Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Quote of the Day: Evidence Says 19-25 Most Optimal Age for Women to Marry

There were a few interesting quotes in this article about the benefits of marriage — um, too bad gay people are denied those benefits in most of the country/world — but the one that stuck out to me the most was this: “Evidence shows the optimal time for men to marry seems to be after the age of 25, whereas for women it is between 19 and 25 years,” [an academic in England] said.

Wow, really?? I know I get flack for my attitude toward early twenty-something relationships (hi, AnitaBath), and I’ll concede that part of that is simply cultural (I’ve spent the last 10 years in big cities where people simply don’t settle down that early), but I still find it hard to believe that 19 is an optimal age for a woman to marry. Twenty-five? Sure, fine. But, 19? Optimal? What the fuck. I could barely recite the alphabet when I was that age. Ah, Zima, I remember you fondly.

50 comments… add one
  • AnitaBath January 28, 2011, 2:04 pm

    Haha, hi Wendy 😉

    I really do think a lot of it is cultural, and it’s especially different on the East Coast than it is to many places in the Midwest. I’m from a small town in Indiana, and it might have something to do with people on the East Coast fully being able to live up the single life and having more diversity, while you can only party in corn fields for so long before it gets old.

    Then again, it’s not like everyone settles down early here, but it’s definitely not uncommon. Though I’m pretty sure there are a lot more people getting pregnant and becoming mothers at 19 from my school than there are people getting married…

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    • evanscr05 February 1, 2011, 8:20 am

      I lived in Bloomington for about 10 years and went to high school there. For the most part, most people I graduated with went on to college. One girlfriend ended up marrying her high school sweetheart at 22, but they divorced 3 years later. There were quite a few people that got married soon after high school, or just had kids, and some didn’t finish school. There were quite a few pregnant 13/14 year olds in high school, too. My friends from college went to high school in Virginia, and they just didn’t seem to have that same level of pregnanices. I’m originally from Virginia and have been out here since college, and I can say that the mindset is definitely different (at least, in Northern Virginia). People out here are more career focused than family focused. Nothing is wrong with either mindset, I just don’t see quite as many marriages at a younger age as I did in Indiana.

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      • throwrock February 1, 2011, 12:35 pm

        OMG I lived in Bloomington 🙂 Small world!

        Ironically I got married at 21, so I guess I fit the midwest stereotype for young marriages. Although, I have to call BS on the playing in the cornfields and no education. I have never stepped foot in a cornfield, and after marriage I moved to a major city and got a very advanced degree from a top school. You might say I’m even over-educated.

        P.S. My career has not suffered. A good marriage does not have to preclude a good education or a good career! I think a more relevant obstacle is unplanned pregnancy, whatever your age.

      • evanscr05 February 1, 2011, 2:56 pm

        That’s too funny! Very small world!

        One of the houses we lived in on the south side of town was literally next door to a corn field, my high school best friend and I got lost in a cornfield on our way to the Greenwood Mall, and my brother had some friends that went to a high school somewhere down in the southern part of the state that was literally surrounded by cornfields. So, I wouldn’t say she’s *completely* wrong about the cornfields. There are a ton of them! (Hello the slogan for Indiana Beach!)

        Having gotten my secondary education in Indiana, hearing about most of my friend’s secondary education in Virginia, and being surrounded now by a ton of excellent high schools (including the #1 high school in the country), I would have to say that it is most definitely lacking in Hoosier-ville. On a college level I would disagree (although, I did get accepted to Indiana University without even applying, so I’m not sure what that says), but formative education is crucial to your development and to your future as an adult and the standards in Indiana are really subpar in comparison.

  • AnitaBath January 28, 2011, 2:08 pm

    Oh, and I’ll add that I think it also depends on whether you pursue a higher education. Some of the girls I graduated with got married around nineteen, but they had no plans to go to college. I think it also has something to do with people thinking that their life really “begins” after they’re done with their education because they have all this freedom and can get the job they want. If you just go to four years of undergrad, that might happen at around age 25. If you just go to high school, that might happen at 19.

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    • ArtsyGirly January 29, 2011, 12:21 pm

      Anita -Where do you live? I am in Indianapolis. The Midwest is more traditional than many other states and cities on the East or West coast. Now, I don’t disagree with this article, but I have read other studies that have found that couples who are closer to 30 who get married are more likely to stay married. Also in some of those studies, when the female partner is older than the male partner the marriage is more likely to last. I believe there is not real answer. It depends on the couple and there are too many variables to find the ‘perfect situation’ for everyone. I married at 23, which to many is very young, but my husband and I were together for almost a decade and I had completed college and a master’s degree at that point.

