TIME Marriage

50 Perfect Songs for Your First Wedding Dance

Wedding
Mallory Samson—Getty Images

Waltz off into wedded bliss to one of these favorite first-dance songs

This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

The first dance is one of the most anticipated and intimate moments of a wedding, so it’s no surprise that finding the right tune can feel challenging, even downright daunting. Well, start here: To narrow down your choices, we asked Real Simple’s Facebook fans to share their own first dance songs, then tallied up the 1,500+ responses to determine their 50 most popular tunes. Want to hear them? Log in to Spotify for our free playlist.

1. “At Last,” Etta James

2. “Colour My World,” Chicago*

3. “Amazed,” Lonestar

4. “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” Elvis Presley

5. “Unchained Melody,” the Righteous Brothers

6. “From This Moment On,” Shania Twain

7. “Could I Have This Dance,” Anne Murray

8. “Bless the Broken Road,” Rascal Flatts

9. “Unforgettable,” Nat King Cole

10. “My Best Friend,” Tim McGraw

(MORE: Why You Might Be Ruining Your Marriage Before You Even Tie the Knot)

11. “Have I Told You Lately?,” Van Morrison

12. “Wonderful Tonight,” Eric Clapton

13. “By Your Side,” Sade

14. “Endless Love,” Lionel Richie and Diana Ross

15. “The Way You Look Tonight,” Frank Sinatra

16. “When You Say Nothing At All,” Alison Krauss

17. “Just the Way You Are,” Billy Joel

18. “Always and Forever,” Heatwave

19. “What a Wonderful World,” Louis Armstrong

20. “All of Me,” John Legend

(MORE: Inspiring Stories of Marriage That Survived)

21. “I Only Have Eyes for You,” the Flamingos

22. “I’ll Be,” Edwin McCain

23. “Lucky,” Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat

24. “Always,” Atlantic Starr

25. “We’ve Only Just Begun,” the Carpenters

26. “Into the Mystic,” Van Morrison

27. “In My Life,” the Beatles*

28. “Let’s Stay Together,” Al Green

29. “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” Aerosmith

30. “God Gave Me You,” Blake Shelton

(MORE: 5 True Love Stories)

31. “I Could Not Ask for More,” Edwin McCain

32. “Your Song,” Elton John

33. “You Are the Best Thing,” Ray LaMontagne

34. “It Had to Be You,” Harry Connick Jr.

35. “You & Me,” Dave Matthews Band

36. “The Luckiest,” Ben Folds

37. “She’s Everything,” Brad Paisley

38. “Lady in Red,” Chris De Burgh

39. “You and Me,” Lifehouse

40. “Grow Old With You,” Adam Sandler

(MORE: Mother-Daughter Relationship)

41. “I Won’t Give Up,” Jason Mraz

42. “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” Frankie Valli

43. “Feels Like Home,” Chantal Kreviazuk

44. “Fly Me to the Moon,” Frank Sinatra

45. “Annie’s Song,” John Denver

46. “Come Away With Me,” Norah Jones

47. “God Only Knows,” the Beach Boys

48. “Free,” Zac Brown Band

49. “Stand by Me,” Ben E. King

50. “Yellow,” Coldplay

*Unfortunately, this song is not available for streaming on Spotify.

(MORE: 5 Things You Should Know About Your Mom)

MONEY Careers

Career Advice for the New Mrs. Clooney

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Robino Salvatore—Getty Images

Amal Alamuddin is now Amal Clooney. Chances are the name change won't hurt the human-rights attorney's career, but less famous wives may want to do some planning before adopting a spouse's name in the workplace.

Just back in the office after getting hitched to an actor in Venice, London-based human-rights attorney Amal Alamuddin is going by a new name: Mrs. Clooney. While the former Ms. Alamuddin, 36, has established a professional reputation under her own moniker, it’s safe to say that being identified as the woman who got the sexiest man alive to settle down won’t damage her career prospects.

But what about accomplished women who aren’t boldface names by marriage or—like Kim Kardashian, who announced earlier this summer that henceforth she would be known as Mrs. West—boldface names in their own right? Suddenly appearing in the workplace as Mrs. So-and-So can cause some confusion among clients and colleagues.

As we noted when Kim made it official, the fact that women are marrying later, often after they’ve spent years establishing a career, can make the change to a new name more complicated—and risky. If you’re considering going by a different handle in the workplace, here are eight steps to ease the transition without hurting your prospects.

