The average marrying age for women has reached an all-time high of 26.5 years, according to Erin Migdol in a 2013 article published in The Huffington Post. This shift from previous generations also includes a decline in divorce rates, reports Lauren Cahn and June Carbone with Alternet, an independent online media outlet; women who marry later in life are presumed to be more financially stable and less likely to get divorced than those who get married at a younger age.
Higher Education and Career Focus
A commonly reported reason for women choosing to delay marriage is so that they can focus on obtaining higher education and reaching career objectives. This is not to say that these women have no interest in being married - many prefer to establish financial security before settling down with a partner. Author Melanie Notkin with Psychology Today warns against viewing the "career woman" as selfish and cold hearted for choosing to build a legacy through her occupation. Notkin says that negative stereotypes about unmarried career-focused women are hurtful and unsubstantiated.
Some women choose to delay marriage so they can travel, focus on personal interests or postpone having children. The responsibilities that come with having a spouse and raising a family may deter women who would rather have more experiences before making such serious commitments. Women who choose to marry later in life may use the time of personal freedom to work on emotional or psychological healing from past hurts - trying to resolve certain issues before committing to marriage.
Lack of Relationship Stability
Women who delay marriage may find it difficult to find a stable, reliable partner. Notkin notes that the "career woman myth" fails to consider that some women who've chosen to focus on their careers actually desire to raise a family, but won't do so without a stable relationship. Social and personality psychologist Jeremy Nicholson, M.S.W., Ph.D., says in Psychology Today that modern women often struggle to find suitable mates because society expects women to be successful leaders both at work and at home, a benchmark that challenges their ability to find cooperative romantic partners.
Marriage is delayed when women decide to live with their partner before or without getting married. Couples choose to live together for a number of reasons, according to clinical psychologist and author Meg Jay in a 2012 New York Times article: to pool resources, to tentatively test marriage compatibility or with the presumption that cohabitation is a step toward marriage. There is much controversy as to whether or not cohabitation is harmful to marriage; however, numerous reports find that an increasing number of couples are choosing to live together and delay marriage.
- Alternet.org: 5 Reasons Americans Are Delaying Marriage
- Population Reference Bureau: U.S. Women Delay Marriage and Children for College
- USA Today: Young Adults Delaying Marriage
- Huffington Post: Delaying Marriage Has Serious Consequences for Some, New Research Reveals
- Psychology Today: The "Career Woman" Myth
- Psychology Today: Why Women Can't Find a Good Man
- The New York Times: Opinion: The Downside of Cohabiting Before Marriage
- George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images