Getting engaged is undeniably an exciting life mile marker — but for some who are in their second marriage or have entered their 30s single, it can be daunting to face the prospect of marriage. As we grow older, doubts can sometimes sneak their way into our love lives, leading us to wonder things like how long to date before getting engaged in your 30s and if getting married after 30 is too old to make for a lasting partnership.
In this article, we will address some of the myths people have about getting married in your third decade of life, including what’s considered “normal” for couples in the modern era and frequently asked questions about engagement — at any age. Read on for everything you need to know about getting married after you’ve exited your 20s!
Is Getting Married at 30 Too Old?
Especially for those of us who have just turned thirty, this can mark a surprisingly emotional birthday. Turning the page on a previous decade of life can remind us of how far we’ve come, but it can also remind us of goals we have yet to meet; one such common goal for many folks is finding a life partner and getting engaged.
While in some cultures around the world, folks are getting married as soon as they are able to procreate, in the United States, the trend seems to be going in the other direction. In fact, in the last twenty years or so, the median age of Americans at their first wedding increased from 26.7 years old for men and 25 years old for women to 30.1 for men and 28.3 for women — numbers which are looking like they will only be increasing with time. Looking back even further to the 1950s, men typically wed at 23 years old, while women were ready to say “I do” by 20 years old.
While in centuries past, previous generations might have thought you an “old maid” if you were unmarried by the time you reached 30 years old and beyond, the truth is contemporary times are a little more nuanced. If you’re wondering if getting married at 30 is too old, just remember that getting married when you’re younger to the “wrong” person is not a better path than waiting until you find your soulmate or better half — a journey that can sometimes take the better part of a lifetime. If you want real love, it is best not to try to rush the process and to enjoy building relationships from moment to moment.
Don’t worry about being too old to get married and plan a big celebration. Plenty of folks choose to marry the apple of their eye at age 50 and beyond — so if your engagement at 30 feels right, then it is right.
Top Reasons Why Getting Married in Your 30s is a Stroke of Contemporary Genius
It can be hard to feel like you’re something of a “late bloomer” if you’re just getting around to “serious” dating and marriage after you’ve hit the 30 mark. However, this perceived societal pressure likely doesn’t have any real bearing on your circumstances, your needs or your story. There are all sorts of reasons why you might not have gotten married before your thirties.
Maybe you hadn’t found your “forever person,” or you were focused on cultivating a career path or studying a passion extensively. Maybe you were starting a business or working as a freelancer, a professional musician or spending time reconnecting with family members or volunteering on an organic farm.
Whatever your reasons for not jumping straight into marriage right out of high school (or even college), there can actually be some benefits to getting married later in life rather than when you’re younger and less experienced. Here are the top three reasons why getting married after thirty is a great idea:
Focus on building life experience:
We’re not saying you shouldn’t date and play the field during this phase — but if you focus less energy on finding validation from a romantic partner and more energy investing in yourself, the dividends can pay off in truly unprecedented ways down the road.
Whether this means going back to school for your Master’s degree, starting and managing a CSA of locally-grown produce, volunteering at a children’s hospital or working as an intern somewhere, anything you can do to improve your quality of life while setting you on a track for career success makes you not only more capable, but a better asset to your future partner in years to come.
Learn what you really want in a partnership:
This is the time to take it slow. Play the field. Decide what works for you and what doesn’t in a relationship and learn how to find and call in the type of energy you want to connect with. Of course, one could argue that the process of life is perpetually playing the fool (as we only know what we know), but waiting a little bit longer does offer you a lot more insight, clarity and wisdom on what you want to rely on your partner for and can also distill what strengths you bring to a relationship.
Be more secure in your big “yes”:
Not everyone is an advocate for waiting and gaining other life experience (such as travel, volunteering, career development, creative and academic pursuits, etc.) before focusing on marriage — but for some people, taking the time to prioritize their own life can lead to increased confidence not only in their contributions to the relationship but in their “freedom” in the relationship. This makes it easier to say “yes” to a proposal knowing you’ve done some homework, you can survive on your own and you now have a better idea of exactly what you want.
Weddings are an expensive affair and the costs can rise significantly when you’re bent on having the dream wedding you imagined as a little girl. Hard as it is to admit, most couples in their 20s scramble to put together their wedding fund and may even take out loans to cover this cost. However, if you and your partner waited long enough to build a career and improve your financial standing, you can go through the wedding planning phase without worrying about going over the budget. Ultimately, being able to comfortably afford an elegant wedding seems like a pretty good reward for not meeting your life partner in society’s timing.
