By Nicolle

It should be illegal for anyone to get married before they reach the age of 25.

I’m only marginally exaggerating. As I watch friends get engaged, hear of couples I know contemplating divorce and read article after article about how men and women are dissatisfied with their relationships, I wonder if anyone is really thinking about their age and maturity level when entering into what is supposed to be an eternal social contract.

According to a National Institutes of Health study, your brain (and mine) isn’t fully formed until around age 25 (it can vary from person to person). The part of the brain that understands, interprets and inhibits risky behavior isn’t completely developed until a person’s mid-20s.

That statistic is a little scary on multiple levels (especially since we give teenagers access to a driver’s license at the age of 16), but it also interacts with our decision-making process involving relational matters.

I’d classify deciding to commit myself to one person for life as a risky behavior (removes some of the romanticism, doesn’t it?). And if I’m going to make that decision at a point when my brain may or may not be fully mature, it’s hard to argue that I’m making the best decision.

Courtesy of Photoxpress

Couple brain immaturity with these Rutgers University study results:

  • 18-year-old newlyweds have a 75 percent divorce rate.
  • 20 to 24-year-olds have about a 40 percent divorce rate.
  • 25 to 29-year olds have about a 17 percent divorce rate.

Twenty-five seems to be the magic cutoff age – make your marital commitment after quarter life, and your likelihood of producing an enduring relationship increases. Could it potentially be linked to brain development?

My high school statistics teacher Mr. Domingos would tell me that correlation doesn’t prove causation; just because brain maturity and decreased divorce rates after age 25 seem to be related doesn’t mean they actually are. And even though he looked like Robin Williams, watched Gilmore Girls and kept marshmallow Peeps lined up on his chalkboard, Mr. Domingos would be right.

But, it’s still interesting to consider. And if I’m pledging my life to another person, I want to be pretty damn sure that I’m making my decision once I have all my brain capacity.