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8 Reasons to Get Married in Your 20s

Thirty is the new 20, if Jay-Z is to be believed. This means the 20s are a time for fun, travel, schooling, trying out jobs, and experiencing relationships, according to the new conventional wisdom. These Odyssey years are definitely not meant for settling down and confronting adulthood full on.

Hence, 20something marriage is a definite no-no in the eyes of many journalists, academics, parents, and peers. After all, “selecting a lifelong mate is difficult to do before you’re all fully baked adults,” argues Slate columnist Amanda Marcotte. Critics of early marriage have a point. Plenty of young adults today don’t possess the maturity to tie the knot.

It is also true that women who wait to marry until their 30s:

• Are more likely to acquire education and experience that will boost their professional prospects and income (this is especially true for college-educated women, who make about $10,000 more in midlife than their peers who marry in their mid-20s); and,

• Are less likely to divorce than those who marry younger (though the heightened divorce risk is off the charts for teen weddings and relatively mild for those with weddings in their mid- or late-20s).

But postponing marriage also carries risks, risks that often go unacknowledged in our public and private conversations about marriage timing.

Four risks are particularly salient:

1) Adults who postpone marriage — especially into their late 30s and beyond — are less likely to end up marrying at all. This doesn’t mean — as Newsweek erroneously claimed in 1986 — that a single 40-year-old woman is “more likely to be killed by a terrorist” than to ever tie the knot. But the longer you wait, the lower the odds that you will ever end up at the altar.

2) Women and men who put off marriage and parenthood are more likely to run afoul of the biological clock in one way or another. Women’s fertility typically peaks in their 20s and begins to fall in their 30s. And a growing body of evidence indicates that women and men who have kids later in life are more likely to have children with cognitive and emotional disabilities ranging from autism to schizophrenia…

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