Celebrities Who Got Married After 30
They’re just like us! If you thought getting married in your thirties was abnormal, we’re here to let you know it is quite the opposite. In fact, many Americans — including famous celebrities — tend to wait until after their third decade of life before they pull the trigger on engagement, including couples like:
- Jennifer Aniston, who married Justin Theroux at 46
- Portia de Rossi and Ellen DeGeneres were 50 years old when they wed
- Amy Adams got married at 40 to Darren Le Gallo
- At 42, Cameron Diaz married boyfriend, Benji Madden
- Katie Couric wed John Molner when she was 51 years old
- George Takei was 71 when he got married to his partner Brad Altman
So while maybe you always pictured you’d be married by 30 or whatever other expectations you might have had for yourself, sometimes letting go of these goals and accepting where you’re at in the process of life can be much more valuable than forcing a relationship just to say you’ve gotten hitched by a certain deadline. Love is all around if we are looking and open to receiving it!
What Are the Chances of Getting Married After 30?
“Yeah,” you might be thinking. “Just because some celebrities were able to find love after 30 doesn’t necessarily mean I will.” So what are the chances of getting married after 30?
Don’t give up yet if you’re rounding the corner on your third decade. According to a study conducted by Yale and Harvard researchers focusing primarily on women with a college education background, women at 30 years old were still holding a 20% chance of getting married, while age 35 brought that chance down to 5%. By the time they reached 40, however, most stood 2.6% of getting married.
Is It Hard to Get Married After 30?
While the study mentioned above might appear disheartening at first glance, there are plenty of women who are not accounted for in this study — such as women who have strayed off the beaten path of college education and pursued their interests by directly entering the workforce, etc.
So yes, while you may consider getting married after 30 to be more challenging than in the decade prior, understand that there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question — and ultimately, you get to decide what you’re worth, what you want and who you want to spend your time with, even if that means waiting until your 40s or beyond to tie the knot.
Is Getting Married at 30 Good?
Certainly, nowadays, it is considered quite normal for contemporary couples to get married between 28-31 years old — and this is just the median age bracket. While there’s nothing wrong with finding your soulmate at 18 and jumping into marriage at 20 or so, there is something to be said for learning the autonomy that comes with self-sufficiency and continuing to participate in your own life story so you are more certain of what will work with your interests and what won’t.
To say that getting married at 30 is either “good” or “bad” is completely arbitrary — but at least in today’s day and age, it is quite average, and the numbers appear to only be moving up in terms of median marriage age. Even if it may make your parents uncomfortable to wait as they worry about you popping out grandbabies for them, it is far better to find a deep connection with someone at 35, 40, 50 or even 70 than rush the process and end up with an undesirable outcome.
How Long to Date Before Getting Engaged in Your 30s
Ah, the eternal question: how long should I date before engagement in my 30s? As the big 3-0 looms closer and closer and the constant messaging from your biological clock keeps pinging you through a hormone drip, it can be tempting to feel a sense of urgency as you prepare to leave your 20s. You may even feel a sense of being “late” or “left behind,” but in truth, you are likely just where you are supposed to be.
The answer to this question largely depends on the couple at hand. For some, they know they have a deep soul connection with the strength to last a lifetime after a few to six months of dating. Others like to take their time and see their partner in all kinds of lights — even unflattering ones — so they understand precisely what it is they’re signing up for when they decide to get hitched.
Many couples in their thirties opt to date for a few years before pulling the trigger on engagement to ensure they are, in fact, compatible and complementary to each other. “Trying a partner on” for this length of time can be a great way to learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses and learn the best ways to lift each other up when times get hard.
No matter your age, getting engaged will largely come down to the feelings you feel (and maybe a little bit of what you think of the other person too). If you feel like you know in your bones that you’ve found the love of your life after four months, there’s nothing wrong with diving right into marriage — whether you’re 20, 30, 50 or 70.
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How Do I Know When I’m Ready for Engagement?
This can be a tricky one, especially if we are still working on developing emotional intelligence. Does the sight of your partner thrill you and give you butterflies? Do you feel safe around them? Inspired? Motivated to work harder? What positive attributes do they bring to your life?
There are all kinds of questions you should ask yourself about what being with this person does to benefit your life — and also take inventory of what you might offer them in return that could keep the flame lit for years to come. Other signs you’re ready to get hitched include:
- You understand your partner like the back of your hand. You don’t desire to control or change them but to witness their journey and support them through thick and thin.
- You understand where you want your life to go very clearly, and you can see the overlap between your partner’s life goals and yours.
