Not too long ago, singles began to consider marriage in their early 20s, but now the average age for Midwest singles to settle down is 29 for males and 27 for females, according to Midwest Matchmaking’s stats. Why are people waiting so long to marry? And is it helping or hurting their chances of marital success?
Matchmakers in Kansas City are seeing a trend that although young singles want to have a great marriage, they keep putting it off. This is occurring across almost all countries, races and backgrounds.
Researcher Katherine Edin found that marriage was a dream for most people living in poverty, a luxury they hoped to indulge in someday when the time was right, but generally not something they saw happening in the near or even the foreseeable future.
What Kansas City matchmakers noticed based on our own research, is that there seem to be three prevalent myths that Midwest singles buy into when it comes to waiting for marriage:
Myth #1: Waiting for marriage leads to greater success.
In some ways, it is true that marrying later leads to better marriages. Studies have shown that marrying after 30 significantly improves your chances of making it. On the other hand, premarital sex, premarital cohabitation and unwed childbearing contributed to marital instability.
Myth #2: “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”.
This cliche phrase is used to compartmentalize risky activities apart from their effects on a future marriage. Many singles operate under the premise that sowing their wild oats before they get married will not impact their marriage relationship, but this is not the case. In a puritan twist on this research, studies also have shown that the number of sexual partners singles had before they married were directly related to their chances of divorce. A 2003 study found that involvement with just one partner outside of marriage raised the risk of divorce three times higher than those who had only had sex with their spouse.
Myth #3: Marriage takes more than it gives.
Society sends this message to singles often: our kids need to slow down, delay settling down, experience and enjoy life, and not to marry until they have to.
The implication for the emerging adult is that when you finally get married it’s as if you stepped into a life sentence of limited options. Kansas City matchmakers believe the truth is just the opposite: marriage creates a framework that gives you something more than what you can gain and be by yourself.
Midwest Matchmaking’s advice for not falling prey to marriage myths:
First, educate yourself on any big decision you are considering. It’s helpful to know that what you do now programs your future behavior and attitude toward commitment. Keep marriage close on the horizon versus a distant goal, if this is something you do eventually want in your life.
Many parents are cultivating a narcissistic and compartmentalized view of dating and the 20s in their children. I would encourage any single to move commitment closer on the horizon, to consciously work at a better attitude toward marriage and to live in a way that would not jeopardize marriage in the future.