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      • AnitaBath January 29, 2011, 1:45 pm

        Right now I’m going to school at IU, but I’m originally from a small town about 25 minutes Northeast of Indy, where all the prisons are, ha.

      • throwrock February 1, 2011, 12:36 pm

        Wow! Way to represent Bloomington on this site today 😛

      • evanscr05 February 1, 2011, 2:58 pm

        You’re making me homesick, AnitaBath! All of a sudden I’m craving a trip down Kirkwood.

  • Amber January 28, 2011, 2:08 pm

    I was definitely NOT ready to get married at 19. I can’t even imagine what I would have been like as a wife then. It wouldn’t have been pretty. I’m from the South (sort of Virginia, definitely not the deep south!) where people tend to do things a little early, but even for here 19 is even young.

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  • sobriquet January 28, 2011, 2:18 pm

    It’s an optimal age to get married if you plan to do lots of procreating, I guess.

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    • Wolvie_girl January 28, 2011, 2:23 pm

      Exactly! And let’s face it, that’s all we women aspire to anyway, right? Wifedom and motherhood!!!

      The reason it’s “optimal” for a man to marry after 25 and “optimal” for a woman to marry before is all about babies and careers. A man should be established in a career before he’s married, but it dosn’t matter for the woman, cause let’s face it, college is just to find a man.

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      • AnitaBath January 28, 2011, 2:27 pm

        Woah woah woah. So if a woman gets married in her early twenties it’s for the sole purpose of Michelle-Duggaring it up? The article mentioned nothing, absolutely nothing, about careers. It was all about the mental, physical and emotional well being of couples who married during that age group.

      • Wolvie_girl January 28, 2011, 2:34 pm

        How many of those women who were so emotionally, mentally and physically ready to be married at 19 are still married five years later though?

      • redessa January 28, 2011, 4:23 pm

        Me! I got married at 19. We’re at 15 yrs and counting.

      • Wolvie_girl January 28, 2011, 2:36 pm

        There’s nothing inherently wrong with getting married at such a young age, if you truly, honetly beleive it’s the right thing for you, but if it works out long term, you’re in the minority, not the majority.

      • TheGirl January 28, 2011, 4:03 pm

        I think we need to make Duggaring happen.

        That being said, I don’t think people should allow statistics to pigeon-hole them. While I agree that long-term relationships are clearly good for people mentally, I disagree with the fact that one age or another is ‘optimal’, especially when based on statistics (Samuel Clemens used my favorite quote – there are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies and statistics). The age that is optimal is the age you find someone you love, trust and respect and with whom you are willing to compromises on things to make it work.

      • Wendy January 28, 2011, 4:33 pm

        I might need to add Duggaring to my FAQ page.
        “What does Duggaring mean?”
        Making it your life’s mission to have a baby every year.

      • Wolvie_girl January 28, 2011, 4:08 pm

        Indeed, “Michelle-Duggaring it up” is my new favorite phrase!

  • XanderTaylor January 28, 2011, 2:24 pm

    I was married at 20 & divorced at 40. Man, I wish I had waited to get married. We were too young & unformed as people at that age. My ex decided the grass just had to be greener elsewhere & left not only me, but his children as well (he no longer wanted the responsibility of children as he tried to relive his 20’s). And, yep, we are both from a small Midwest town.

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  • Anne (I Go To 11) January 28, 2011, 2:27 pm

    I married my first husband when I was 19. I had NO idea what I was getting myself into. Suffice to say, it didn’t work out, and we were divorced after 2 years of marriage. I married my now-husband at 26, and good Lord, the amount of maturity I’ve gained since I was 19 is enormous. It *is* a cultural thing for people to marry younger in places that operate a little slower than in big cities, but to each his/her own. If you have the maturity to understand what you’re getting into when you’re 19, that’s one thing. But most 19 year olds I know–including myself at that age–don’t.

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  • BeccaAnne January 28, 2011, 2:42 pm

    My parents got married at 21 and they are still totally in love.
    My sister got married at 22 and is totally in love with 2 wonderful kids.
    My other sister got married at 22 and the husband left her 2 years later.

    My point is that age doesn’t matter nearly as much as the people and the maturity.

