Premarital Couples: Is There a “Best” Age To Get Married?

Premarital Couples: Is There a “Best” Age To Get Married?

Does How Old You Are When You Marry Matter?

We do a lot of premarital counseling at Growing Self, and so I'm always interested in sharing information about all matters related to creating a happy marriage, and a lifetime of love. I recently had the privilege of speaking with Kristen Skovira of Denver 7 about a topic that I find fascinating: Recent research suggesting that there is an “ideal age” to get married — and lower your chance of divorce. I thought I'd share the highlights of our interview with you.

The “Sweet Spot” For a Successful Marriage

Nicholas H. Wolfinger, a sociologist at the University of Utah, has compiled data in family research which suggests that there is in fact a “sweet spot” for getting married. People who get married between the ages of 27 to about 31 have a lower likely-hood of divorcing than younger couples, OR couples who marry in their later thirties and forties.


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Why Do Older or Younger Couples Seem To Have More Problems

No one knows for sure, but I have a few theories:

1) Couples who marry in their late twenties may have personality factors and life circumstances that support happy marriages. 

There is lots of research documenting factors that support successful marriages. These include higher levels of education, higher socio-economic status, as well as personal factors such as strong commitment, values around marriage and family, responsibility, and conscientiousness.

People who get married in their late twenties have given themselves time to get through college and / or graduate school, and get established in a career — evidence of personal responsibility and conscientiousness. However, they have also prioritized finding a mate, and cultivating a relationship. (As opposed to spending six years hiking through Eurasia, messing around in the Peace Corps, or spending 80 hours a week clawing themselves up some corporate ladder).

Their life decisions may reflect their core values, which is “marriage and family is very important to me.” Having that core value may help sustain their commitment to the inevitable ups and downs of marriage during years to come, as well as seek out support that will help them nourish their relationship during hard times.

In contrast, people who delay marriage until later life may not have the same priorities around marriage and family. (Although many older adults absolutely do — they just haven't found the one yet).

2) People who marry later may be carrying “relationship baggage” into their new marriages. 

Swapping out one relationship for another doesn't necessarily change you. People who have had a string of relationships through their twenties and thirties may be repeating the same negative relationship patterns with a succession of new partners. If they don't do some work to identify and fix their rigid and unhelpful ways of relating in relationships, they are likely to carry those destructive patterns with them when they finally do marry. This is particularly true if marriages are fueled by anxiety as well as love. (As in, “I'm thirty-seven and I really need to get married — stat.”)

Furthermore, all of us usually learn how to “do relationships” from our families of origin. The fact is that people in their 30's and 40's are children of the 70's and 80's — decades when divorce rates were at an all-time high.  Many Gen Xers and Gen Yers often did not have good models for how to repair and nourish healthy, happy marriages.  Their parents chucked it when it got hard, and chose to look elsewhere for their happiness. People who did not have good role models in the relationship department often need to get some guidance on “How To Do Relationships” — particularly if repeated relationship disappointments suggest that they may have room for improvement. Without using failed relationships as an opportunity for learning and growth, they're likely to repeat negative patterns in new ones.

3) Blended family situations are very difficult.

The info-graphic we're discussing is specific to first-time marriages. But I feel that it would be irresponsible for me to not touch upon a major factor impacting people who marry when they are older: Blended family situations.

Many older couples-with-kids (even those who love each other very much, and are extremely excited about getting married to each other) are absolutely shocked by how difficult negotiating blended families can be. The higher divorce rates for second and third marriages reflect the grim reality: Blended families are uniquely challenging.

There are many reasons why blended families and step-families are hard. Most couples attempting step-parenting require support and guidance as they work through the turbulent first years of creating new family roles, figuring out boundaries with each other's kids, and supporting each other as parents — while establishing a strong marriage. It can be emotionally harrowing. Couples who successfully establish happy blended families do so through a great deal of intentional effort. I believe that statistics on divorce rates for older couples reflect the challenge that many blended families face.

Statistics Are Not YOUR Reality

But here's the truth — MOST couples have lovely, happy marriages no matter what age they marry. Divorce rates are falling, and half of what they were at their peak in the 1980s. Furthermore, statistics don't account for personal factors. I personally have been with my husband since I was nineteen years old, and got married when I was twenty-two. According to this nifty chart, I should have gotten divorced a long time ago. Twenty years on, we're happier than ever.

One way to ensure that you have a happy, satisfying, and secure marriage — no matter what age you are — is to get involved in high quality premarital counseling before you get married. Premarital counseling allows you to get on the same page going in to your marriage, and to solve potential problems before they even become a thing. It's the responsible thing to do.

All the best,

— Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby


P.S. Growing Self Counseling and Coaching offers both private premarital counseling sessions in Denver, as well as our wildly popular premarital class, “A Lifetime of Love,” taught by Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists Meagan Terry and Brenda Fahn. Learn more about our premarital counseling and premarital class opportunities, and let us help you create a lifetime of happiness together…

Planning a Wedding? Ask a Wedding Expert!

Getting Married? WIN Your Wedding!

