_wedding

By Gabrielle.

Every once in awhile, family dinner conversation turns to the future. For example, Oscar might ask something like, “How old will June be when I’m 25?” And then you can see everyone start calculating their ages based on Oscar being 25 and trying to imagine what life will be like then. Or Maude might say something like, “Weren’t you 25 when you had me, Mom?” And then you can see everyone start imagining how old they will be if and when they become a parent. Perhaps Betty might ask something like, “How old were you when you became an uncle, Dad?” This is followed by the kids making guesses about which sibling will become a parent first and when that might happen. Or Olive might ask, “Were you really married at 21, Mom? That seems so young.” And I nod my head in agreement.

It seems so dang young to me, too! I’m sort of shocked when I think about it. I really and truly can’t imagine my kids marrying at that age. The whole idea seems mind-blowing to me. As a teen and young adult, I didn’t think much about what age I would marry at, but when when I pictured it, it was always late twenties — after I’d set up a successful career in New York. Maybe 28 or 29. (Gosh, I had a lot of confidence.)

That said, I have zero regrets about marrying at 21. I’ve felt lucky to have a partner all these years. It was like we got to learn to be adults together.

Then again, neither of us ever learned to live solo. We went from living at home to roommates to marriage. Some people would say we missed out on something essential; that we don’t know true independence (that’s probably true). Others would tell us we’re lucky we found each other early, when we weren’t set in our ways (that’s probably true, too).

Which makes me curious. What do you think is the ideal marriage age? Or, since everyone is different, what do you think is your ideal marriage age? Did you marry at just the right time? Do you wish you had been a little older? Maybe quite a bit older? Would you have liked to explore the world in your twenties? Or did marriage take a long time to find you and you wish it had come earlier? Maybe for you there’s no such thing as an ideal marriage age, because it turns out marriage is not for you.

And if you have kids, do you picture them marrying at a similar age as you did? Would you freak out if they told you they found the ONE and they’re ready to get married at 21? Do any of you have kids who are pretty sure they have no interest in ever marrying? Do your kids ever bring up this sort of topic? I would love to hear your thoughts!

P.S. — The wedding photo at top pictures my inlaws, Julia and Robert Blair. Which reminds me, do you know how old your parents were when they married? Or when they had you?

63 thoughts on “What is the Ideal Marriage Age?”

  1. I have no opinion on the “right” age to marry – I think today most people are ridiculously negative about getting married young like you did. As you say – you’ve had all that time together. How can you regret that?

    I got married in my late 30’s, whereas my parents and sisters had married much younger. All of them insisted marrying young was so much better, because you weren’t set in your ways and could better adjust to another person. I’m sure there’s some truth to that.

    But on the other hand, I think there are advantages the other way, too. Those same family members all talked about how HARD HARD HARD we would find the first year of marriage. Which wasn’t the case at all, and once I’d been married a while, I found myself kind of mystified about what they even meant. I eventually came to the conclusion that a lot of the “hard” they were talking about was simply their adjustment to living with another person not from their family of origin (beyond the college dorm experience). So I think there are advantages to being older, too, luckily for me anyway.

    1. I agree with you, Anna! I don’t think there’s a right way… It can be hard to adjust to married life as a young person or as an older person. I think it’s just different. Once I wanted to get married, nothing could’ve stopped me! I married my husband at 20 and I don’t regret that at all. We’ve had plenty of hard times and boy were our first years fiery! But that’s more of a personality issue than anything else.

      Working as a team, sometimes sacrificing your desires for a spouse’s, figuring out family goals and needs–all of that is challenging, no matter what age. But there is such sweetness in marriage, too. We hit 18 years a month ago and I sure do love my husband. Now more than ever.

    2. When I think of some of the hardest things in our early marriage, so much of it relates to money. We graduated from college and had our first baby almost the same week, so we had all these challenging years of trying to establish careers, finish graduate school, and get our babies here, and never enough dollars to go around.

      I’m sure it’s not always true, but I like to imagine that marrying and starting a family later in life means more financial stability right from the start.

