Prefer a free rein to tying the knot?
By Christie Wilson
Advertiser Neighbor Island Editor
Men and women in Hawai'i tend to wait longer before getting married than couples in most other states, according to Census Bureau estimates released today.
For Hawai'i men, the estimated median age at first marriage is 27.8; for women, 25.7.
The median age for first marriages in the U.S. is 26.7 for men and 25.1 for women.
Utah has the youngest median marriage age — 21.9 for women and 23.9 for men. At the other end of the scale, men and women in Washington, D.C., both wait until they are about 30.
Honolulu newlyweds Stacie Sato-Sugimoto and Anson Sugimoto, both 28, wanted to finish work on their master's degrees from Chaminade University before tying the knot in May. The downtown couple lived together for three years before marrying.
"Mostly we just both wanted to know we were right for each other. Marriage was always talked about and we did the whole looking-for-the-ring thing, but it was just a matter of waiting until we graduated and giving ourselves time to plan our wedding," said Sato-Sugimoto, who has a master's degree in counseling psychology. Her husband's degree is in marriage and family therapy.
Career focus is another reason Hawai'i singles delay marriage, said Deedee DeSoto, founder of Honolulu's Party of Six agency, which arranges dinner dates and introductions for the unmarried.
And it's not only twentysomethings who are putting off marriage: DeSoto said she has a lot of clients in their 40s and 50s who have never been wed.
"A lot of people are even afraid to say 'marriage.' When I ask them if they're looking for a casual or long-term relationship or marriage, they'll say long-term. They're not even thinking marriage," DeSoto said.
"They're working on their careers, unless they meet the right person and that person can be flexible enough to deal with them in their career goals."
Hawai'i's high cost of living may be another factor delaying that walk down the aisle. "People are more focused on becoming successful and financially stable, and for some people, that's hard to do when you're married," she said.
Realtor assistant Kristin Anderson, 26, of Mililani, said she's not ready to settle down yet. "I don't desperately need to be married at this point. A lot of it is that I don't know what I want to do with my life yet and a lot of it is that I want to fulfill my goals and dreams instead of going straight to marriage," she said.
Licensed psychologist and social worker Mitzi Gold, who has a Kapahulu practice, said couples are more cautious about making sure they have the right match.
"It's really healthy if people hold off getting married in their 20s and use that as a time to discover who they are ... ," Gold said.
Another reason might be "there is less stigma with people living together and maybe even having kids before they get married."
Later marriage also has been associated with higher levels of education, and that may explain why some Hawai'i couples delay matrimony. An earlier Census Bureau survey estimated that a quarter of the state's population age 25 and older has a college degree, placing Hawai'i 16th among states in that regard.
The latest Census Bureau report analyzed data from the American Community Survey from 2000 to 2003.
Reach Christie Wilson at email@example.com.