Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
Men shouldn't get married before age 30...(135 Posts)
... said a friend to me this weekend as yet another young couple in her family break up just a few years after they were being wished well with confetti and pledging eternal love. Sweeping, wine-fuelled and very sexist statement I'll grant you, but led to a really interesting conversation about the perils of settling down too young and the relative emotional maturity of men vs women. Being on the wrong end of a 'starter marriage' in the past I tend to agree but there you have it vipers. A controversial statement to be shot down or propped up at your leisure.
Oops, younger DC made me post too early! I meant to say, we had both left home and been independent from 18, had no debts, good jobs and our own home and had both done a bit of travelling. He was probably more ready than me to settle at 25 if anything but it is different now with more people having debts and tryiong to get on the property dder.
I think it depends on the situation, DH and I.have been together since we were at uni, 13 years, s, marriefor 8 years (at 26) and have 3 DC
It will be unpopular to say this to anyone who is still pretty young and has had a family with a man they've been with since their teens, but the simple fact is that one or other of a couple is far more likely to get itchy feet and start feeling they've missed out on their 'sowing wild oats' years, if they have only had one long term relationship from a pretty young age. I think either the man or the woman can feel this way, but the truth is that the man is more likely to act on it, because he:
a) often gets more opportunity to be outside the home and away from the day to day care of the children
b) will often (rightly or wrongly) feel a bit aggrieved at being 'replaced' in her affections/attention by the children and will bemoan a lack of sex, whereas women are so preoccupied with the physical and emotional demands of childcare that sex becomes temporarily very much secondary.
c) is a man, and whatever feminists say about men and women being essentially the same, and everything else being a social construct, generally speaking, as a man he is not genetically/hormonally programmed to mature, or to take to monogamy as easily, or as young as most women.
You only have to look at the animal kingdom to see that the less evolved/civilised a society is, (or for humans let's say 'industrialised and developed) as it sounds less contentious) the more misogynistically it is set up. The males quite literally leave the woman 'holding the baby' and having no qualms about serving their own interests above everything else. In some parts of the developing world, routinely impregnating a woman (or several women) and then feeling no responsibility towards them whatsoever is so commmonplace as to have none of the societal pressure or guilt attached.
Of course anyone of any age can have an affair, or just bail on the responsibility of marriage and children, but there is no getting away from the fact that it is more likely to happen if a man has felt 'tied down' too young.
I know someone will come along to argue with paragraph four but I don't care.
I also think the sweeping generalization does a disservice to men. Almost all the men I know are solid dependable types.
I met DH when we were 19 and married at 25. We are still together 30 years later. My parents met and married in early 20s and are still together. Ditto PIL.
It all depends on the type of men you meet/like. Immature types might be fun and exciting but clever hard working mature men are the ones I would want my DDs marrying.
I think this does a disservice to men. My DH is far more mature than I am, set up his own business and bought his first house aged 21 when I was busy getting pissed up in uni and was thrilled by our first (accidental) pregnancy while was terrified. He was happy to support our family and couldn't wait to get married soon after and have another child. We are very, very happy and he is my rock - not all men are idiots although I can understand feeling a bit bitter if you married one. My own mother would probably agree with this statement - she married the wrong man the first time around too.
Have to disagree: I am 31, dh is 30, been together 13 years and married 8, have a 6 year old and 3 year old. Dh has a fab job, I have degree and good job.
Both working class, came from no money at all. Bought out first house together after renting for a year my second year out of uni, saved and paid for our own wedding. Had first DC a year after. I look at my single friends now and am very glad I am not having to panic as they are and settle for someone who may not be right for me, just because my clock is ticking. Dh and I grew up together, wanted the same things, and achieved them together. I hope for the same for my dc, that they are lucky enough to find the right person young.
It could also be argued that it is harder to let someone else into your life and get used to the compromises of living together the older you are and the more time you have spend just having to be accountable to yourself
Well maybe we disprove the rule.
We met at 19/20, married at 24. 18+ years ago. Had dc at 29, 31, 32.