      1. Yes! Took us 16 years and three kids with one on the way before I felt financially stable. Marriage wasn’t fun… just working to get through.

        Also our oldest is heading off to college and my husband keeps mentioning that he got married just three years post high school and can’t imagine in a million years that our son will be capable of being a husband in three years!

  2. For me the age we got married was perfect. I was 28. I’m just a fan of anyone that can make marriage work-it’s hard work but also really lovely/magical. I don’t really care what age you marry at if it’s right.

  3. I was 26 & my husband was 31 (by one day!) when we married & I think it was the perfect time. We live in Utah & that was ancient to get married around here, but looking back I’m so glad about the timing. We were both in our careers, our first year of marriage wasn’t traumatic like a lot of people talk about and we were both so happy to have found each other we were in bliss for a very long time. :)

  4. I married at age 25, a few years after we finished college. I definitely felt ready and not too young, although when I look back at our wedding photos, we definitely LOOK really young. :) We also had a fairly long engagement, 1.5 years, mostly the result of me heading to graduate school and 10 months spent living in different places (we got engaged right before I moved which helped with the separation and I was happy to have the experience of living by myself for the first time, knowing it had an end-date).

    Although I didn’t do a lot of international travel, I had a lot of adventures in college and my husband and I traveled a lot before we got married and before we had kids. So I felt like I’d seen a decent amount before I got married.

    My oldest son has told me he never wants to get married or have kids (he’s 9). He wants to travel the world and live in a cabin in the woods by himself! He’s pretty independent so who knows, maybe that’s exactly what he’ll do.

  5. I met my husband when I was 19 and he was 18 (10 months difference) but we didn’t date until two years later and we got married at 23 and 24. I look back now and wow, we were young!!! But we did not have children for seven years. We both went to graduate school and then he went to medical school and after we were stable emotionally and financially we thought we were ready. Twenty two years later we are happy as can be. But I would be worried if my children did that now. The world is different and finding jobs harder.

  6. julia g blair

    Well, I was 21. My husband was 23 and we graduated together the following June.
    I think my mother had turned 22 a couple of months before she married. I marvel when I think of how unprepared I was for married life and I’m very grateful that we
    both survived and really enjoyed being married students for much of decade #1.

    My mother and her mother were certain that a woman would not, could not, be fulfilled nor happy until she was married and had children. I’m grateful that things are changing, especially with more equal division of work between wife and husband. I knew some women who were “slaves” to their homes, husbands and children. My mother was not one of those “slaves” and neither am I.

  7. My mom, grandma and great grandma all were married at 20 and has their first baby at 22. I on the other hand went to college, traveled the world for my jobs and didn’t find love until 35. Married at 39 and first and only child at 42.

    I always wished I had gotten married younger (26 was my dream age) and been able to have more children. My husband and I are both from families with 6 kids. Marriage was definitely a challenge at our ages, husband was 38. We both owned our own homes and were used to living on our own. Those first few years of marriage were very rocky. We definitely have more developed careers and better finances being older.

  8. We started dating at 17 and 18 and got married at 23 and 24, which I now feel was rather young because we definitely had a lot to learn on how to be adults and how to be married! We had our daughter, who’s now 2, when we were 29 and 30, though, so it was nice to learn how to be married during that time sans kids, but of course, learning how to be married with a kid is another lesson to be learned;)

    1. Same ages with my husband and I on getting married and we also waited a decade to have kids! I feel like, for me personally, I needed that rock that a life partner brings so that I could be confident and strong as I figured out how to be an adult. Both if my sisters waited until their thirties to get married and that felt like the right choice to them. It’s such an individual thing! I wouldn’t have changed my timing for anything. I’m so glad I went through my twenties with my husband by my side.

  9. We got married at 26! Great age to get married. No regrets. I would love my kids to get married in their 20s. Then you build your life together. But I realize that it’s very personal. I have friends who married at 21 and friends who married at 40.

    1. I was 2 months shy of 30 and that was the perfect age for me. We also lived together before we were married and I would encourage my kids to do the same. We are pretty liberal around here :) I knew exactly what I was getting myself ‘into’. I knew too many people who separated because the had been too young when they married, felt like they missed out on so much etc.

