Whether you tie the knot after knowing each other a few days or several decades, marriage is always a risk. After all, nobody wants to end up in divorce court. But, according to new research, there may be a “right” amount of time to wait before getting married — and it’s probably not as long as you think.
According to a study conducted at Emory University, couples who wait three or more years to say “I do” are significantly less likely to end up divorced than those who marry sooner.
Researchers surveyed more than 3,000 people currently or previously married, asking a slew of questions about their weddings and marriages, ranging from how long they dated before getting married to how much they spent on their wedding and rings. In regards to time, they found that couples who date one to two years have a 20 percent lower chance of divorcing than couples who made things official just a year after dating. Those who waited an additional year, getting wed after three years of dating, decreased their likelihood of getting divorced by a whopping 50 percent.
Another thing that ups your chances of living happily ever after, according to the survey, is really getting to know your partner before committing. Those who self-reported knowing each other “very well” before marrying were 50 percent less likely to call it quits than other couples. Basically, don’t marry a stranger.
If you are wondering how long most couples wait before getting married, science can answer that question as well. According to a separate study conducted by Bridebook, the average couple spends nearly five years together before making it to the chapel, while surveys done by eHarmony and Weddington Way claim the number is closer to three years.
Another factor that people should consider before marriage is the age gap. A recent Australian study found that people who are married to someone much younger or much older “tend to have larger declines in marital satisfaction over time as compared with those who are married to spouses who are similar in age.” The Emory University study also confirmed this dismal outlook for May-December romances, finding that couples with larger age gaps were incrementally more likely to end up divorced than same-age couples.
While every couple is different, because marriage is a legal and binding contract between two people and not just a romantic declaration of love, it’s important to take these types of studies into consideration. Ultimately, decisions on whether or when to marry should be made on a case-by-case basis, but sometimes it’s important to consider the statistics before acting entirely on emotion. After all, 40 to 50 percent of married couples in the United States end up divorcing.
What Do YOU Think?
Are you surprised that couples who wait three years to marry are less likely to get divorced? What factors do you think are important when it comes to marriage? How long would you wait?
Leah Groth is a writer and editor currently based in Philadelphia. She has covered topics such as entertainment, parenting, health & wellness for xoJane, Babble, Radar, Fit Pregnancy, Mommy Nearest, Living Healthy and PopDust.