1. Hedge your bets. Think about how costly it would be to cut off your connection to the body of work or marketing that’s tied to your maiden name. If that worries you, opt for a more moderate approach. “The easy out is to keep your maiden name at work and in professional contexts, but use your spouse’s last name socially,” says Danielle Tate, founder of MissNowMrs.com, a site that helps women change their legal name.

Another compromise is to use both surnames, either by making your maiden name your middle name, using both last names, or creating a hyphenated last name. Kim took this approach initially. Shortly after exchanging vows with Kayne, she changed the name on her social media accounts to Kim Kardashian West. And just as Kim has done, you can use both surnames for a brief transition period to help people get used to your new identity before dropping your maiden name.

2. Get help from your company. If you plan on making a complete switch, reach out for advice. “You don’t have to figure it out all on your own. You’re not the only who has gotten married or changed your name,” says Michelle Friedman, a career coach who specializes in women’s career advancement.

A good first move is to check in with your HR department, which may have policies in place outlining exactly what changes you need to make to your beneficiary designations, insurance benefits, company email and directory listing, and tax and Social Security forms. Aside from offering help with name-change paperwork, HR may be able to offer advice about managing contacts, as well as insights into how others in your industry have handled the change successfully (ask co-workers too).

3. Don’t make it a surprise. Give co-workers and clients ample notice about your name change to avoid confusion, especially if contact info such as your email address will be updated. Sandra Green, a U.K.-based executive coach, recommends reaching out a week to ten days before the wedding.

One easy way: Put a small note in your email signature in advance, says Julie Cohen, a Philadelphia career and personal coach. It’s an unobtrusive reminder and a good way to get people familiar with the change.

Not everyone in your email contact list needs to know. Run through your list of clients and sort them into groups based on the closeness of your working relationship. Some you’ll just need to include in a quick email blast, while others you should talk to directly.

“Obviously you don’t want to get on the phone with everyone, but in certain important client relationships this may be good to do,” says Friedman.

4. Stay on top of the technology. After you’ve made the switch, set up forwarding on your previous email account, or write an automatic reply that includes your new contact info. This way you don’t miss any important messages, and people have a longer grace period to update their contact info and adjust to your new name.

5. Go back in history. Give former employers and references a heads-up about this change as well. This way if you’re applying for a new job, your background check will go smoothly, and you won’t run the risk of having people mistakenly deny that you worked for their company.

6. Use this as an excuse to network. Send an email to everyone in your work circle. “Whenever someone changes jobs or retires, they send these emails about good news,” says Cohen. “Do the same with this.”

This also gives you a perfect excuse to remind your network what you’re up to. “You always want to remain in contact,” says Friedman. “But sometimes it’s hard to think of a natural reason for reaching out. This gives you a celebratory excuse.”

You could even send this blast twice, says Green. First a few days before the wedding and again after you return from your honeymoon, when the change is in place.

7. Make yourself easy to find. Think about how people locate you and your business. Is it through search, a review website, social media, or all of them? Update all your bios.

When you add your new name on sites like LinkedIn, keep a vestige of your old name. That can help people find you during the transition period. “Include your maiden name on social,” says Cohen. “If people are finding you by search it will serve you best to keep connected to both names.”

If you had a more common name or are making the switch to a more popular surname, adds Tate, having both names online could even help you come up higher in search results.

8. Update your memberships. To further help your new name show up high in search results and build up credibility for your new moniker, Friedman recommends having any professional organizations, alumni associations, company or community boards, or other groups you belong to change your name on their membership roles.

If you hold a leadership position or are listed elsewhere on an association website, perhaps for winning an award, request that the name change appear throughout. Ask to have any older content that can easily be altered, such as a post listing you as a guest speaker at a conference, updated too.

 

MONEY Ask the Expert

How Late-Life Marriage Can Hurt Your Retirement Security

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Robert A. Di Ieso, Jr.

Q: I am 66 and my partner is 63. We are thinking of getting married. How long must we be married for her to be eligible for spousal benefits based on my earnings? Neither of us have filed for Social Security yet. – Mark Sander, Indianapolis, IN

A: It’s wonderful to find love at any age. But for older couples, the decision to marry can have a big impact on your retirement finances, particularly when it comes to Social Security. Some experts say that may be one reason why co-habitation among older people is on the rise. According to the U.S. Census, nearly three million people age 50 and older live together, up from 1.2 million in 2000. “Many seniors live together instead of getting married because of money issues,” says Steve Vernon, author of Recession-Proof Your Retirement Years.

The good news is that if you do tie the knot, you only need to be married for one year for your wife to collect Social Security spousal benefits.

