“Best-Laid Plans”: Barriers to Meeting Marital Timing Desires Over the Life Course*

Rachel Arocho, Claire M. Kamp Dush

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Most youth desire to marry, and often around a certain age, but many individuals marry earlier or later than originally desired. Off-time marriage could have consequences for subsequent relationship stability and mental health. Whereas barriers to marriage goals in the short term have been studied extensively, predictors of meeting marital timing expectations over the life course are less well understood. This study examined possible barriers, including socioeconomic characteristics and family experiences, both background and formation, to meeting marital timing desires by age 40 using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 cohort (NLSY79). Multinomial logistic regression revealed that greater education, religiousness, cohabitation, and premarital childbearing were associated with delayed or forgone marriage, but associations varied by gender and the age at which respondents stated their expectations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)633-656
Number of pages24
JournalMarriage and Family Review
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 2 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship under [Grant No. DGE-1343012]. Any opinion, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. This research received support from the Population Research Training grant [T32 HD007168] and the Population Research Infrastructure Program [P2C HD050924] awarded to the Carolina Population Center at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. We would like to thank Drs. Tasha Snyder and Zhenchao Qian for their helpful comments and suggestions on this work.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, © 2020 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • adulthood
  • expectation
  • life course
  • marriage


Dive into the research topics of '“Best-Laid Plans”: Barriers to Meeting Marital Timing Desires Over the Life Course*'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this