Relationships: Waiting to Marry May Improve Your Chance at Marital Success

The older the couple, the better off the marriage, according to some relationship experts.

People are waiting longer to marry, and that may have an effect on the success of those marriages. The median age at which people enter into first marriages has steadily increased, according to findings from the United States Census Bureau. Generally, the median age of first marriage for men is 27.1, and for women it is 25.3. The most recent census report showed that, on average, first marriages that end in divorce last about eight years.

The trend toward waiting to marry may be positive, said Lori Gorshow, the owner and president of Dating Made Simple, at, a dating coach service that offers workshops and individual coaching to help people develop successful interpersonal and dating skills. “As you gain more real-word experience, you gain wisdom,” Gorshow said. “And with wisdom, you can apply that to your relationship.”

Gorshow characterized the rise in median age as a positive change in society because it gives partners a chance to bring new aspects to their marriages, and a chance to learn new ways to succeed. She said couples are learning more about the ways they can keep their marriages on the right track, and more programs exist to educate them. “Couples can look at compatibility, problem solving, how to navigate the relationship,” Gorshow said. “It means that some of the benefits that exist out there for couples to be successful, there are support systems to encourage that.”

She said that as people get older, they develop their own sense of independence, both emotionally and financially. “As they age, they also shed a primary need for physical attraction to their partners, and begin to appreciate sharing core values”, Gorshow said. “So you being to look at things a little bit different,” Gorshow said. “That wisdom that comes with life experience gets played out in choosing a partner.”


There may be two causes to higher median age for marriage, said William (Beau) Weston, Ph.D., a professor of sociology at Centre College in Danville, Ky. One reason is the possibility that people a placing a priority on education. “The educated classes take longer to finish their education, and therefore feel socially and financially ready to marry,” Weston said.

Weston is also the author of the blog Gruntled Center, which can be found at The other reason couples are marrying later pertains to childhood experiences with their own parents’ marriages.Weston said that the children of divorced families are more likely to put marriage off because they are uncertain about the institution. “They are more likely to cohabit first, which, when it does lead to marriage, is usually after a couple of year’s delay,” Weston said.


Stability in life may also contribute to better marriages at older ages, said Gilda Carle, Ph.D., founder of and the Suddenly Single columnist for She said she knows two couples who were living together, who decided to marry in their 50s. She said, at first, their decisions to marry came as a surprise. “They didn’t necessarily have to tie the knot,” she said. But she saw that they had built stable lives, and they realized that they didn’t need to look any further for the person with whom they wanted to share their lives, she said. “There was no point to run around looking for something more,” Carle said. “I translate that into a major measure of security and being very mature about who they are and where they are going, and not giving themselves false airs or false hope.”

She said none of the four thought they would marry at all. Their relationships were happy the way they were, but they decided they wanted to make it legal, she said. Another reason they decided to marry was to be able to make use of the legal benefits that come with marriage, such as joining into each others’ health care coverage, she said. Carle said waiting to marry seems to be a way to start on the right foot. They are mature enough to know themselves, and to know what they want in their lives, she said. They are also old enough to know better than to try to change their partners. They accepts them as they are, she said.

“They are not getting married because they have to,” Carle said. “They are getting married because they maturely have concluded they want to be together, and are very serious about spending the rest of their lives together.”


No matter what the age, romantic relationships are an intrinsic need, Gorshow said. For a long time, Gorshow said, it was assumed that the need for love was a physical, sexual hunger. But brain studies have shown that it is a biological need, she said. And that’s different, “That means that we actually need those relationships. We crave those relationships,” Gorshow said. “When people are in love, they tend to become more energetic, creative and resilient, Gorshow said. They also feel stronger societal attachments, and they want better for the world, she said. When we are in love, we tend to think greater than ourselves,” Gorshow said. There are benefits to our whole entire society, not just to the individual, when we are in love.”

“The physiological need for love and the benefits it provides know no age”, Gorshow said. “That yearning or desire for romance never goes away,” Gorshow said.

About the author: Michele Bush Kimball has a Ph.D. in mass communication with a specialization in media law. She has spent almost 15 years in the field of journalism, and she teaches at American University in Washington, D.C. She recently won a national research award for her work. She can be reached at