Still, it may not be a good idea for your wife to apply for benefits right away, says Vernon. At age 66 you are what Social Security deems full retirement age. But for your wife to collect full spousal benefits (50% of your full Social Security monthly payment) she will need to be full retirement age too.

If your wife files for Social Security before she reaches 66, she will get less than she would receive than if she waited till full retirement age. How much less? If your wife files for spousal benefits at 63, she will get 37.5% of your Social Security. At 64, that rises to 42% and at 65, 46%.

Waiting to collect benefits also means a higher payout for you. You can boost your Social Security paycheck by 8% each year you wait until age 70. A method called file and suspend allows you to file for your Social Security benefits so your wife can start collecting spousal benefits but you suspend receiving your benefits till you are 70.

Also be aware that if either of you has been married before, remarrying could mean losing alimony or the survivor benefits of a pension. “You really need to think strategically about how to maximize your Social Security benefits,” says Vernon.

There are a number of calculators and advice services that can help you figure the claiming strategy that’s best for your situation. Earlier this year, 401(k) advice provider Financial Engines released a Social Security income calculator that’s free and easy to use. The calculator sifts through thousands of claiming strategies to come up with a recommended option. For $40, you can use the Maximize My Social Security online software to evaluate more detailed scenarios. You may also want to consult a financial planner who’s familiar with Social Security rules.

Marriage can have a hazardous effect on other parts of your financial life, says Vernon. You will legally be on the hook for your spouse’s medical bills, and there may be sticky issues when it comes to inheritance. In some cases, married couples also face higher taxes, depending on your income and tax bracket.

Whether you get married is a personal decision, but by choosing the right financial plan, you’re more likely to enjoy a happy retirement together.

Do you have a personal finance question for our experts? Write to AskTheExpert@moneymail.com.

More from Money’s Ultimate Retirement Guide:

How does working affect my Social Security benefits?

Will my spouse and kids receive Social Security benefits when I die?

Are my Social Security payouts taxed?

TIME Marriage

Here Are My Top 3 Relationship Tips

Hand holding
Getty Images

There are so many permutations of "successful" relationships

xojane

This story originally appeared on xoJane.com.

Sunday was my 7-year wedding anniversary.

This is awesome, and Ed and I have some little plans for celebrating. We usually go to the Maker Faire in Atlanta, but events have conspired to stick us a little closer to home this time around.

That’s okay — it’s not the trip that makes our anniversary a celebration, it’s the time we get to spend together.

Man, that was revolting, right? Every now and then, Ed and I are that couple, without even meaning to be.

Traditional and modern gifts are generally copper, wool, or desk sets — but, I ask you, since when is a desk set the height of romance? We’re framing this as our Lucky Number 7 anniversary instead and though we aren’t going to Vegas, maybe we’ll buy some lottery tickets.

What we won’t do is spend a lot of time reflecting about what makes our relationship work, because we pretty much already know that. The basic principles haven’t changed since we started dating 9 years ago — which seems like super forever when I think about it in those terms. And so now I will tell you the top three things that have worked for us when it comes to having a happy relationship, which we try to work on all the time.

I think these things are applicable to any kind of relationship.

1. Enjoying each other’s company is essential.

It’s not that we don’t like other people. We love hanging out with other people, both together and individually. But Ed and I have a really good time even if it’s just the two of us giving each other a hard time as we drive around town.

It’s not just the in-jokes and all the laughing. It’s not just that our interests often overlap. It’s that when he wants to talk about predecimalization British coins or show off the miniatures he just painted, I have reasons to care about those things just because he cares. It’s that when I am nerding out about Dr. Martens or color theory, he likes me enough to look at the 27th pair of boots I’ve pointed out and ask if they come in the right color.

2. Communication is hard but no one who says it is vital is joking.

Ed and I don’t really fight — we just have difficult conversations whenever anything comes up that needs discussing. Sometimes it is the least fun thing ever but it means nothing gets left to fester. It’s the unaddressed stuff that’ll make you the most miserable, I think, so addressing it all efficiently is relationship best practices.

There are limits, of course. We don’t have conversations about the hard stuff until we’re both fed. No reason to get divorced when eating an apple could have saved the day, right? Also, it’s important to give each other a little bit of space if something is extra hard to talk about.

I love to talk in the car as we drive around. That way we’re both there, having to be present. But also we can arrive somewhere and just be done with the talking for a little while.

3. Don’t judge your relationship against anyone else’s.

No matter what, playing keep-up with a bunch of “shoulds” just makes your life and relationship more difficult. Don’t look at the couples around you as some sort of scale for where you should be — every person is different so, of course, every relationship is different.

