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15 Surprising Marriage Statistics by Age Group

We all know many marriages these days don’t last. But being married for over a decade, I was curious what the marriage statistics by age group were. So I decided to compile a complete list.

The best age to get married and not end up divorced is between ages 28-32, while ages 20-24 have the highest likelihood for divorce for both men and women. But surprisingly, in the age bracket of 54-64, divorce rates have quadrupled over the past 3 decades.

Life takes a toll on relationships more than ever and while many do go on for decades, the odds are not exactly in our favor.

But when we look at marriage statistics by age group, some surprising numbers jump out.

So today, we’re answering all the top questions related to marriage statistics and marriage in general. But specifically, we’re listing out all the top marriage statistics by age group.

Relationships, like anything worth doing, require time, effort, patience, forgiveness, and dedication and yours doesn’t have to just end up a number on the chart.

For more great marriage statistics, also make sure to check out my 17 Astonishing Infidelity Recovery Statistics (click to see my complete list).

How many years do most marriages last?

marriage statistics by age group Middle Class Dad 2 wedding rings tied to a pink bow on a white pillow

According to the Bureau of Labor figures and data from the American Community Survey, about 17.8 per 1000 married people get divorced each year.

The highest success rate of marriage, however, occurs when the couple is between the ages of 28-32, according to the CDC’s National Survey of Family Growth.

The chances of divorce go down from the teen years through the late twenties & early thirties. After that, the odds of divorce increase into the late thirties and early forties.

But on average, the average length of a marriage is 8 years and 42% of marriages will end in divorce. For 2nd or 3rd marriages, the percentage that fails shockingly jumps to 60% and 73% respectively.

Avoid the Top 3 Reasons for Divorce (click to read my article that breaks them down) and see if you aren’t as surprised as I was to see what reason #3 was.

What is the most common age to get married?

Both of my grandmothers probably got married in their teens.

But in today’s world, that just isn’t the reality anymore. After all, while women have always played a crucial role in families, that role looks very different today than it did 60 years ago.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the average age for women to marry is 27.4 years. For men, that number is 29.5 years.

Historically, those are the highest those numbers have ever been.

Compare that to 1990 when the average age was 24 for brides or 10 years earlier in 1980 when it was 22. In 1950 that number was 20.

I dive in much deeper on the average age to get married, including the crucial length of time you should date before getting married in this article. Click to check it out on my site.

What is the ideal age to get married?

So right out of the gate, I see a slight discrepancy between the most common age to get married being the 27.4 and 29.5 I mentioned above and the ideal age based on divorce statistics.

The ideal age to get married and not find yourself divorced is actually 28-32.

The good news is that the most common age to get married has slowly been getting older over the past 30 years as I mentioned above.

So with the current most common age being 27.4, we’re very close to the lower level of the ideal age range.

So just hold out a little longer and push to wait until closer to 30 to improve your chances of staying married.

What is an acceptable age difference between couples?

Let’s be clear. If 2 people love each other, age really doesn’t matter.

I am 17 years older than my wife and while we’ve had a few bumps in our marriage, it’s better than ever. That being said, there are societal norms and now we have some data as well.

The common belief in society is the rule of 7.

Using this rule, if your spouse or would-be partner is younger, take half your age and add 7.

Thus, in my case at age 54, I would go with 27+7 to get age 34.  Since my wife is actually 37, I suppose we make the cut in society’s eyes!

For someone older, the common rule is to subtract 7 from your own age and then double it.

Thus, at the time we married when my wife was 25, she would have subtracted 7 which would give her 18, and then doubled it for the age of 36.

Given I was 42 at the time, I’m glad she didn’t know about the rule!

Considering a relationship with an older man? Check out all the Pros and Cons of Dating Older Men (click to read my complete list).

The actual research on age difference preferences

Researchers Buunk and colleagues studied heterosexual men aged 60.

In their findings, the men clearly wanted to marry or have serious relationships with women about age 45, but for more casual encounters, they preferred ages 25-30.

For the maximum age for a spouse, men over 40 overwhelming prefer someone below 40.

In fact, the research shows that only for men up to age 30 does the so-called rule of 7 for marrying someone older really apply.

For women, they tend to follow the rule of 7, but once they hit age 36 the top age of men they are willing to consider jumps up considerably.

Unlike men, who up until age 60 had the same preferences for marriage, relationships, and casual encounters, when women hit 40, there is a bigger gap between a man’s age for marriage vs a casual encounter.

What is the average age for a woman to get married?

On average, women tend to marry most at age 27.4, slightly below the average age for men.

That number is up by about 4 from 25 years ago and up 6 years from 35 years ago. It’s up a whopping 8 years from the average age women got married back in the 1950s.

As women and men wait to get married, they are naturally seeing a decline in the divorce rate and staying married longer.

The good news is that the longer we stay married the greater the chances of Taking Our Relationship to the Next Level (click to read my post on how).

If your marriage is struggling, I highly recommend you take a moment and review my most pinned post on Pinterest about relationship stages.

What age group has the highest rate of divorce?

Divorce rates for women are highest between ages 15-20 and over age 45. But ages 20-24 have the highest likelihood for divorce for both men and women overall (between 35-40%).

So what that data is telling us is that getting married young is a really bad idea.

I can attest to that as I was married once before my current marriage, and I was 20 at the time of my first wedding. That being said, ages 54-64 have seen divorce rates quadruple over the past 3 decades.

So what that’s telling us is that with people living longer and women being more equal to men both in the workplace and at home, most likely women are becoming less tolerant of midlife crisis behavior and poor behavior in general.

Does living together first lead to more divorces?

