When we think of Mormons many think of young, successful marriages, plenty of children, and a strong devotion to the Church. Some people may also think of polygamy, hippies, and corruption.
Regardless of which way you look at it, there are many changes happening in the Mormon Church today, especially when it comes to Mormon marriage age. Some are all for the changes, while others are fiercely against it.
In this article, we’re taking a look at the typical Mormon marriage age and some of the statistics that go along with it.
Why Do Mormons Marry Younger?
There could be a few reasons why Mormons tend to get married at a younger age. One of the common reasons is the fact that men are expected to enter full-time mission work at 18-19 years old. This would mean that when they return at 19-21 years old they are typically ready to start getting serious about their relationships.
Young women tend to marry even younger because they’re not required to go on a mission which means they are still at home during that time. It isn’t uncommon for a man to return from his mission and marry a woman who is 3-4 years younger because she is looking for a man who has already completed his mission work.
Men grow a lot during that time and Mormon women are looking for a mature man who is ready for children and is committed to the faith.
Another reason could be social pressure. There’s a lot of pressure in the Mormon Church to get married and build a family. It’s part of Mormon doctrine and something they take very seriously. Even though the average age for Mormon marriage has consistently increased over time, it’s still younger than the national average.
The last reason is a more personal one – the fact that young Mormon men and women are honest with themselves and realize they have physical desires.
The longer you sit around and put off marriage, the harder you are making it to stay true to your covenant with God to remain pure. For this reason, many will marry at a younger age so they don’t have to wait to fulfill their desires and can still stay true to their moral beliefs.
Mormon Divorce Rates: Compared
According to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints the average divorce rate for a man who was married in the temple is 5.4% and 6.5% for women. Of those who are Mormon but married outside the temple, the divorce rate is 27.8% for men and 32.7% for women.
Why is divorce rate so much higher for those who are married outside the temple? Could it be that the temple carries some form of spiritual bond or perhaps those who were married in the temple have more resources to work out any issues they may encounter in their marriage?
I believe the reason for temple marriage success has much more to do with the commitment of the individuals above all else. If you’re regularly attending church each Sunday and you’re committed to getting married in the temple, chances are you take your faith very seriously. If you have a devotion to your faith then you’ll do whatever it takes to have a healthy marriage and see it through until the end.
If we compare these divorce numbers to other groups, those who confess no religion have the highest rate of divorce – as high as 45%. That’s nearly 50% of all marriages will end in divorce for people who claim to have no religion.
The lowest divorce rate, besides Latter-day Saint couples, is found among Catholic men which is in fact less than that of Mormons who are married outside the temple. Approximately 20% of Catholic men and 23% of Catholic women experience divorce in their lives.
Why Are Mormon Marriages More Successful?
The age old question is why are Mormon marriages more successful? Why are Mormons who get married in the temple less likely to get divorced? There are many different factors at play here and it’s in my opinion the same reason that all marriages connected to Christian denominations have a better success rate.
I believe among the Catholics who get divorced, many of them may have not been married in the church. You can claim that you’re a religious person without actually practicing the faith or going to church.
Typically those people don’t have as strong of a faith, they don’t have a close relationship with God, and they don’t take their faith seriously. As a result, they may not understand that the sacrament of marriage is something you shouldn’t take lightly and that divorce is forever.
Another apparent factor is sex before marriage. Many statistics state that living together before marriage can have a negative impact on the success of the marriage and increase the chances of getting divorced by as much as 40%.
Ironically though, it’s believed that divorce is less likely to happen if you marry later in life rather than early. But, that makes it harder for Mormons and anyone for that matter to stick to their covenant. The longer you wait, the harder it becomes to fight physical urges and the more temptations you will encounter.
So, to make a long story short, there is no universal answer to the question. No one really knows why Mormon marriages outlast other religions and why the temple plays such an important role in the success of a marriage. It likely has to do with the individual couples commitment to their faith and ultimately, to their partner.
It’s also worth mentioning that Mormons are less likely to engage in activities that could possibly lead to a divorce. Mormons are less likely to watch pornography, commit adultery, or drink alcohol. All three of these are known to cause issues in a marriage.
Teachings From Mormon Leaders
In the LDS Proclamation to the World, the church has laid out clear guidelines for what they expect of people who marry in the temple. Having a set of rules to follow and expectations to adhere to could make a difference in the success rate of their marriages (paragraphs inserted for readability):
“THE FAMILY is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.
Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.
By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.”
Why Are Average Marriage Ages Increasing?
There are many reasons for this and as you dive into them, it becomes more and more clear why. Let’s start first with the divorce numbers that we’ve been talking about throughout this whole article.
It’s likely your parents’ generation didn’t experience a high divorce rate. Our grandparents were also more likely to stay married and they got married young and started a family right away.
Today, it seems like everyone is divorced at least once if not twice. This could be showing younger generations that marriage isn’t necessary because it likely ends in failure anyway. It might be why fewer couples get married nowadays, choosing instead to live together as a civil union.
Another reason goes along with the previous point. Singles are more choosy than ever about who they marry and are often putting careers first. At one time, you fell in love fast, got married fast, and had kids fast. It didn’t even matter if you spent a lot of time getting to know the person. Perhaps that’s what has led to all the divorces? Will millennials break the increase in divorce? Time will tell.
The same is happening in the Mormon community as they’re seeing increases in divorces as well but at a much slower rate. Young Mormon men are starting to put things like school and careers ahead of the family. While there’s nothing wrong with that, it does go against Mormon doctrine.
What Is the Youngest You Can Marry?
The majority of states require an individual to be 18 years old to get married or 16 with parental consent. There are a few odd balls such as Massachusetts and New Hampshire. In Massachusetts you can get married at 12 years old with parental consent and the age is 13 in New Hampshire.
In Utah and Idaho where The Church of Latter Day Saints is very prevalent, the marriage age is 18 or 16 with parental consent as well.
Is Polygamy Still Practiced?
The Church renounced the act of polygamy (having more than one wife) in 1890, though polygamy has continued to be a part of Mormon practice. In fact, it’s still believed that there are thousands of practicing polygamists within the Latter Day Saint community today.
Many polygamists have moved out of the United States, going to places like Mexico and Canada. At one time as many 25-30% of Mormons were polygamists.
While the Mormon marriage age is a bit younger than the rest of the population, that doesn’t change the fact that they have a high rate of success in their marriages. Perhaps it’s because of their strong faith, their love for community, and their passion for their families.
We can only hope that these numbers trend in the right direction and successful marriage continues to be common practice within the faith for years to come.