Marriage Over 40: More Boomer Singletons Are Shedding Spinsterhood

By Josie Brown

Carrie Bradshaw in wedding dressMarcia Cross. Gloria Steinem. And of course, that television sensation, Carrie Bradshaw.

All of these high-profile women are part of a growing trend: women who marry for the first time after the age of forty.

While census records show that the number of Americans between the ages 45-55 who claim to have never married has doubled since 1990, 13% of all couples who do get married are 45 and older, as compared to only 1 percent twenty years ago. The the median age for a first marriage is at its highest point: men at 27.5 and women at 25.5.

pic2What has spurred this growth in later-life marriages?

First, baby boomer women, the majority of whom act as if they believe that old California adage that death is optional, aren’t letting a few years (let alone a couple of relationship detours) stand in the way of their dreams of walking down the aisle in a long white wedding gown, and into the open arms of Mr. Right.

Secondly, fortysomethings are in better shape than those of previous generations, and therefore not afraid to flaunt their sexuality. The new poster girl for “Fit at 40” is Olympic swimmer Dara Torres.

pic3And thirdly: Since watching your biological clock tick down is so last generation—and for that matter, baby bumps de rigeur with over-40 well-toned yummy mummies—why race to the altar with your twentysomething Mr. Right Now, as opposed to waiting for a Mr. Right who pleasantly surprises you by exceeding all those expectations you were resigned into thinking could never be met in the first place?

If you’re 40, but ready for an altared state, consider these do’s and don’ts:

1. Do roam beyond your comfort zone. 

If you don’t know where to start, go to the Internet. I man, let’s face it: The digital era has opened up your world, too. According to Yahoo Personals, there was a 33% increase from January 2006 to November 2007 among users ages 45 and over who say they have never been married. And according to Match.com since 2005, almost 10% of its new members 45 and older and who have never been married. In fact, these now make up almost 14% of its member base. If it’s worked for them, it can work for you, too.

2. Don’t listen to the naysayers.

Anyone who says “you’re wasting your time,” or “you have no reason to get married now that kids aren’t any option,” or that “all the good men are gone,” has already given up. If they’re happy with where they are on their journey, fine, great for them. But if you’re not, then why follow the same path for the rest of your life? Or, as Einstein put it: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

3. Do take the initiative.

If you see a guy who looks interesting but hasn’t made his move, make one yourself. Some men over 40 haven’t married before now because they’re shy. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t interesting. You won’t know until you ask.

4. Don’t give up after a couple of bummer dates.


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