The average age to get married varies across time and in different countries. For U.S. women, the average age is 27, but in the 1800s it was 21. In Africa, teen brides are still common with 16 being the average marrying age for women in four countries. So, with so many facts, what exactly is the best age to get married?
I fell deeply in love right before my 19th birthday. I had finished my first year of college when I dated several great guys, but I had no intention of getting serious or going steady with any of them. Then I met an amazing man while playing sand volleyball one night, and we had immediate chemistry. We spent that summer glued at the hip.
After several months of serious dating, he brought up marriage, and I had a panic attack. Not because I wasn't sure about him - I was completely sure I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. Not because I thought our relationship was too fast - I had never felt closer to anyone, and it felt right. Not because I didn't want to get married - though I wasn't searching for marriage at all when I started dating, once I fell in love with him, it seemed preposterous not to marry him.
The reason I panicked was because of my age. I immediately imagined the endless amount of critics who would judge me for getting engaged at 19. After all, I would be judgmental myself if I heard the same about someone else.
Science and statistics show us...
There are many studies online regarding the best age to get married "according to science." One study claims divorce stats show the best age for marriage is around 30. Another says, according to a new mathematical theory, the best is age is 26. And another claims marrying in your early 20s will lead to a lasting marriage.
Science can't tell us the best age to get married because marriage is a matter of love and circumstances, not stats and mathematical theories.
So, what's the best age to marry? The age you are when you feel ready and when you're sure about the person you love. Whether that's when you're 20 or 80.
While you'll have science and studies telling you the "right" age to get married, you'll also hear from many people convinced of their own marital-age opinion.
"You're too young to get married"
When people say this, they are implying you're not mature enough to get married, but maturity and age don't always go hand in hand. Though that doesn't mean two teenagers in love should head to a marriage chapel. Maturity should definitely be a factor if you're looking into marriage.
Some indicators that you're not mature enough for marriage include: wanting marriage just for the extravagant wedding, not dating many people, jumping in before considering factors other than your feelings, you're lacking independence or you communicate more through your phone than through your mouth.
But if you truly feel you're at a level of maturity to get married, don't let your age be a barrier between you and your sweetheart.
"You're getting older... you should be married by now"
Comments like this are dangerous; they can lead a person to believe there's something wrong with them. They also might pressure people to jump into marriage before they're ready because their "marriage clock" is ticking.
There are many reasons people wait until later in life to get married, including wanting to mature, waiting to find the right person or simply preferring to be single during their younger years. This is not to say there aren't situations when people need an extra push toward marriage, but damaging pressure is often piled onto unmarried folk.
When so many articles and people are telling you the "right" age to get married, it's easy to judge yourself if, according to the world's standards, you got married too early or too late.
I definitely judged myself and experienced guilt when I was spreading the news of my engagement. That self-judgment tainted my engagement, and looking back I wished I hadn't let others' opinions and statistics determine the way I felt about myself.
What to keep in mind before you judge
You are sure to see loved ones get married before you think they're old enough, and you'll also know others who wait for marriage longer than you think they should. The most important aspect about these situations is to offer these couples your love instead of your judgment. Because a happy marriage is a happy marriage, age aside.