W. Brad Wilcox | Washington Post | Full article: here
These days, 20something marriage has gotten a reputation for being a bad idea. That’s partly because parents, peers, and the popular culture encourage young adults to treat their twenties as a decade for exploration and getting one’s ducks in a row, not for settling down. In the immortal words of Jay-Z, “Thirty’s the new twenty.”
Indeed, the median age-at-first marriage has climbed to nearly 30 for today’s young adults, up from about 22 in 1970. Of course, there’s an upside to that. As my coauthors and I report in Knot Yet: the Benefits and Costs of Delayed Marriage in America, women who put off marriage and starting a family earn markedly more money than their peers who marry earlier.
But if you’d like to maximize your marital happiness, your odds of having a couple of kids, and of forging common memories and family traditions, you might not want to delay marriage if the right person presents his or herself in your mid-to-late 20s. A University of Texas study found the highest-quality unions were forged by couples who married during that period.
Here are some of the benefits:
- First, you are more likely to marry someone who shares your basic values and life experiences, and less likely to marry someone with a complicated romantic or family history. Those who marry in their twenties, for instance, are more likely to marry someone who isn’t previously married and shares their level of educational attainment as well as their religious faith. Marrying at this stage in your life also allows couples to experience early adulthood together. In the words of Elizabeth Gilbert, a 31-year-old woman who married in her mid-twenties, “My husband and I got to grow up together—not apart. We learned sacrifice, selflessness, compromise, and became better people for it.”
- Perhaps as a result of forging a strong marital friendship, couples who marry younger tend to enjoy more frequent sex than their peers who marry older. And more sex is closely linked to happier marriages.