  10. To my mind there is no ideal age and to be honest I wouldn’t care if my daughter married or didn’t. What I wouldn’t want her to do is marry because that is the path most people follow. My hope for her is that she gets to knows herself well before she marries, has figured out what she is passionate about, has explored the world, her own sexuality, and decides to commit to someone on her own terms.

    1. This is really beautifully said. As someone who happily did all of those things and then happily married on my own terms at 30, I want exactly the same for my kids and friends, should they wish to find partnership through marriage.

      Your daughter is lucky to have you!

      1. Love what you have to say Julie and wholly agree! Interesting, if you look at statistics (in Canada at least), heterosexual marriages are no longer the usual path. While it’s still the dominant narrative from our media, there are more and more people who are staying single, same-sex marriage, choosing common-in-law ect.

        I met my, now husband, at 24 and moved in with him right away (in hindsight, we both agree it was a pretty rash but joyous decision). After living together and apart to do various degrees and experiences for 6 years we got married. We’ve been married 6 years but together 12. With small children and no longer DINK’s (Double income, no kids) we are feeling the financial strain and challenges of “marriage”. But it is a season in our life and we are learning to love each others weakness and not just strengths. And of course, our babies are just the coolest so thankful that they have given us an opportunity to stretch and grow in different ways!

    2. I totally agree! You said well what I was hoping to say in my comments here. :)

      I don’t think there is an ideal age, either.

      My husband was 36, I was 35, and we were both at the right place in our lives, were ready for it, and it was a commitment we both wanted. And are still very happy with. :)

  11. I got married at 29-which for the SF Bay Area was probably on the younger side. We were living in Chicago (we had just moved their for my fiancee’s job) and someone I worked with asked if it was my first marriage! She couldn’t comprehend that I was marrying for the first time at almost 30. My husband and I dated for 5 years-so I definitely felt ready. My oldest is now 18 and I truly can’t imagine her being married in her early 20s-but I guess anything is possible. Selfishly I would like all of my kids to be married on the earlier side and have kids right away-but that would only be because I’ll be anxious to be a grandmother. Rationally, I want them to live their lives and make their own choices-and that may not include marriage or having children.

  12. I think the few years I spent in my mid twenties (after roommates before meeting my husband) was really valuable to me. I was lonely but it also allowed me to llearn my own likes and the quiet to hear my own voice. I went to lots of yoga classes, ate ice cream for dinner, dated, and spent weekend mornings in bed with a book. Even at the time it felt luxurious and indulgent; kinda like a nap in the middle of the day.

  13. I was 24. My husband is older and had already been divorced. We’ll have been married 8 years this August and I have no regrets. My younger sister got married when she was 23 and was divorced two years later. My older sister got married at 33 and is still (I assume!) happily married after 4/5 years (I can’t remember now.) I think it matters more to be with the right person and have the right attitude about marriage than it matters how old or young you are.

    My husband and I also talk about how mystified we are when other people talk about how relationships/marriages take “work.” Life is hard, for sure, especially dealing with money (and the lack of it!) but we have never found it “hard” to be together.

    1. I agree – my husband and I cannot relate when people say marriage is “hard” or “a lot of work”. There are tough times, compromise, and occasional irritations, but being together is never a chore.

    2. I agree! Before I got married my mother-in-law and other random people warned me that I was going to have to put a lot of work and effort into my marriage, because that’s just how marriage is. Five years into the marriage (and 8 years together) and we’ve had challenges to weather together but I’ve never once felt like my marriage is a lot of work to maintain.

      1. Lol. My husband and I used to be mystified when people said that too! “How could being with your favorite person ever be work?” we would say. Then…we had kids. The lack of sleep, massive workload, my hormones, his increased work schedule (down to one income) and figuring out how to be a parent DEFINITELY changed our marriage. All of a sudden we had to work at our relationship. We had to work to be kind, work to be patient and work to be husband and wife and not just mom and dad.