It works for some people - it's working well for us!
My dps nan actually said something similar to me the other day. I do disagree, my dp and I are both 23, have a 7mo dd and are getting married next year. So many people asked us "don't you think you will be missing out on your 20's getting married/ having children/ moving in together, so young?"
but I always thought, we have both lived on our own since we were 18/19, worked for own money since 16 and definitely had enough fun. We were both ready to settle down together and have known each other 20 years, best friends for 10. I know I don't have hindsight on my side and maybe i'm niave, but I think we will be alright. We both have done what we wanted to do with that stage of our lives and have changed so much since we met but we have always been together for everything. Surely its more subjective than just "at 30+ you will be ok to settle down"?
Obviously it's impossible to generalise about an entire sex because people are individuals and behind any set of statistics, there's an entire social and economic context missing.
Funnily enough though, in my circle the marriages that seem the happiest are the ones where the couples met and married in their early/mid twenties but delayed kids till their late twenties or early thirties. In my completely unscientific assessment based only on conversations we've all had, this is attributed to the individuals having had enough 'single time' for other relationships, then enough time as a couple and forging ahead with careers/travelling the world before making the lifestyle shift required to become parents. This was the 80s/90s though, when DH, me and most of our contemporaries went to uni at 18, lived alone or in flat shares afterwards and found it relatively easy to buy first houses on a 100% mortgage.
But one of the biggest factors seems to have been the initial chemistry between the couples, which has seen them through the trials and tribulations of family life and getting older. Whereas we've all known a lot of divorces or unhappy marriages in couples who left it later to marry and then had children soon after meeting or marrying. As a shorthand, these are best described as the 'settlers' whose clocks were ticking and after lots of unsuccessful relationships, decided to settle down with 'steady types' who would make good parents, if not lifelong lovers.
Because the social and economic context is so different now for our own kids than it was when we married in our twenties, DH and I have got an expectation that if they decide on marriage, they'll probably be older than we were, but might be about the same age as we were when we started having children. But they are all so different in terms of personality and maturity levels, who knows?
Cogito- I think I mentioned some of those points upthread about extended adolescence.
My parents married at 22 and 23 but each left school at 14, my dad was conscripted into the army, and by the age of 23 was more mature in many ways than youngsters nowadays.
However, even he says 23 was too young to be married. Don't forget either that for people of that generation, some people could only get regular sex if they were married and my parents say they were 'chaperoned' by their families until they tied the knot.
The over 50s now ( like me) often married young- the expectation on me, in a very working class part of the country, was that I'd be married at 21 to a long term boyfriend. Any woman who was still single at 25 was considered to be a lost cause.
But you need to remember that very few people- around 10%- went to uni, compared to 50% now. Some of my DCs friends have married young, but by and large they are all still single in their mid-late 20s.
You can find the numbers on the ONS website through a search of publications. The tables show that men are more likely to get divorced the older they are at marriage significantly (dropping after 45 due to fewer getting married then) while women's divorce rates decrease slightly as they get older.
So by the ONS stats, men should marry earlier and women should marry later though for women it has far less impact. Confirmation bias though tends to teach different things.
I agree that the initial statement was deliberately simplistic and therefore controversial. @bangon... Picking the age '30' was really a peg to hang the maturity hat on, if you will, rather than a strict cut-off.
I probably changed more between 30 and 45 than between 20 and 30. So should I not have been allowed to marry before 30 or should I have been made to wait until I was 46? And is it ok if you just live in sin?
To your feckless young man of 22, I raise you the spoiled bachelor of 40.
Not sure what magically happens to a man on the eve of his 30th birthday to make him marriage/fatherhood material? If that were true the relationships section wouldn't be chock full of tales of cheating, porn-addicted, soon to be divorced, men in their thirties & forties. Can't blame all this on their marrying to soon - they would probably behave like this at any age.
aetae - In your 30s there is peer pressure thats why a lot of people just end up marrying whoever is around at the time. I think if you marry younger then often its because you really love the person as its a much more rare thing to do and totally against what modern society expects.
