Mormons typically marry young, often in their early 20s. This is due to the emphasis the Mormon church puts on marriage and family. Let’s take a closer look at when Mormons get married.
Typical Age for Mormon Marriages
The average age for first marriage among Mormon women is 21 years old. For Mormon men, the average age is 23 years old. This is significantly younger than the national average in the United States, which is 27 years old for women and 29 years old for men.
There are several reasons Mormons tend to marry so young:
- Mormon doctrine emphasizes the importance of marriage and family as a central part of God’s plan.
- Mormons are encouraged to marry and start families early.
- Mormon singles wards (congregations) provide many opportunities for young single Mormons to socialize and meet potential spouses.
- Mormon culture encourages traditional gender roles, with early marriage and childbearing seen as ideal.
- The Mormon emphasis on chastity before marriage also provides motivation to marry early.
While 21-23 years old is the average, it’s not uncommon for Mormons to get married even earlier, in their late teens or very early 20s, especially in heavily Mormon parts of the western US like Utah.
Church Guidance on Marriage Age
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not have any official doctrine dictating the ideal age for members to get married. However, Mormon leaders have provided guidance encouraging members to carefully consider marriage readiness before getting married:
- Be mature enough for the responsibilities of marriage.
- Complete education goals first.
- Achieve financial stability.
- Develop a strong testimony of the gospel.
However, this guidance is balanced with the understanding that some may be ready for marriage earlier than others. Local church leaders work with couples and families to prayerfully consider each situation individually.
While Mormon doctrine does not mandate early marriage, cultural factors in certain Mormon communities can promote marriage at younger ages. These include:
- Utah culture – The concentration of Mormons in Utah creates an echo chamber effect that amplifies the importance of early marriage in the Mormon community.
- Family expectations – Longstanding traditions of early marriage in many Mormon families, with pressure on younger generations to follow suit.
- Religious lifestyle – The Mormon lifestyle of no premarital sex, word of wisdom prohibitions on alcohol, tobacco creates a culture focused on marriage and family rather than casual dating.
These cultural influences can affect when Mormons decide to get married, separate from direct religious teachings.
Education and Career Impacts
Early marriage patterns among Mormons can influence educational and career paths as well:
- Many Mormon women marry before completing their degrees, though many return to school after having children.
- Men may feel pressure to establish careers quickly to support new families.
- However, Mormon women have high workforce participation, encouraged to balance family and careers.
These factors lead many young Mormons to pursue paths allowing for quick workforce entry, such as trade certificates or applied technology degrees. The emphasis is more on preparing for family responsibilities than maximizing career ambitions.
There are some gender differences to note in typical Mormon marriage ages:
- Men tend to marry slightly later than women, with less pressure to marry immediately after high school or in the early college years.
- Women are encouraged to value motherhood as a divine role, leading to cultural emphasis on marrying and having children at younger ages.
- However, unmarried Mormon men over 25 and unmarried women over 23 are considered “menaces to society” and face increased family and cultural pressure to marry.
These gender norms influence cultural expectations around appropriate marriage timelines for Mormon men and women respectively.
Exceptions and Individual Circumstances
While early 20s is the average, Mormon doctrine does not prescribe one ideal age for marriage. Some exceptions and individual circumstances include:
- Mormon couples who marry later after completing education, establishing careers, or due to individual choice.
- Single adult Mormons who do not marry at all, often remaining active in single adult wards.
- Converts who join the church later in life and have different cultural backgrounds.
- Interfaith marriages with a Mormon and non-Mormon spouse.
These situations demonstrate a diversity of Mormon marriage timelines, though social and cultural norms still predominantly emphasize marriage in the early 20s.
Average Mormon marriage ages can vary by region as well. Some patterns include:
- Lower ages (early 20s) in highly Mormon areas of Utah and Idaho.
- Older ages in areas with fewer Mormons, like outside the western US.
- Highest ages in countries with required military service for men.
- Lower ages in international areas with fewer educational opportunities.
These geographic distinctions demonstrate that cultural factors beyond just religious doctrine impact typical Mormon marriage timelines.
Changes Over Time
The average age for first marriage among Mormons has increased slightly over time:
|Time Period||Women’s Age||Men’s Age|
This reflects broader societal trends of delaying marriage. However, the ages remain significantly lower than national averages.
Reasons for Increase in Age
There are several reasons the average Mormon marriage age has slightly increased over time:
- More Mormons pursuing higher education.
- Women delaying childbearing for careers.
- Economic factors making marriage/childbearing more difficult.
- Less pressure from family and church leaders for very early marriages.
But while the average age has increased slightly, it remains much lower than US national averages due to the importance of marriage in Mormon theology and culture.
Perspective of Mormon Leaders
Modern Mormon leaders have acknowledged the increase in average marriage age but emphasize the continued importance of marriage and family. Perspectives include:
- Church President Russell Nelson encouraging members not to “postpone marriage unduly”.
- Leaders teaching it is unfavorable to remain single past 30 solely to pursue careers or education.
- Emphasis on balancing family and other pursuits, not delaying family for individual goals.
This shows Mormon leaders recognize economic factors delaying marriage but continue upholding early marriage and childbearing as ideal, within individual circumstances.
While averages have increased slightly, Mormons still predominantly marry at much younger ages compared to national trends. Cultural emphasis on marriage and family and church teachings upholding early marriage influence this pattern. However, exceptions occur based on individual circumstances. And geographic, gender, and other cultural factors demonstrate complexity in analyzing typical Mormon marriage timelines.