Marriage is a topical issue. Whether you’re married, want to get married or are destined for a glorious life of singledom, everyone has an opinion – from your mother slyly asking when you’re going to get her umkhwenyana to your friends begging you to tie the knot so they can be your bridesmaids.
But what is a good age to get married? A sociologist at the University of Utah did a few calculations and concluded that the perfect time to say “I do” is between the ages of 28 and 32.
“The odds of divorce decline as you age from your teenage years through your late twenties and early thirties,” Nick Wolfinger, the researcher who compiled the report, says. “Thereafter, the chances of divorce go up again as you move into your late thirties and early forties.”
Information released by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) this year shows that the number of people getting divorced increased in 2014. A total of 24 689 divorced applications were processed, 3,4% more than the previous year. These divorces were mainly initiated by the female partner.
If the research is correct – that before the age of about 32, the odds of divorce is reduced by 11% with each additional year of marriage and that after that, the odds of divorce increase by 5% a year – then the stats of divorce could well decrease.
Lula Motsepe – who got married at 26, two years before the optimum bracket – says she understands the benefit of getting married later as well as the advantage of tying the knot a bit earlier.
“People get married a bit later because they know themselves better, and can negotiate boundaries and resolve conflict better because they’re more mature,” she says. “So I understand why people choose to get married later.”
The downside is that the couple then have nothing to build together because they’re already established, she thinks.
“I think it’s nice that we’re young and can do things together,” she explains. “Like now, we’re thinking about buying property. I think by the time they’re older a lot of people are already established. That perpetuates division, sometimes with prenuptial agreements.”
Often people who already have everything, from the house to the car, are worried that the person who comes into their lives will turn on them at any minute, says Motsepe.
However, because people are different and there’s no way to predict what they will do, research such as this should be taken with a pinch of salt. After all, the heart wants what it wants.