Dear Dr. Buckingham,
I’m 19 years old (not dating), and would like to be married one day. Just out of curiosity, what do you think is a good age for one to get married, and how old do you think is too young?
Thank you 🙂
Young and Curious
Dear Young and Curious,
Thanks for asking such an important, but subjective question. Many people have different views regarding the best age to tie the knot. Because there is no magic age, my response is based both on my personal belief and professional observations as a clinical psychotherapist who has provided therapy to hundreds of couples from around the world.
I believe that 25 years old is a good age to get married. Also, I believe that it is the youngest age as well. I encourage individuals to wait until they are at least 25 years old for three reasons.
Reason #1 – Maturity Level. From a psychology perspective, maturity level is associated with development stages and one’s ability to make sound and logical decisions. According to Erik Erikson, a famous psychologist, healthy developing individuals pass through eight stages of development from infancy to late adulthood. He argues that between 13 and 19 years of age individuals are struggling with their fidelity: Identity vs. role confusion.
During this fifth stage most individuals are trying to answer the following question: Who Am I and What Can I Be? During this transitional timeframe, individuals are still trying to figure out which roles they will play as adults. It is common for them to feel confused and have mixed feelings about the specific ways they will fit into society.
However, given the right conditions and role models, individuals may develop a firm sense of who they are and what they want. Nevertheless, self-discovery is the primary focus for most individuals between ages 13-19.
Between ages 20-39, which represents the intimacy vs. isolation stage, individuals struggle with the concept of love. We begin to ask ourselves, “Can I Love?” For most, age 30 is when we put more focus on the decision to remain single (isolation) or to develop an intimate and long-term relationship. Individuals cannot develop or make long-term commitments until they have established their identities. Given this, I personally do not believe that anyone under the age of 25 should get married.
Reason #2 – Education Level. Generally speaking, it takes at least 4 years to graduate from college, which means that most individuals leave college around the age of 21 or 22. While education is not the end all and be all to marital success, it definitely plays a role.
In my professional work, I have found that individuals who have attained higher education are less likely to divorce than those who have less education. This is partially true because through the educational system, especially on the college level, individuals learn how to process and problem solve more effectively.
Also, your financial status can and will impact the marital relationship. Given this, I recommend that individuals obtain higher education, if possible, before marriage because college educated individuals typically get married later and tend to be more established financially than less educated adults.
Reason #3 – More time together means more bonding. Time is the answer to most relationship challenges and I have found that couples who date longer typically create stronger bonds, which are critical to marital success. As you navigate through early adulthood, you can grow to learn more about your potential husband. Jumping the broom should not solely be based on timeframes, however those who spend less time bonding are at greater risk of marital discord and possible divorce.
I wish you the best on your journey and please continue to ask important questions before making important decisions. By seeking guidance you are already on the right path. Some say, “age ain’t nothing but a number”, but I disagree. Age represents stages and phases in our lives. When you do decide to get married, please seek pre-marital counseling from a professional counselor.
If you have questions for Dr. Dwayne Buckingham regarding relationships (married, single, etc), parenting, or personal growth and development, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: The ideas, opinions and recommendations contained in this post are not intended as a substitute for seeking professional counseling or guidance. Any concerns or questions that you have about relationships or any other source of potential distress should be discussed with a professional, in person. The author is not liable or responsible for any personal or relational distress, loss or damage allegedly arising from any information or recommendations in this post.