Those higher divorce rates only disappear when people reach their mid-20s, she noted.
Why are marriages at younger ages so much more fragile? "One of the arguments is that testosterone levels in young men are too high," Waite said, "and they're related to all sorts of behaviors that make men bad husbands -- infidelity, abuse, difficulty getting along with people. Another argument is that young people are still sorting things out, getting settled and figuring out who they are. If you marry quite young, you don't know who you're marrying and that person will probably change."
As for the idea of limiting child marriage, Waite said that "the issue is when women are forced or pressured to marry early," such as in the South and in religious communities. "It's a real problem."
For more on mental illness, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
SOURCES: Yann Le Strat, M.D., psychiatrist, Louis-Mourier Hospital, Colombes, France and adjunct scientist, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto; Linda J. Waite, Ph.D., professor, sociology, University of Chicago; Sept. 2011, Pediatrics
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