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    • ladiejoy January 28, 2011, 3:19 pm


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  • Wolvie_girl January 28, 2011, 2:48 pm

    “The mental health bonus for women may be due to a greater emphasis on the importance of the relationship in women.”

    Um, yeah, this doesn’t help. So basically women need to be in a relationship sooner because it matters so much more to us that we aren’t along and our mental health depends on it?!?! …Maybe I’m just cynical (I was married and divorced by the time I was 25, so I’m allowed)

    You’re right AnitaBath, it doesn’t mention careers and babies! Desperate women terrified of being alone is SOOO much better!

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  • Monica M January 28, 2011, 2:48 pm

    I agree with you that marrying young is not wise. You change so much and really don’t know who you are or what you want from life. I would like to know what they mean exactly by “optimal.”

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  • Bdubs629 January 28, 2011, 3:07 pm

    I am 20 currently and I have roommates and friends that are having wedding fever right now! I am from the east coast and they are all from Indiana, where we go to school. We clash on this subject constantly! I have a friend who collects those engagement ring ads from Zales or Kay and hides them in her boyfriend’s bag. I have another friend who is planning to leave everything and move to Switzerland, with her boyfriend, as soon as she graduates (he lives there and is graduating this year). I think it is completely crazy! Not that I don’t support my friends, but I don’t think I could handle being engaged/ married right now. I am happy being single! It seems to be pretty common to be engaged/married out here.

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    • ArtsyGirly January 29, 2011, 1:58 pm

      I think this is partly to do with culture. A lot of people want to get married as soon as college is done because this is part of life chapters.
      1. born 2. school 3. marriage 4. career and house 5. babies 6. retirement 7. death
      Also I have to say there is a lot of external pressures on women. I knew that while I was dating my husband, friends and family (multi generational groups too) would ask us when we were going to get engaged. One of the first questions I got when I called people to tell them I was engaged was when was the wedding. At my wedding, and I kid you not, I was asked when we were going to start our family. It seems like a lot of people are trying to propel women into the next stage of life. Also there are always statistics about how if you are not in a long term relationship after college your chances are marrying or finding a life partner are hindered since it is harder to meet singles after college.

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  • baby.blanka January 28, 2011, 3:13 pm

    If I had married the guy I was dating when I was 19 (or 25)… I would have been a “MOA” Dear Wendy letter waiting to happen.

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    • thefierycrash January 28, 2011, 6:25 pm

      ugh ditto! helloooo pathological liar! and to think i actually thought i could have married him at the time. 19 year old me was immature and obviously a little naive 🙂

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    • Jessica January 30, 2011, 1:49 pm

      You took the words right out of my mouth!

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  • ladiejoy January 28, 2011, 3:34 pm

    Zima. *giggle*

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  • Public Pearl January 28, 2011, 3:44 pm

    I was 22 when I got married (14 years later, we’re still together and happy), but it’s certainly not the right choice for everyone. I wasn’t obsessed with getting married or thought it was the only thing in life; I just met an amazing person, and I’m so glad I get to spend the rest of my life with my best friend. Having wild crazy single party days never appealed to me, so I don’t feel like I missed out on anything.

    But I admit I look at 22 year olds these days and think, “Gah, you’re so young and clueless! I don’t even want you voting, much less getting married!”

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  • Nuttin January 28, 2011, 3:45 pm

    You all are dogging getting married at 19 but when you were 19 did you know you weren’t ready? I can’t tell you how many girls, (While in College) I dated that aspired to get married ASAP. You are all strong mature women here but when you were 19 and in you boyfriends arms
    what were you thinking… marriage perhaps. All I would have had to say was “ya baby let’s do it” (Get married) and I promise 9 out of 10 girls would have.

    And no I am not anything special!

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  • Tudor Princess January 28, 2011, 4:11 pm

    One size does NOT fit all.

    On another note; I am loving the way Wendy can be a little freer with her speech than on The Frisky. 🙂 I like my Wendy a little saucy! Lol!

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    • Tudor Princess January 28, 2011, 4:12 pm

      here, not her…

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      • Tudor Princess January 28, 2011, 4:12 pm

        You know what, just ignore me today because it looks like I have temporarily lost my mind.

    • Wendy January 28, 2011, 4:31 pm

      Fuck is my favorite word. I love being able to use it freely!

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      • Tudor Princess January 28, 2011, 4:39 pm

        It’s a highly underrated word. 😉 You won’t get any complaints from me.