Getting Married? WIN Your Wedding!

WIN Your Wedding!

If you are getting hitched this year, you don't want to miss the “Wedding Wars” Bridal Show on January 12th. Top wedding vendors from all over Denver will be competing with each other to see who can create the most inspirational wedding magic.

There will be four style corners, showcasing the current trends in décor, floral, fashions, food and more. Mix, mingle, partake in tastings, and prepare to be awed by gorgeousness.

Free Premarital Counseling

As part of the evening's entertainment and education, Denver premarital counselors Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby, LMFT and Jessica Small, M.A., LMFT will be giving an exclusive presentation about premarital counseling.

You'll learn about the top “friction points” for most couples in the first years of marriage, and how you can get on the same page and avoid potential problems. You'll also receive a fun “relationship check up” premarital assessment that will tell you if your relationship is ready for the challenges of marriage, or if you have some opportunities for growth.

You will also be entered to win incredibly valuable prizes, including $375 dollars worth of private premarital counseling or a spot in our Lifetime of Love Premarital & Relationship Class (worth $260).

Best yet, ONE lucky couple who will win the grand prize: A $15,000 dream wedding in Breckenridge Colorado planned by L Elizabeth Events!!

If you are planning a wedding in 2017, you must come to Wedding Wars.

What: Wedding Wars Bridal Show
When: Thursday January 12, 2017
Where: Falls Event Center, 8199 Southpark Circle, Littleton CO 80120
Time: 5:30pm – 8:30pm

Click here to get your tickets! Use this special offer code for a discount on your tickets – WW2017 – as a special “Thank You” from Growing Self!

Planning a Wedding? Ask a Wedding Expert!

Create a Lifetime of Love

Expert Premarital Counseling in Denver, across the US, and Internationally.

Have More Wedding Dazzle, Less Wedding Frazzle

Have More Wedding Dazzle, Less Wedding Frazzle

Getting Married is a Big Deal. Do it Right.

Are you planning a Colorado Wedding? There are soooo many things to think about when you're getting married: Venue, food, music, the ceremony, the dress. It's easy to get caught up in the whirlwind and feel overwhelmed — so much, that the relationship you want to celebrate can start to feel the stress.

So many choices are ahead of you, and there are so many possibilities to designing your dream wedding in Denver. It can be hard to know where to begin. Stress levels go up and what should be a joyful time can begin to feel a little out of control.

I'm here to offer you some advice, and also some help:

Free Advice From Denver Wedding Experts

I know how overwhelming it can be to plan a wedding. Here is my wedding gift to you — a FREE “Ask A Wedding Expert Event” I'm hosting with L Elizabeth Wedding Planners. We are getting a group of some of Denver's best and top rated wedding experts — a caterer, an officiant, a wedding stylist, a musician, and a photographer — in the same room for you to just talk and ask questions in an informal, non-promotional atmosphere.

I want to do this for you because, amidst the overwhelm and chaos, the most important and essential things to do before you get married — like premarital counseling — can seem less relevant than centerpieces and cake flavors. My hope is that by getting guidance in the wedding planning process you are able to lower your stress, have the wedding you want, AND have time and energy left over to invest in premarital counseling. Because the point of all of this is to have a fantastic marriage.


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Ask the Denver Wedding Experts on 3/16: Learn More


Another Wedding Present For You:

Free Relationship Advice

(From a marriage counselor who has also been married for a long time).

Get professional premarital counseling, or take a premarital class. (And talking to your church pastor a couple of times doesn't count). Please. Your children will thank you for it.

I have been married for nearly 20 years now, and I can barely remember my own wedding. What I do know is that the relationship I have with my husband is the cornerstone of my life. The fabric of our marriage, like everyone else's, is made up of the way we talk to each other, they way we support each other emotionally, and the agreements we have made as a couple about the way we handle our shared life.

We are in a great place now. AND, like many young couples, we had many dramatic,  intense, and stupid arguments about how we talk to each other, how we needed to be supported emotionally, and stuff-of-life like housework and money before we figured it all out. The first few years we were married there were times I wasn't sure if we were going to make it, because it seemed like we had so many differences.

What I know now, after so many years of marriage (and becoming a marriage counselor) is that it simply doesn't need to be that hard. We would have been saved a lot of aggravation and heartache if we'd gotten involved in high quality premarital counseling before getting married. Learning how relationships actually work, how to communicate with each other, and creating agreements in advance would have made all the difference.

Thankfully, in our case it worked out. Many couples are not so lucky. We see many couples in marriage counseling 3, 4 and 5 years after the wedding still trying to hash all these things out. But unfortunately, fighting about it for years has created hurt feelings, resentment and mistrust that eroded their bond. Many times we can help these couples grow back together again. But sometimes it's too late.

So come to the “Ask The Denver Wedding Experts” event on March 16th to get free wedding planning advice, and also meet the premarital counselors on my team, Jessica Small, M.A., and Meagan Terry, M.A. (I'll be there too.) On top of everything else, you'll also leave with our “Five Essential Skills For Every Couple” mini training.