  14. The right age ->when the right person shows up! For my husband and I, that was very young, HS! He was 19, I was 18, and we’re going on 40 years this Nov. I think there is so much more to it than age however, like commitment, goals, determination, never saying the “D” word! (and I don’t mean damn) A stitch in time saves nine, in other words fix things before they grow to be unresolveable and realize most of the time what is making you crazy is the same thing that attracted you to that person in the first place.

    5 kids, 3 married so far, and frankly, our policy is get married as soon as you know it’s a good match, why wait?

    As far as parents, his were married at 23 and 16, my mother was married 5 times, sooo, who can say?

    1. Yup. I’m with you. I think I was typing the same time you were :) The right time is when the right person shows up and it’s a good match. And who can say when that will be?

  15. I was 24 and it was perfect for me. I was almost finished with college, had studied abroad, and served a mission. I feel grown-up, mature, and experienced enough to have a real sense of self and an understanding of commitment and yet still young. We’re coming up on our 21st wedding anniversary – and I’m so glad that essentially we got to “grow up” together!

    That said, I think it’s impossible to PLAN when you’ll get married. The right time to get married is when you’ve found the right person – and that is something we have very little control over. We can control our willingness to get married (attitude), and we can control how much we put ourselves in an environment where we are likely to meet a suitable and compatible mate, but other than that, falling in love and finding the right person is something that is “going to happen when it happens”.

  16. I agree with many others that there is no “right” age or answer to this. The best answer is the age when you fall in deeply and healthfully in love, be it 24 or 84.

  17. I find this topic really interesting purely because I was 22 and my husband was 27 when we got married and I think if my children came to me at the same age and said they were getting married, I wouldn’t be thrilled. Having said that, I’ve been married for 12 years to the love of my life and we would have gotten married eventually so did our ages really matter? Not sure…

  18. I feel like I got married at the perfect age for me. I met my husband when we were 25 and we got married when we were 28. To some extent I think one of the reasons I married the man I married was because we met each other at the right point in life. I think it benefits us that we had each had one other serious relationship before meeting each other. I know my first long term relationship was rather rocky, so when I met my husband it was like, “Ohhhh, THIS is how it is supposed to be!” I’m not sure if I would have recognized what a great thing we had if I was only 18 or 19 when we met. I think I would have taken it all for granted more. When we met we had also both been living alone for a couple of years. I think that was healthy for me, too, because it made me aware of how much I was able to enjoy my own company. I was really happy being single and not looking for a man to “complete me.” I was perfectly content to stay single unless I met someone who would make my life notably better: easier, more entertaining, etc. My husband did that for me (and I guess I did the same for him!) and so here we are.

    I took a Marriage and Family class in college and I remember the professor saying that the part of your brain responsible for critical thinking and decision making isn’t fully developed until you’re 25, and that statistically you’re more likely to stay married (in other words, choose a good partner) if you wait until at least 25 to settle down. That really stayed with me, although of course it was a coincidence that I just happened to meet my husband at 25.

  19. I definitely believe everyone is different – there’s no single age. For ME – well, I got married at 25. WAY too young. I thought I was ready emotionally because in every other way, I seemed ready. I was divorced at 30. I wish I would have waited until my 30s to get married, though it all worked out as it was supposed to and my partner now and I have been together almost 9 years . . . we’ll probably get married next year. I’m finally ready! haha!

    In terms of living on your own, I do believe it’s an experience not to be missed. It seems lonely from the outside but when you do it . . . you learn SO much about yourself! I did it for six years and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

  20. I was 23, my husband was 26. I don’t think there’s a right age, just the right time and the right person. Some lessons I’m glad my husband and I learned together. Other lessons I’m glad we learned before we met. Our first year was not highly contentious (nor have our subsequent years been!), but I do think marriage is effort. Not in a bad way, just in a contentious way. My husband and I joke that we should get extra credit years for our 4 calendar years since we’ve been handed a couple of extra challenges. ;) Either way, I don’t want to do life without him. He’s the best.