I would never marry a man older than me. None of my peers seem to want to do that either, unless marrying for money.
I would be perfectly happy from age 18+ if our dcs got married.
I think in addition to emotional maturity and a sense of self / independence there might be an element of peer pressure to it.
I know that as most people get older they care far less about what other people think, so I can see how younger people are more susceptible to marrying their serious boy/girlfriend at the time because that's what you do (relationship stages etc that kind of bollocks) so don't exercise fully free choice and therefore end up with the wrong person. I suppose men might be more prone to this than women as we're more societally conditioned to start dreaming about family and relationship permanence at a young age.
Only your male DCs have to hold off until 30 peteyprianha ... the female ones will be able to handle the responsibility at a younger age. That's the proposal on the table.
There are a lot of reasons I would hope my dcs dont wait until their 30s to marry. More chance of fertility problems, if they want children wont have a few carefree years of marriage before children come along, will have the stress of having to rush through the children with small gaps so more stress for their marriage, then if they do that more chance that the woman will quit work as wont be able to afford childcare for a couple of children at once, people are more set in their ways by 30 so it can be hard to adjust to marriage.
On top of this I am seeing a lot at the moment of people who havent got married by their 30s marrying any one at all as they are worried about their fertility.
" a bit more philosophical "
I think the philosophical point could be the dichotomy between the very modern concept of 'extended adolescence' as someone accurately put it up-thread vs the cave-man-style biological timetable of pair-bonding, fertility and so on.
(Dons flat cap and sucks thoughtfully on a pint of mild to elaborate)... when childhood stopped age 14 or 15 and ordinary people (rather than the Bertie Wooster set) were expected to grow up overnight, get a job, stop mucking about and knuckle down, the two would have overlapped relatively nicely. Nowadays, '50 is the new 40', 30 is the new 16 and, just when you think the whole grisly business of being a grown-up is left to people in their seventies, there's Jagger
I don't think it's so much an age thing..
I think those that are now 50's+ where brought up when you got married then had children and never divorced
Where as the last 20/30 years has been a case of do what you want
If two mature in mind, same life plans etc people get married at 16 they will be much better together than two 40 year olds who are imature and marrying for the sake of it..
And as someone else mentioned the older people get the less they seem to even want to divorce even if their marriage is bad and dead in the water because what's the point? They just want company nothing more
I wonder why it is that so many posters here relate the question to their own experiences, rather than being a bit more philosophical about the question?
Several of us have said that there will always be couples who married young and think that is the best way, but sometimes to debate something you need to move outside your personal experience and that of close friends etc and think of the issue in wider terms.
I don't necessarily agree; I think it depends quite a lot on your own personality and expectations. I come from a social circle/family where most relationships are established well before the age of 30, and almost all of them are still doing well, divorce is very rare amongst those I know.
I am a bit of a black sheep in that I married in my early 30s (considered late), but then I only met DH when he was 28. I dare say that if we'd met earlier, we probably would have married younger. He's always been a serious and responsible type, and certainly wasn't emotionally immature throughout his 20s, but just hadn't met the right person. I have never been a big partying type either. Neither of us fit the stereotypes of commitment-phobe young man or desperately keen woman, and tbh most of my friends don't either!
One advantage to marrying a bit later was that we were both well established in our careers, which meant we could buy a house as soon as we were married, and we can afford a good lifestyle with nice weekends away etc. Couples I know who have married younger have had to deal with poor quality rentals, struggle to get decent leisure time and pay for the basics, which puts a lot of stress on them.
The people I know best in life are me, my sister & my best friend. We all married before we were 30, to men younger than 30 - in fact, oddly enough, we are all older than our husbands!
Currently we have all been married between 20 - 25 years, plenty of children, losses & life changes in that time and the marriages are still going strong.
So in my closest circle - that statement is bollocks. DH & I were both 26 when me married (he is only 6 months younger than me), we met when we were 23. I believe we will be together until separated by death.
Join the discussion
Please login first.