  • AnitaBath January 28, 2011, 4:48 pm

    Even though I’m generally not for making general statements about who should do what at what age, I think there’s a few confounding variables in this study. What if the physical, emotional, and mental health of people who married at that age is mostly due to other factors that worked in their favor in their marriage also? If at 19 through 25 they were mature and stable enough to start a successful marriage, I bet that plays a huge factor in their well being later on in life.

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  • Skyblossom January 28, 2011, 5:06 pm

    Maybe women are emotionally mature at a younger age than men.

    I come from a small midwest town and many of my high school classmates married within two years of high school graduation. About half of those marriages ended in divorce but some of them have lasted and are very strong.

    The sad thing was that many girls married whichever guy they happened to be dating their senior year. You knew that if high school ended a year sooner or a year later they would have married someone else.

    I think everyone should give their relationship at least two years to fall apart before considering marriage. At 19 not many couples have had two years together.

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    • thefierycrash January 28, 2011, 6:27 pm

      i agree. 2 years has always been the breaking point for me. rapidly approaching that in the current relationship and keeping my fingers crossed. i think we’ll make it but who knows, i’ve been wrong before 😉

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      • Skyblossom January 29, 2011, 1:45 pm

        I hope it works for you.

  • Dennis Hong January 28, 2011, 8:14 pm

    Just say Zima backwards and you’re pretty much reciting the alphabet. That’s how [i]I[/i] learned.

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    • Dennis Hong January 28, 2011, 8:16 pm

      Bah. Wrong formatting tags. Stupid ‘s and ]’s….

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  • fallonthecity January 28, 2011, 10:31 pm

    Haha, if that’s the case, then I’m screwed ’cause there is no way I’ll even be in serious relationship mode by the time I’m 25 (trying my hardest to kick-start my career and may end up kind of transient for awhile). On the other hand, if that’s the case, all my girl friends are right on the money! After June of this year, I will have exactly zero (close) single girl friends.

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  • Lexington January 29, 2011, 1:55 pm

    I think, like everything else in life, it depends on the couple. I know one couple who got married when they were 20 who I absolutely believe belong together. I also think my sister, who wants to get married at 22, is totally not ready.

    Everyone is different. There is no ‘Manual To A Perfect Life’.

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    • Titsmagee January 29, 2011, 2:30 pm


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  • atmartin06 January 30, 2011, 4:37 pm

    I love the new website, Wendy! So glad you can be free and say what you want here.

    As for marriage, they are probably right. I’ve been with my boyfriend since I was 19 and we’re still together at 27 so we might have been ok but I’m glad we didn’t get married right away. At this point, though, I am done with school and feel like I am ready to get married and have kids. I think it is a progression that only comes with time.

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  • evanscr05 February 1, 2011, 8:31 am

    My parents got married at 20, and they ended up growing apart and divorcing at 34. Several people I know from high school and college that got married around 22, have gotten divorced. Not everyone, but enough that I have always felt uncomfortable getting married too young. Seeing first hand what a divorce can do to kids (and I went through it twice with my mom), and how bitter the parents can get when things end, I’ve just always decided that when I get married, it’s for life. I met my guy at age 24, and even though I have been dying to marry him since practically the first date, I’m really glad we’ve decided to wait. We’ll be getting married later this year at age 28, and I have so much faith that we’ll make it. We’ve got our education out of the way, for the most part; we’ve each had opportunities to go a little wild and get it out of our systems; we’ve both been in serious relationships in the past where marriage was discussed, that we know what works and what doesn’t for us; and we’re both finally at a place that we know the trajectory we’d like to take our careers. I feel like we’re ready because I feel like we know who are now a lot better than we did 5 years ago. We’re at a point in our lives where we’re ready for long term plans and our plans are in sync. We have divorced parents so it’s important to us that we make it, and knowing that we have our shit together really helps solidify that we’re ready. I know not everyone who gets married young ends up divorced, but I do think that it’s rare to stay married for the long haul.

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  • Emma February 2, 2011, 6:11 pm

    My parents got married in their mid thirties and have no even gone through a major rough patch in their partnership. My brother and his ex-wife got married when she was twenty-one and he was twenty-four. I’m planning on getting married after I graduate college, which will be in the twenty-three to twenty-four range. I always figured it was better to have my schooling out of the way and have a career before I got married (if I decided to get married). My fiance is letting me do that before we get married.

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