When it comes to how long you should wait to get married, there's no perfect answer. Just because you see your friends getting married all around you isn't a reason to rush. And if you feel like you're ready before your friends are, then there's a good chance you're right. You know your relationship better than anybody else.
But there is interesting new data showing that generally couples are waiting longer to get married — and there's a chance that it's leading to lower divorce rates. Wedding planning app and website Bridebook.co.uk asked 4,000 recently married couples about their relationship and found that, on average, people are spending about five years together before getting married. The way that it broke down was really interesting. Couples tend to date for 1.4 years (17 months), live together for 1.83 years (22 months), and spend about 1.67 years (20 months) engaged before we get married. Which brings us to just under five years together — and about three and a half years living together — before they tie the knot. Maybe that's why the average age for a woman getting married is 30.8, compared to 22.6 in the 1970s. Meanwhile, divorce rates are at their lowest in the UK since 1971. Could there be a connection?
"The main reason that getting married later may help divorce rates slow down is because we know ourselves and our relationship much better when we are older and more experienced," relationship therapist Aimee Hartstein, LCSW tells Bustle. "Although we may be able to drink and vote once we are 18 or 21, we are still learning about ourselves and who we are. So much of our growth and development takes place throughout our 20s. Choices we make in our early 20s such as jobs, friends, and relationships, don’t necessarily suit us as we head into our later 20s. It can be very smart to avoid making those choices into legally binding commitments such as marriage."
It makes sense to me. At 30, I'm a totally different person than I was at 22.6. The idea of making a decision as big as marriage at that age seems mind-boggling. Everyone's different and for some people it may be the right choice earlier in life. And I have a tendency to wait — my girlfriend and I waited a year and a half to move in together, which is like a decade in lesbian years. To me, taking your time and being sure just make sense.
"There’s always time to commit and get married, but doing it too soon and with too little experience under your belt can put you in a situation that’s difficult to undo later on."
"I also feel like there’s no downside to waiting and seeing," Harstein says. "Date seriously, move in together, see how the relationship evolves over the years that you are still growing and changing. There’s always time to commit and get married, but doing it too soon and with too little experience under your belt can put you in a situation that’s difficult to undo later on."
Maybe it's not the right call for you. Some people get married quickly and it works out great. But if you're not sure, feeling on the fence, or feel pressured, you may want to wait. Marriage will still be an option — and you'll get all of your questions answered before you get there.