In 1960, the median age of marriage for women was 20. Today, it is 27.
While our grandmothers had no qualms about walking down the aisle in their early twenties, today anyone thinking about marriage under the age of 25 gets a lot of advice about not rushing into things. Marrying young is often seen as scary or stupid―or both.
What makes early marriage so frightening?
Part of the answer lies in that a marriage, as personal as it is, influences and is influenced by its environment. If you have a divorced co-worker, you are 55 percent more likely to get divorced than if you didn’t work alongside a divorcée. We take our cues from one another; which means that in a culture of divorce we are more cautious about marriage, and in a single society, we are more cautious about marrying young.
In her essay “‘There but for the Grace’: The Ethics of Bystanders to Divorce,” scholar M. Christian Green reflects on how divorce affects not only divorcées, but everyone else, too. But in my experience, the inverse is also true. Good marriages have a way of sharing some of their strength with the rest of us.