The common myth out there is that living together first before marrying increases your chances of divorce.

In reality, research (again from the CDC’s National Survey of Family Growth) tells a different story.

In short, it’s the age that a couple decide to move in together first that determines the likelihood of divorce, not just cohabitating.

When a couple moves in together around age 18 and then later marry, they have a whopping 60% chance of getting divorced.

Instead, if they just waited until they were at least 23, they would see that divorce rate cut in half down to 30%.

So age and our lack of maturity and ability to choose a suitable partner are to blame for high divorce rates more than cohabitation.

That being said, according to Gallup Polls, 31% of Americans still disapprove of living together out of wedlock and feel it is more likely to lead to divorce.

What is the least popular month to get married?

marriage statistics by age group Middle Class Dad silhouette of a married couple at sunset

Each year, there are well over 2,500,000 weddings in the US. 40% of those are remarriages (2nd, 3rd or 4th marriages).

25% of those proposals occur in December and Saturday is the most popular day to hold wedding ceremonies.

According to Wedding Wire, the top 5 months to get married are:

  • October
  • September
  • June
  • May
  • August

The biggest monthly increases in weddings are October which has increased a staggering 26% over the past few decades as June has slowly decreased. Travel costs during those months are chiefly responsible for those changes.

January remains the least popular month to get married pulling in only 4% of all weddings.

So let’s recap the . . . 

15 Surprising Marriage Statistics by Age Group You Probably Didn’t Know

1. Divorce rates for women are highest between ages 15-20 and over 45

At a very young age, most men and women lack the maturity to select a suitable partner.

Unlike our great-grandparents who did likely marry this young, young people today lead very different (and often much easier) lives and don’t always have the life experience our forefathers did.

Marriages over age 45 are often 2nd or 3rd marriages, which regardless of gender, always have a much higher rate of divorce (60-73% chance of divorce).

2. The best age to get married and not end up divorced is between ages 28-32

This age range allows people to come together after some years of dating, finishing higher education and starting careers.

Thus, they often have better perspectives on who they are and what they want.

3. The divorce rate is 17.8 per 1000 married people

The good news is that rate has fallen significantly over the past decade when it was at 21 per 1000.

One of the primary reasons for the fall is that millennials are waiting longer to get married. By waiting, they tend to be more comfortable with who they are and what they want and thus are doing a better job of selecting mates.

4. Ages 20-24 have the highest likelihood for divorce for both men and women (between 35-40%)

As I mentioned in #1, at a young age in this day and age, most of us simply don’t have the maturity or experience to really know who we are yet or what we truly want in a spouse.

Thus we tend to make poorer choices that have a greater likelihood of divorce.

5. For men, the best age to get married and not get divorced is over 35

Once we hit 35, we tend to have a much better understanding of who and what we are and what we want. We have started careers and likely had a few relationships under our belt that have given us wisdom and experience.

All of that combines to help us make better choices in selecting partners.

6. 13% of women ages 25-29 marry a man who is starting their 2nd marriage

In general, women tend to marry men who are a little older than they are. Thus, there is a greater likelihood the man has already been married and divorced once.

7. Once women hit 30, the chances of marrying a man in their 2nd marriage jump up to 24% and then almost 36% by the time women hit 35

Obviously, the older the bride the more likely their husband-to-be is marrying for the 2nd time.

8. The average age for couples divorcing is 30 years old.

Given we know the average marriage only lasts 8 years and that those who marry under age 25 have a much higher rate of divorce, it makes sense that many couples enter divorce court around age 30.

9. In the age bracket of 54-64, divorce rates have quadrupled over the past 3 decades

Baby Boomers currently make up the age range of 54-64.

In the US, but also Australia, the UK, and India, we have been seeing huge increases in the divorce rate in this age bracket, sometimes called Gray Divorce.

In part, this change is due to increases in life expectancy which has increased by about 20 years over the past century.

Thus as people live together longer, they sometimes find themselves growing apart or becoming incompatible.

10. 25% of all divorces today involve couples age 50 or older. 25 years ago, that was 1 in 10

This is due both to what is described in #9 above, but also the fact that the divorce rate for millennials has decreased (noted in #3).

11. The average age to get married is 27.4 for women and 29.5 for men (the highest ages in history)

The millennial generation starts with those born in 1982 and goes through 2004.

Thus, as noted elsewhere, as this generation continues to postpone marriage, we have seen the average age to get married increase.

12. 41% of couples live together before marriage

The age of being virgins until our wedding nights (something I actually did with my 1st marriage) is generally over. These days almost half of couples who marry live together first.

13. Those who live together first at age 18 have a 60% chance of divorce

As noted above, for those couples who move in together around age 18 and later marry, they, unfortunately, see a divorce rate of 60%.

This has less to do with cohabitation and more to do with a lack of maturity and experience in choosing their partner.

14. Couples who wait until at least age 23 see the divorce rate drop by half

As we get older and (hopefully) wiser, we tend to make better choices.

Thus, just by waiting until age 23 to move in together before marriage, couples see a 30% reduction in the chance of divorce.

15. The older the person, the more likely they are to disapprove of raising children outside of marriage

Generally speaking, most people ages 18-29 believe there is no negative impact on children living with unmarried parents.

By ages 30-49, that support drops to 50% and by age 65, almost all disapprove of children living with unmarried parents.

Final thoughts

In today’s post, we took a detailed look into marriage statistics.

We answered all the top questions related to marriage, but we also saw some surprising results.

Specifically, we reviewed the top marriage statistics by age group to shed some light on what causes some marriages to succeed and others to fail.

How long have you been married?

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Additional sources for these statistics:

Jeff Campbell