- You are excellent at taking care of yourself and meeting your own needs, whether they be emotional or spiritual, financial, physical, etc.
- You’re confident in who you are and your capabilities. You do not depend on the other person for anything but enjoy their company and support.
- You know if and when you will need to walk away in order to honor your own truth and your own life’s story — aka what lines your partner cannot cross without serious repercussions.
- You love who you are and have a network of friends and support outside your romantic partner. That being said, shared friendships and interests are always a plus.
- The idea of commitment doesn’t scare you but seems like an intriguing challenge. Commitment “for life” can be terrifying — even for folks who may have dreamed of their big day since they were children. Confidence comes with a deep understanding of yourself, your partner and your shared outlook — not to mention the differences between the two of you.
Committing to loving someone and prioritizing them every day can seem scary, but it is actually one of the best love practices a person can work on every day. We can always be better — but if you and your partner can healthily navigate conflict and return to a place of love, that’s definitely something worth committing to!
Things you should take into account before getting engaged
Relationships can have you on cloud 9 and discussing the more important things may escape your mind while you enjoy the bliss. While it’s all fun and dandy now, this may not always be the case three years into your future. Here are some of the main courses of trouble in paradise and why we believe you should address these topics before getting engaged;
Communication and conflict resolution
After years together, you may begin to assume that your partner can automatically read your mind and anticipate your emotions. As great as that would be, it’s not an ability we humans possess. It’s important to establish an ongoing line of communication and set clear boundaries on things each of you is unwilling to compromise on when it comes to the trust established in your relationship. Before getting engaged you must be sure that the relationship allows both you and your partner to express your needs and more importantly that you are both taking into account what the other is saying.
It’s also important to establish a healthy way to work around huge disagreements in the future. After, all you can’t build something with someone that shuts you out or packs up and leaves every time you disagree.
If you and your partner have different religious beliefs, it’s important to talk about this with caution. It’s okay to have varying beliefs however, each of you must consistently respect the other’s beliefs for the relationship to work. So, if you envision going to church as a family while your partner is an atheist, it’s clear you are holding on to false hope that you can change him. The truth is, you can’t and it will only lead to conflict in the future.
The going narrative is that once you’re married, children should come next. That may have been true in the past however more and more couples are opting to stay child-free. Ensure you have established where your partner stands on having children long before you get engaged to ensure you are on the same page about your future together.
This is a glaring topic and has caused the demise of many relationships. When planning your future together, you should be honest about your financial situation. This includes debts, spending habits, and how you intend to handle your future expenses as a unit. We always recommend keeping your finances separate to avoid squabbles about money.
This may be a taboo topic but it needs to be addressed more openly in relationships. Sex plays a huge role in relationships and it’s important to be able to express your needs and wants while listening to those of your partner. This may also be a good time to address kinks and your partner’s willingness to have a monogamous sexual relationship for the rest of their life.
Your new balance
When getting engaged, it goes without saying that the next step you envision is marriage. This will be a new reality for both of you especially when you start having children. Try to lightly talk about how you will adjust to these changes as they come and gauge your partner’s responses to ensure they hold the same values as you.
You Can Find Love at Any Age
While some studies may have us believe that getting married after your 30th birthday is increasingly difficult with ever-reducing chances, there are plenty of anecdotal success stories out there about couples who found true love from 40 all the way up until 80. Your success at finding love has a lot to do with how you choose to present yourself in the world and how risk-averse you are.
If you are willing to do anything to find a healthy, satisfying partnership, remember to focus on your own needs first and work on envisioning the character traits you’d like to discover in a partner.
Remember, big, white weddings thrown for 20-somethings with hundreds of invites are not necessarily destined for long-term success, even if the couple did everything “right” on paper. If you’ve ever been married before and are looking to remarry for a second or even third time, you’ve likely already learned this lesson.
There is absolutely no reason to be in a rush about marrying someone — especially if you are a person who takes wedding vows to heart and believes in the sanctity of committing to loving and caring for someone in sickness and in health, in good times and lean times, come what may.
If this is your outlook on love, you will likely never struggle to find someone with whom you share a spark — no matter how time may wear on and your perspective may change. If this is your outlook on sharing a relationship with another, you are all the more likely to find love anywhere you look and at any age!
Serena & Dominic are a married couple and parents to 3 wonderful children. They plan weddings, run multiple small businesses, and curate wedding events.
By giving you everything you need to make your dream wedding attainable, you can eliminate stress, get the ‘wedding glow,’ and focus on spending this rocking day with the person you adore. Discover their podcast for more information