UTAH (ABC4) – It’s no secret that young marriages are prevalent throughout the Beehive State. Many individuals living elsewhere in the U.S. often view Utahns marriage patterns as a strange case of too-much-too-soon. However, a new study titled “State of Our Unions 2022” implies that those married in their early 20s have stronger relationships than those marrying over the age of 25.

Despite the consensus that one must reach a certain level of maturity following a full experience of the single life before they’re engaged, the report finds no reasons to favor “capstone marriages” (over the age of 25) over “cornerstone marriages” (those married between the ages of 20 and 24).

The report was a joint effort by the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, the Wheatley Institution, and BYU’s School of Family Life.

“We know that teenage marriage continues to be a significant risk factor. But, after that, age is not the strong indicator of success in marriage that many believe it to be, and yet many couples who marry in their early and mid-20s are swimming against a cultural tide that says they are too young and immature to be taking such a consequential step,” said Alan Hawkins, a professor in the School of Family Life at BYU and the primary author of the report. “Instead of accepting this as preordained, society ought to consider that cornerstone marriages can be just as nurturing, stable, and satisfying as capstone marriages – if not more so for many couples.”

Below follows highlights of the report:

  • Twenty percent of young adults in America currently marry between the ages of 20 to 24, while an additional 25% desire to be married by those ages.
  • Early-married husbands are more satisfied with their marriages than later-married husbands (81% vs 71%) and are more sexually satisfied (63% vs 49%).
  • Early-married wives are only a little more satisfied with their marriages than later-married wives (73% vs 70%) but are generally more sexually satisfied (62% vs 51%).
  • There were no significant differences between capstone and cornerstone marriages in regards to household division of labor, a sense of teamwork, financial values, relationship worries, or couple distress.
  • Similarly, there were no major demographic or religious differences between capstone and cornerstone marriages, although early-weds tend to be less educated.
  • Younger generations today are living together at the same rate as older generations in the past, but they are leaving marriage out of the equation.
  • The median age for marriage has increased from 23 in 1970 to about 30 in 2021 for men, and from 21 in 1970 to about 28 in 2021 for women.

In other states outside of Utah, it’s becoming the norm to delay marriage. However, the report provides evidence that this could lead to a lengthy period of individualism in young adulthood which can be difficult to flip at marriage. Additionally, later marriages lead to patterns of “paradoxical marriage preparation” or actions that are associated with an increased risk of divorce, such as entertaining multiple sexual partners.

“Twentysomething marriage is not for everybody,” added Brad Wilcox, Director of the National Marriage Project. “It requires an extra measure of maturity and intentionality. But, surprisingly, this report finds that those who marry in their early twenties are somewhat more likely to report that they are happy and sexually satisfied compared to those who marry later.”