There are so many permutations of “successful” relationship — pick something that works for you and your partner regardless of whether or not it looks like other relationships around you.

And remember that your partner doesn’t have to be romantically involved with you. Long-term roommates benefit just as much from communicating with each other as other couples do, for example.

Tell me what you do to sustain your relationships, please.

Marianne Kirby is a Weekend Editor at xoJane.com.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME relationships

Why Your Grandparents Are Divorcing

Dan Chung—Dan Chung / Aurora Photos

And why you might need to worry about it

For several years now, sociologists have noticed that education is a great protector against divorce. College-educated couples are about half as likely to divorce as high-school-educated couples. In fact, the rate of divorce among the college-educated is lower than it was 30 years ago. All except in one case: people older than 50.

Nearly 1 in 4 people who is experiencing divorce in the U.S. is over 50. Almost 1 in 10 is older than 64. People over the age of 50 are twice as likely to divorce as their forebears were as recently as 1990. And for that age, education doesn’t matter: those with degrees and those without are having the divorce papers drawn up in equal numbers.

Some of this can be attributed to the fact that older people are often on their second or third marriages, which traditionally are less stable than first marriages. But a lot aren’t. “More than half of gray divorces are to couples in first marriages,” write Susan L. Brown and I-Fen Lin in a new paper for a Council on Contemporary Families symposium, adding that even more than half of these late-life breakups were between couples who had been married more than 20 years.

You’d think after two decades of living in close quarters, people would have ironed out their differences. And you could well be right, but that doesn’t mean they’re happy. “Many of these marriages have not been marked by severe discord,” says the study Gray Divorce: A Growing Risk Regardless of Class or Education, which went online on Oct 8. Instead, it seems like empty-nesters, having finished that joint project known as raising the kids, now find they don’t have so much in common. And since divorce can be free (at least theoretically) of finger-pointing and blame — no-fault divorce is now available in every state — they go their separate ways once the children are grown.

Brown doesn’t think there’s a direct link between no-fault divorce and the uptick in elderly divorces, but rather that they are both part of the same reshaping of marriage that has been under way for several decades. “Marriage is now more individualized,” she says. “For couples who aren’t happy, divorce is an acceptable solution. Neither partner has to be ‘at fault’ — instead, the couple could have simply grown apart.”

The other new realities that make splitting up an increasingly attractive option for the AARP crowd are the fact that women are more financially independent and don’t need to stay with a spouse who really gets on their nerves, nor do their spouses need to stay with them, and the increasing length of time people are living after they stop being in paid employment. “They might spend another 15 to 20 years together beyond retirement, which is a long time if you don’t love someone anymore,” says Brown. Add to that the low stigma attached to divorce and the high level of thrill people expect their marriages to provide (plus let’s throw in, say, the way their spouse crunches on grapes), and it just seems easier to cut bait.

(MORE: Your Facebook Habits Can Help Predict if You’ll Get a Divorce)

But while gray divorce is not bad for children in the way an earlier divorce can be, it still has a significant cost. Older divorced people tend to have only a fifth of the wealth that older married couples or even older widowed folk have. “The net wealth of those who were widowed after age 50 is more than twice as high as the net wealth of gray divorceds,” says the study. “And … on average, gray divorceds can count on less than $14,000 per year from Social Security.”

Brown is worried about this trend on more than just economic grounds, however. “I think there is good reason for serious concern,” she says. “A growing share of older adults is on the brink of old age alone.” These are the years, after all, when the vows about sickness and health really get tested. “Traditionally, spouses have been the first line of defense in caring for frail elders. But now, an increasing share of older adults don’t have a spouse who can care for them.” Asks Brown: “Who will step in and provide this care?”

TIME politics

The Wedding That Changed American History

Kennedy Wedding
Joseph P Kennedy and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, on their wedding day in 1914 Getty Images

Rose Fitzgerald's father had doubts about Joseph Kennedy, but it's a good thing she didn't listen

Exactly 100 years ago, on Oct. 7, 1914, John F. “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald, having just finished his term as mayor of Boston, walked his daughter Rose down the aisle to marry a guy he had doubts about. Sure, the bridegroom was then the youngest bank president in America, but Rose hadn’t dated around enough.

It’s a good thing she didn’t share her father’s doubts. The man waiting at the altar was Joseph Kennedy, and their wedding probably influenced the course of American history more than any before or since, thanks to the fruit of their union. Of their nine children, three became United States senators: Edward, known as Ted; Robert, who also became U.S. attorney general; and Jack — John F. Kennedy — who became a president of no small consequence.

