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Divorce much more likely among those who marry after age 32

Everyone always says that marrying on the older side is wiser than marrying young. But a new study says it might be the exact opposite. It turns out, couples who marry after age 32 are far more likely to end up divorced.

University of Utah sociologist Nicholas Wolfinger looked at data from the National Survey of Family Growth from 2006 to 2010 and found that those who marry after 32 have a much higher likelihood of eventual divorce. It looks like this: Getting married at 20 makes you 50 percent more likely to get divorced than someone who gets married when they are 25. Then, after 25, each additional year you wait to marry reduces the odds of divorce by 11 percent—until 32. Boom. Just like that, the odds rise.

But why?

Researchers believe it might have something to do with self-selection. As in: people who wait that long to get married aren’t suited to the union in the first place. Seems correct.

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Of course, like any study saying what may or may not cause divorce, we all know this is slightly suspect. But anecdotally, in my own life, I have noticed a trend toward greater unhappiness among those who married older. Whether it is because they had become set in their ways and struggled to change gears or whether it was because they’d settled for fear of missing their fertility window, this doesn’t surprise me.

Sometimes I complain about how young my husband and I met and married. I never had a wild single time since I was 23 when we got together. My friends always tell me that’s the price I pay for meeting my soul mate at such a young age. And it is. It makes me grateful. Because back then, I wasn’t worried about fertility or being the last single standing. My only concern was love and that I’d met this person who was my best friend with with whom I could have amazing conversations (and sex) all night long.

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So even though we took our walk down the aisle at an age that seems impossibly young to many educated people in the Northeast, the truth is, 12 years later, I do think we have one of the happiest marriages I know. Is this luck? Maybe. But maybe it also has something to do with our age when we took our vows.

It’s always interesting to consider that popular wisdom may, in fact, not be very wise at all.

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