Hope to see you there,
Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

P.S. If you know you want premarital counseling and want a easy, convenient and inexpensive way to do it, check out our six week “Lifetime of Love” Premarital Class. The next session starts on Monday March 30, at 6pm!

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Planning a Wedding? Ask a Wedding Expert!

Toxic Relationship Patterns (And How To Overcome Them)

Toxic Relationship Patterns (And How To Overcome Them)

Have you ever noticed that you and your love seem to have the same fight over and over again? Ever wonder why? The truth is that there are very clear patterns that tend to take over relationships. Some will pull you closer together. But if a toxic pattern takes hold — look out!

I had a delightful time this week speaking with expert matchmaker and dating coach Jasbina Ahluwalia, founder of Intersections Match on her podcast, Intersections Match Radio. We talked all about relationship patterns, and how to overcome them.

We talked about which relationship patterns are the most destructive so that you can identify them quickly if they start to pop up. We also talked about specific skills and strategies you can start using today if you see them happening, so that you can stop the madness and repair your relationship.

We also talked about the difference between couples who invest in premarital counseling versus those who don't, and the impact that this can have on relationships down the road.

Because Jasbina is all about finding love (she is one of the country's top matchmakers and dating coaches, after all) we also talked about dating: I shared my top tips for what to look for if you want to create a love that lasts.

Toxic Relationship Patterns: Click Here to Listen Now!

Learn more about Jasbina's Matchmaking and Dating Coaching services for Indian singles:

The Biggest Mistake Engaged Couples Make…

The Biggest Mistake Engaged Couples Make…

… Is Skipping Premarital Counseling.

If you want a healthy, happy marriage that lasts a lifetime, premarital counseling is not optional. Trust me. I’ve been a Denver marriage counselor now for a decade, and I have worked with countless couples who struggled with enormously as a result of not addressing some problems prior to getting married.

Make premarital counseling a priority as you’re planning for your wedding. You can either do private premarital counseling one-on-one with a marriage counselor, or take a premarital counseling class. Just be sure you do it!

Here’s why:

1) Your relationship will be much more resilient.

Couples who go through good marriage counseling together have stronger marriages.  It's easier for couples who've done PMC to weather inevitable hardships together, because they've talked openly and honestly, in advance, about the areas of friction the'll encounter in married life, and how to handle them.

Knowing about the possible vulnerabilities of your relationship, and planning in advance for how to address them together will make it much more likely that you will be able to handle them effectively as a couple when they arise.

Think of premarital counseling as being kind of like a fire-drill for inevitable marriage issues you will have. You’ll both know exactly where the fire extinguisher is, what to do, and be able to put the fire out before it burns down your house.

2) You’ll learn practical skills that will make being married easier.

It can take a looooooong time — with lots of yelling and smashed plates — for couples to work out fairly basic life-skills together, like how talk to each other, how to manage finances, who is in charge of what around the house, how we handle boundaries with our families of origin, how we’re going to deal with religion once we have kids, and how we spend our time on the weekends. Even the simplest things can turn into fights when someone starts using “that tone” and constructive conversations about how to solve problems can start to feel very difficult.

It simply does not need to be that hard. Premarital counseling is all about teaching you skills need to solve problems when they first start to come up. Better yet, it allows you to come to agreements before they even become problems — allowing you to head yucky feeling fights off at the pass.

For example, couples who meet with us for premarital counseling do hands-on activities together like creating budgets, negotiating household responsibilities, learning about boundaries, and — most importantly — how to talk to each other, particularly in emotionally charged situations. Having these concrete skills in place before you get married will allow you to spend a lot more of your time in the few years of your marriage enjoying each other, and less time spent screaming at each other about who’s turn it is to take out the trash.

3) It will prevent you from having the “You’ve Changed” conversation 5 years from now.

Neither of you are perfect, and you both have hopes and dreams, opinions and preferences, habits and expectations that may be very different from each other. It’s not important that you are in exact alignment about every aspect of your life — you’re different people, and that’s a good thing. What is important that you have a full picture of who it is that you’re marrying so that you can decide in advance if the things they are bringing to the table are going to be okay with you in the long run.

Before you get married, it’s important to understand what those differences are, and whether the positive aspects of your relationship outweigh the negatives.  You need to know before you get married what things about your beloved that are probably NOT going to change, and whether you can live with them for the next 50 years.

Getting Married is a Big Deal. Do it Right.

Make premarital counseling a priority as you plan for the big day. Five years from now you won’t remember the flowers or what was in the clever gift-bags, but if you do premarital counseling you will likely be drawing upon the skills that you learned about how to have a happy and healthy relationship with each other.

Growing Self Counseling and Life Coaching offers private premarital counseling sessions with one of our expert marriage counselors. And this winter we're very pleased to be presenting our Premarital Counseling Class, “A Lifetime of Love.” It meets for 6 weeks on Mondays starting February 9th at 5pm, at our Cherry Creek location.

Learn more about our Denver Premarital Counseling Class: A Lifetime of Love