  21. I got married at 24. My husband told me when we started dating that noone should marry before they’ve dated for at least 5 years and should be at least 25! (Those were his ‘rules’). Well we did date for 5 years but I married a year younger (he was 26). We had our first son a year and a half later. We were definitely on the younger side for Seattle, both to get married and have children. I wouldn’t change much except I wish we would have traveled more before we had kids. Luckily, we’ll still be fairly young to hopefully travel more once the kids are grown. We travel with our children too, it is just a hope/ dream to be able to travel as a couple.

    Overall, I wouldn’t change anything, we’ve had a wonderful marriage and have 3 fabulous sons.

  22. I got married when me and my husband were both 25. We dated for 1 year, engaged for another 1 year. It does seem young to me now but I would have regertted waiting longer. We enjoyed 4 happy years of just us, moving around, living how we liked before starting a family. If we were older I wouldn’t have wanted to wait that long to begin having kids. I think it has worked out well!

  23. I met my husband at 21, and married him at 26. We both wanted to finish our schooling first. I would have liked to marry younger (24) and started having children earlier, but the school timing did not work. We’ve been married almost 16 years and together for 21 (half my life!) so I still feel like we grew up together.

  24. I got married at 20, almost 18 years ago, but waited until 25 (with a college degree and job) to have children. My husband is 6 years older. Both of our parents got married in their early twenties, and my parents have been married for 45 years and his were married for 44 before his dad died. His grandparents have been married for over 70 years now. I have a cousin who got married at 14 b/c she was pregnant, and is still happily married 60 some years later. So to me, early marriages are totally viable. :)
    All of this is to say that I got married when I did because I fell in love. I didn’t rush into it, we had a definite plan and vision, we had plenty of money, and I wasn’t pregnant. I certainly didn’t feel pressured to do it.
    Sometimes I think we forget that the freedom to choose to wait for marriage also means we have to freedom to choose to do it young. Every individual situation is different, and to me what makes a marriage work is commitment, patience, shared goals and vision but individual interests, and the willingness to make up after a fight. These characteristics depend on your personality and character, not your age.

  25. To my great surprise, I married at 22, just 3 weeks after I graduated from college. In Oklahoma, this was slightly late, but when we moved to DC and I began law school a few weeks later my class mates were shocked. I absolutely appreciate the risks in marrying early, but have really loved it. I have loved maturing together and having a partner and constant by my side. Marrying at any age has different risks and challenges, but really at its base depend on the people in the marriage (and faith). In short, it has been wonderful for me, but I think it can be truly wonderful at any age with the right people.

  26. I guess I’m going to stick out in this group. I am not married but I’ve been with my Partner for 10 years now and we have an amazing 2 year old daughter together. When I got pregnant (a pleasant surprise), we talked about getting married but realized we were only thinking of it because I was pregnant, not because of being in love. Marriage was never a goal for me or him before getting pregnant. Except for a few annoyances that came with not being married (buying a house, being called Mrs., constantly being asked, “WHEN ARE YOU GETTING MARRIED?) it’s been an ideal set-up for the 3 of us.

    That being said, I have nothing against marriage. My parents have been happily married for over 40 years, my brother & his wife for 10 and lot’s of friends who are very happy in their marriages and I think that’s great. I think it’s just not for everyone and that’s ok too. If my daughter decides someday she would like to get married, I’ll be there supporting her (as long as the person is worthy of her!).

  27. I was married at 24 and it worked for me. But I think the real indicator of readiness to marry isn’t age, it’s the maturity to commit. You can make it through just about anything with enough commitment to each other and marriage in general! And I’ve known many old-soul 18-year-olds who were ready for that kind of commitment…and many 40-somethings who were definitely not.

