Best Age for Marriage
Mark Regnerus takes to the WaPo Outlook section to argue in favor of marrying in one’s early 20s in order to garner various social, economic, and fertility advantages. Peter Suderman pushes back, contending that these aren’t very good reasons to get married and that people should get married and have kids whenever they want. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, who’s 22 and engaged, thinks Regnerus is providing a public service by pushing back against societal pressure to delay marriage until completing one’s education, getting established in one’s career, and so forth.
Having myself married for the first time weeks shy of my 40th birthday and traveling in circles where marrying in one’s thirties is rather normal, I’d say that it depends on one’s goals and the sheer timing of finding a compatible partner.
If you’re 22 and set on going to professional or graduate school, I’d delaying marriage until you’re finished with those endeavors and are ready to focus on your spouse. To be sure, some manage to do both, as my colleague Steven Taylor did. Indeed, if you’re able to balance your priorities right, it might be helpful to have someone there to provide emotional and financial support while you’re in school. Most people, though, will likely be poor students and/or poor spouses by trying to balance the two.
Certainly, if you want to have children, you’re likely better off starting in your 20s than in your 40s, as I have. Not only is conception easier and the risk of complications lower, you’ll have more energy. The advantages that normally accrue with age are money and wisdom/perspective.
Ultimately, though, Peter’s right: The key is to find the person you want to spend the rest of your life with and be emotionally ready to make the commitment. If you haven’t reached that state at 22, I wouldn’t advise marrying the one you’re with just because it’s time to get married. Conversely, if you’re 22 and have those things, I wouldn’t break it off because you haven’t reached that point on your checklist.
Photo by Flickr user steena under Creative Commons license.