Chart Tells When to Marry (Oct, 1927)

Chart Tells When to Marry

How You Can Predict Your Chances for Happiness by New Scientific Method


A YOUNG friend of mine, a strapping lad of nineteen, was graduated from high school last June with the intention of entering an Eastern university this autumn. Employed in a seaside hotel during the summer, he met a charming girl of eighteen. They fell madly in love. Now they are to he married. Both are going to work to “support the family. It will be great fun,” they say. And they are confident their marriage will he one of endless happiness. Will it? A wealthy bachelor I know, a business executive approaching the half century mark, was introduced to a vivacious woman athlete exactly half his age at a dance not long ago. They became infatuated. He fully believes that at last he has met his ideal mate. So does she. Will their marriage be a blissful one?

Now, if any of the parties to either of these weddings should consult the oracle of scientific knowledge (which they are not likely to do) and ask: “Should we be married?” the answer would be something like this:

“It’s a terribly dangerous gamble. The odds are all against you. The chances are your marriage will go on the rocks, ending in divorce and misery.”

And that answer would be no guesswork prophecy of mere fortune telling. It would be based, not upon the stars, nor the flip of a card, but upon scientific conclusions reached through careful analysis of more than two thousand American marriages.

Those conclusions, reached after four authoritative investigations, show that marital happiness depends to a large extent on the ages at which couples marry; that from the age of the bride and bridegroom at marriage it is possible to forecast the future fortunes of the union with surprising accuracy. Age at marriage, of course, is only one of the factors affecting marital success. The physical, mental and emotional characteristics of the man and woman, not to mention financial and social conditions, play a part. But the investigations show age is a big factor.

The first inquiry was a study of 100 divorce cases in Cincinnati, Ohio, made by Miss M. E. McChristie and myself under direction of Judge Charles W. Hoffman. It revealed, for example, that a girl who marries before the age of twenty a man five or more years her senior is much more likely to seek a divorce than a woman who marries later and mates with a man nearer her own age. The second was a study by Dr. Katharine Bement Davis, eminent sociologist, who obtained confidential statements from 1000 women, of whom 116 said their marriages were unhappy. A third investigation was of child marriages, by Mary E. Richmond and Fred S. Hall. And the fourth was an analysis of a thousand marriages in Philadelphia by Wilmer Shields and myself. Of the thousand, 500 were cases in which couples had reached such difficulties that they had appealed to the Domestic Relations Court. The other 500 were taken from the records of marriage licenses.

From all these studies it has been possible to prepare a chart by which you can read the likely outcome of marriages at various ages.

ON THE numbered scales at the top and bottom of the chart make a check mark at the age of the prospective bride. Draw a vertical line connecting these two marks. Now, on the numbered scales at left and right of the chart make similar marks at the age of the prospective bridegroom. Connect these with a horizontal line. Note the letter of the area in which the two lines cross, then refer to the corresponding letter in the key list below. This will tell the future outlook for this particular couple. For example, if the bride is nineteen and the bridegroom twenty-two, the lines will cross in the D area. Look under D and you read:

“Very dangerous; both far too young.”

Observe that age combinations which fall in the all white area on the chart are most likely to bring happiness;

the dark areas are most hazardous. In general, the investigations have revealed that the ideal age for marriage is about twenty-nine for the man and twenty-four for the woman. Marriages in which either party is nineteen or younger are from ten to a hundred times as risky as those at the ideal age. Marriages of persons over thirty-eight are from two to five times as hazardous.


This scientific marriage result forecaster was devised by Hornell Hart, Associate Professor of Social Economy, Bryn Mawr College. The letter in the area where the age lines of a bridegroom and bride intersect indicates their chances of happiness. Here is the key: A—Ideal. B—Not so ideal; if in doubt wait year or two. C—Risky; wait a few years. D—Very dangerous; both far too young. E—Exceedingly dangerous; wait. F—Divorce probable. G—A little less hazardous than F. H—Girl far too young; foolhardy unless otherwise excellently suited. I—Good chance if otherwise well mated. J—Suffering and divorce likely. K—May succeed if otherwise unusually well matched. L—Good prospect, although they waited too long. M—Fair chance. N—Hardly a chance. O—Both far too young; wait at least four years. P—Man too young; wait year or two. Q—Good chance. R—Very slim chance. S—Slim chance. T—May succeed if otherwise adapted. U—Age difference too great; almost hopeless. V—A little less hopeless than U. In every case, white area is safest; dark, most hazardous

  1. Blurgle says: November 16, 200710:38 am

    This is insane. Did they really think that the age differential was as important as other matters such as poverty, abuse, adultery, and the like?

  2. Firebrand38 says: November 16, 20072:49 pm

    I’m sensing a lot of pain, Blurgle….

    I agree that this is insane. It’s a common abuse of statistics. This whole thing is based on “correlation implies causation” which is about as wrong as two left feet.

    Not to mention that the “findings” would necessarily change as society changed.

    This guy isn’t very credible to me anyway. He’s actually quite famous in woo-woo circles for paranormal research http://www.survivalafte…

    That said, with our divorce rate we shouldn’t throw too many stones. As an aside, here is a site from Missouri that corrects the often quoted “statistic” of a 50% divorce rate. http://missourifamilies…

  3. JMyint says: November 16, 20075:54 pm

    This looks to be a very complex logical falicy. The whole 50% divorce rate is a red herring as well. Though only about 20-25% of first marriages end in divorce, subsiquent marriages have a higher failure rate.

  4. Firebrand38 says: November 16, 20076:48 pm

    When I talk about correcting something and the word statistic is in quotes that pretty much says the same thing as a “red herring”. But thanks for playing.

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