    TANGENT: I also I’ve never heard it suggested that living totally alone (even without roommates) is sometimes seen as a necessary prerequisite to marriage. It doesn’t really make sense to me, as living in society in a healthy way is an “interdependent” thing, where we learn to communicate and rely on others. Living with others (family, roommates, marriage, whatevs ) just seems like a natural way to develop and exercise those necessary skills…no? I mean, I like my alone time SO MUCH but am the worse for it when I get too much…

  28. I’ll be 23 this year, and I’m pretty confident marriage is not going to happen anytime in the immediate (aka next 3 years) future. I was raised in a community where getting married young was common, but by parents who are definitely more supportive of getting married after the age of 25. I think this was largely because my dad’s sister got married at 19 and ended up in a really bad marriage. My parents were 26 and 28 when they got married, so I’ve always thought that was a good age. But I also understand that everyone is different. For me, I think my ideal age would be 26-30. I don’t see myself wanting to get married in the next three years for a number of reasons, I’m currently single, but I also want several kids, so I’d prefer not to wait TOO long. But it’ll also depend on who falls into my life and when they do so. I’m not worried about it, and if I reach 30 and I haven’t found the right person yet, that’ll be okay too (although I might start considering alternative options for having kids once I hit about 35).

  29. I’ve been thinking about this topic lately. I as 21 as well and have been happily married for 20 years. The reason I’ve been thinking about it those is because we’ve received an increase of wedding invitations from 19/20 year old girls that we’ve known and I’ve been wondering if there has been a rise of marriages in that age group since the LDS church has changed their age requirement to serve a mission. If the mentality still is I’m not going on a mission so I guess I need to get married still exists but now it’s at a younger age…

  30. My husband and I married at age 25. I don’t know that my age mattered, but my maturity to be in a relationship (which to be honest was lacking, but somehow my husband hung on, thank goodness, and now we’ve been married 27 years).

    My oldest daughter is about to turn 24, and while I think she has found the guy she is going to marry, they don’t seem to be in much of a hurry. She is still finishing school (one more year), and then they’ll figure things out. It will be right for them.

    My middle daughter just turned 19, has been dating her boyfriend since she turned 18, and they already know they will marry. And I’m okay with it because they seem good together, committed to each other and marriage. They will probably wait until they are actually 20 and 21, but I am okay with this. It is right for them.

    Time will only tell about the marrying age for my youngest. She is 17 and has never dated. I expect she will concentrate on her education and career. But who knows?

    My mom married my dad when she was 18, he was 21. Seems CRAZY to me. But 54 years later they are still going strong!

    Like many others, I think you marry when you meet the right person and you feel ready, and that’s different for everyone.

  31. I think that the perfect age depends on so much – peer group, education level etc. (I was in grad school until I was 28 and was very dedicated to my studies). I do feel that it is beneficial to live on your own for some significant amount of time before inter-linking your life with someone else. If you go right from parent to spouse, you never really get to see who “you” are. At the end of life, many women end up on their own for the very first time as widows, and find it to be hard to figure out how to do things on their own (the same could be said for men, however husbands tend to die before their wives). I just think it is easier to learn who you are and how to function on your own when you are young, rather than at the other end of life,

  32. Growing up, I thought I’d get married by 25. When I was 25, I calculated that I could still meet the love of my live and start a family by 30. Now as I approach 40 as a single person, I’ve been thinking a lot about marriage as a component of my life. I’m so thankful I didn’t rush into a marriage, and while there are moments that I would like to have a partner by my side, I think I have finally left behind the social pressure to marry. When I see other unmarried women, I often want to ask about their decisions and choices to be single, but then I don’t because I don’t want to contribute to the social pressure of marriage!

  33. I was 27 when I got married. At the time I felt old. Looking back, I think 27 is a perfect age to get married. My only regret is that I didn’t make the most of my early 20’s when I was single and travel, maybe even live in another country, explore different hobbies, etc.

  34. I was 22 and my husband was 24. I’m not sure why we were in such a hurry at the time but it sure was a great idea. What a ride we have been on – 25 years! We had our first child when I was 33! If my boys said they found their true love in their 20s, I would tell them to go for it. My advice would be to not have a big fat Greek wedding. I would say keep it intimate then have a big party after you see the world together.

  35. I was 23 and my husband was 25. We’d been basically living together since we had met 5 years earlier except for a short long distance stint. It was not really an adjustment for us to be newly married. It did change how others viewed us though. Girlfriend/boyfriend is viewed very differently than husband/wife.

    The hardest year of our marriage was probably the first year after our oldest was born. Sleep deprivation, PPD, adjusting from a career to staying at home and struggling with self-worth, new parenthood and the uncertainty there were all very challenging. That said, I was terrified for the first year after our twins were born and it hasn’t been too bad at all.

    My grandmother and mother were both married at 19. My grandparents remained married and my mother was divorced from my father about 7 years later, a little after I was 2. So, who knows? I think it’s more about finding the right person and having a true partner who you can be mad at but still work to a compromise, still be on the same team, no matter what.

  36. I would have loved to marry my dear partner with whom we have a little son who will become three years in August, but sadly he died 12 of December last year of an heart attach and our future plans won’t be what we had imagined..

  37. I was 20 and my husband was 24. I never expected to get married so young, I always assumed I would get married but never put much thought into it. It’s been 10 1/2 years and I have not regretted it at all. I graduated college at 21 and had my first child 4 months later. The hardest thing really, is relating to those at work. I have more similar experiences with those that are 10-15 years my elder (so they are in more senior roles) instead of my peers.

    My parents were 21 & 23, and my in-laws (who just celebrated 50 years) were both 24.

  38. I’m learning so much about your readers through their responses. So many young (to me) mothers, although I guess not really. I married at 32, just a few months shy of 33. I began dating my husband a few months after I ended a very long relationship (10+ years) with another man. While I wasn’t exactly “alone”, I did experience single life – the travel, the ability to focus on my career, the fun nights out with girlfriends, spending an afternoon reading a book, making plans at the last minute, the freedom that comes from being in the city in your 20’s.

    I’d say the benefit of being relatively older when I got married and had kids is that I knew myself and what kind of relationship I wanted immediately, and when I met my husband it didn’t take us long to figure out we were meant to be. The other is financial. We both have strong, steady careers and we started our marriage off on a solid footing. My parents, who married and had kids much younger, often marvel at our ability to afford the life we have, but I say, “Mom, I am 9 years older than when you had your babies”.

    However, my husband and I often mourn some of the “lost time” – we wish we had known each other when we were younger. We wish we were closer to each other’s friends, especially our college pals who we only see a few times a year. We wish we had been each other’s date at a particularly spectacular wedding, we wish we had been there for each other. We wish we had the opportunity to start a family earlier, when there was less time pressure. We look forward to the rest of our lives together, but we wish our together had started sooner.

  39. This was something that was discussed quite a bit at our house as I grew up too- I think, because my mother did marry quite young. She was 20 and my father was 26. And they have a very loving, strong and stable marriage and always have, but it was always very clear to me that marrying that young did mean there were challenges, and she was always very adamant that she was glad they waited five years to have kids, so she could grow up more and be able to experience different things like travel. So, I think you can meet the right person and marriage can be right, but whether you marry older or younger there are always the roads not taken, and perhaps that is important to consider too.

    I will also add, I got married at 27, which as a kid seemed very old to get married but which was actually great. I think the stability of finances and the fact that we’d both been able to do a lot independently really helped make our first year of marriage pretty easy. And it had every sign of not being easy because I was diagnosed with Diabetes I a month or so before our marriage- right after I had quit my job, anticipating moving after our wedding. Struggling with healthy and trying to get a new job should have been (and was) stressful but, for us, I think the extra maturity of a few years really helped.

  40. My parents were 36 and 28 when they got married, and my mom was 30 when they had my brother, and dad was 40 when they had me.

    They are getting frustrated now that my brother and I are both in our mid to late 30s and have not found significant others or given them grandbabies. We both love kids and want to find someone, but haven’t found the right person yet. My brother thought he had, but she didn’t want kids, and that was a deal-breaker for him. I moved to a new city and don’t know too many people, and the few people I have gone on dates with turned out to be creepy, which has kind of soured the local dating world for me. This place has a very “small town” feel, and most of the good guys seem to be taken, having been snatched up in highschool or university.

  41. There is no magic number, and I really dislike that I feel ashamed when I tell people I was only 20, because I have no reason to be. I didn’t miss out on anything, at least I don’t feel that way. We had lots of world travel, moved around the country, and lived in China. We grew into adulthood together, we learned to manage on very little income together, and life has been so so good. We didn’t have our first child for 5 years, and that I think was so great. We managed to live only on my husband’s income primarily for those first years (and by income it was only a graduate student stipend, and in very expensive places) and I save up my income. That helped us travel, and when I had our first baby it made it easy for me to stay home that last year of graduate school. I wouldn’t change a thing. My husband even says being married through grad school made it easier, even though his colleagues thought he was crazy. It helped get through the years of study having a stable life at home rather than maneuvering through the dating and social scene.

  42. My husband and I married too young. 19 and 18. I had my first kid at 20 and my fourth at 26. We’ve been married almost 20 years now. We’ve taught our kids to not do what we did, give it a few more years, yes we made it and happily, but it sure wasn’t due to our youth! Ha! I think early to mid twenties is a good time. Yes there were hard, poor times, but I think that struggling together helped us become stronger as a couple. We really came into adulthood together, so we were on the same page for parenting and running a house. No preconceived notions about anything for us! HA! True I never lived alone, family to roommates, to married, but I don’t feel I missed out on anything. In 5 short years our youngest will be off into the world and I’ll only be 44! It’s pretty exciting stuff:)

  43. I met my husband when I was 22 and he was 24 and we dated for 5 1/2 years before getting married at 27 and 29. We knew we’d marry each other within our first year together, but I left for grad school less than a year after we started dating and we spent 2 years in different states. After grad school we moved in together, started new jobs, bought a house, and got a dog–all before we tied the knot. Our first child was born less than a year after we married. [Fun fact: when I asked my now-husband if he didn’t want to wait a little while to enjoy one another as a married couple before having kids, his response was “haven’t we spent enough time alone together by now??” Clearly he was ready for parenthood!]

    I always envisioned getting married in my early thirties, so even at 27 I felt really young to be taking that step. That said, I’d already had plenty of great experience living on my own and being independent, largely because of the long distance portion of our relationship. I think things worked out really well, and wouldn’t change a thing.

  44. I feel like the right age depends on the amount of time the individual has lived independently in that they should have been independent for at least 5 years. For those who don’t choose college and go outing the world and live on their own after high school, their mid 20’s might be right. For those who go to college it might be late 20’s or early30’s. I have friends who, like you, never lived independently. Now when they are single – male or female – by divorce or death of a partner – at age 60, they are struggling because they have never lived alone or managed a household or even life in general, on their own!

  45. Gosh, these comments are fascinating! Early 20s sounds very young to me, but I also consider people very lucky if they feel confident they’re with the right person at that age.

    As I get older, I worry that I may not have the luxury of time to really test a relationship before committing to it. I mean, I was in a 4 year relationship that was very successful until the last 6 months, and now I’m worried that I may not have 4+ years to work with again. I’d like to have kids someday, but I’d also like to be sure to be sure that I become a parent with the right person. But how can you be sure, without the test of time?

    I appreciate that I’m not under a lot of pressure in terms of marriage. I live in Ireland, I’m 26, and I know very few people in that age group who are married. And I don’t think my friend and family groups are an exception either; it just seems like no one is any rush to marry. The people I know who are married are all 30+.

    I’d love to know if you’ve noticed a difference in marriage age between the US and France?

  46. Heather Holland

    I got married (for the first time) at 19 and had my first child 9 months later and it was all definitely waaaay too young for me. I had no idea who I was or what I wanted from life, and I changed so much in those first five-six years of marriage that I no longer felt comfortable or safe with my husband. (There were verbal abuse and other issues, but that’s a different part of the story…) I was well into family life before realizing just how much I felt I’d missed out on as far as personal growth and financial independence, etc.

    Having said that… I think that were it not for some massive issues in our marriage, it could have worked out. My parents married when my mom was 20 and my dad was 18 and they have a solid, happy marriage 46 years later.

    So, there’s part of me that thinks 25+ is the best age to get married (like, make sure your brain is fully developed before making that decision), but more than that, I tell my kids to be really careful about how long/how well they know the person they’re marrying (at least a year). I just think the “get married when you’re really young after a really fast engagement” script that is pretty common here in LDS Utah causes SO much damage, so many marriages with rickety foundations.

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