The other children round out the epic American story. The oldest, Joe Jr., died a hero’s death in World War II. Kathleen married the heir to a Duke but lost him in the war less than a month after losing her big brother. Kathleen died at 28 in a plane crash in France. Patricia married a Hollywood leading man, and Jean married a shrewd businessman who became a trusted financial and campaign adviser to the family. Rosemary was intellectually disabled, which led sister Eunice to pursue a lifelong calling that effectively redefined popular understanding and acceptance of people with disabilities through such programs as the Special Olympics.

Joe and Rose were not a perfect couple by most standards. He was unfaithful, for years carrying on with film star Gloria Swanson. As parents, though, they did something indisputably right.

Of course, their children had the best education then available, from boarding schools to colleges like Harvard, Stanford and Princeton. Joe famously led spirited dinner-table discussions of public affairs and drove them to fierce competitiveness in sport. With Rose’s Catholic faith as moral compass and Joe’s money as enabler, the children followed lives dedicated to public service.

And then there was sailing.

When he was president, JFK said privately that the family’s reputation for competitiveness, and his father’s insistence on winning at everything, was often overstated — except in that one arena. Most of the children were obsessive about sailing and winning races. Their parents bought them mostly small boats at first. When they became a family of ten, they named one of them Tenovus. With the birth of the youngest, Ted, the family named another boat, Onemore. In 1932, Joe and Rose bought their children a 25-ft. boat that Jack named Victura. The 15-year-old, a mediocre student of Latin, chose a word that meant “about to conquer.”

Jack and his big brother Joe later teamed up on the Harvard sailing team to win a major intercollegiate regatta. Not long after, they both went into the Navy, where Joe Jr. died and Jack narrowly survived a sinking of the boat under his command. Fifty years later, Ted said it was Jack’s experience on Victura that saved his life and most of his crew. Jack sailed Victura on Nantucket Sound through his presidency. Bobby and Ethel loved sailing it so much that a painting of the two of them sailing Victura hangs to this very day on the dining room wall of Ethel’s home at Hyannis Port. The painting was one of three of that boat, commissioned in 1963 by Kennedy sisters as Christmas presents for their three brothers. Jack did not live to receive his.

When Ted died in 2009, among the many eulogists were four who all told stories of sailing with Ted on Victura. By then 77 years had passed since Joe and Rose bought it. All the children of Joe and Rose, and the Kennedys who came after, told and still tell stories of sailing together. But the sailing was nothing, really, compared to the other things they did.

Before Jack died, he and his brothers loved talking about the space program that got us to the moon. Astronauts were sailing a “new ocean,” said Jack. Eunice campaigned tirelessly for her brothers and successfully made the capabilities of people with disabilities a cause all the family embraced, to this day. Now, together, they work on environmental causes, human rights and children’s interests.

To this day, the grandchildren and great grandchildren of Joe and Rose continue to pursue public service and, yes, sailing. They race boats identical to Victura, even taking them the 30 miles between Nantucket and the very same moorings their grandparents used all those years ago.

James W. Graham is the author of, Victura: the Kennedys, a Sailboat, and the Sea.

Read a 1960 profile of the Kennedy family, here in TIME’s archives: Pride of the Clan

TIME Economics

The High Cost of Heartbreak for Modern Singles

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Larry Washburn—Getty Images/fStop

Dr. Adshade has a Ph.D. from Queen’s University and currently teaches economics at the Vancouver School of Economics at the University of British Columbia.

The turmoil of ending a relationship can have a professional price tag

Almost one half of all Americans between the ages of 25 and 34 have never been married, while the majority of those say that they hope to marry one day (61% with absolute certainty). This suggests that there are millions of men and women in this age group who are working towards the goal of finding that one true love.

The road to marriage, however, is littered with broken hearts, as they say. This heartbreak is particularly severe for those who have been living with their romantic partner (24% of those in this age group), since those are the relationships that promise the most hope for marriage.

Heartbreak among unmarried young adults is common, with 36.5% of one study‘s participants aged 18 to 35 having experienced it at least once in the previous 20 months.

Experiencing disappointment in the search for true love is nothing new, however those in previous generations would have experienced it at a stage of their lives when those around them (parents, teachers, etc.) were likely to be sympathetic and there were few external costs.

This is much less true for modern singles, who often find themselves searching for love at the same time that they are also working hard to establish themselves in their careers. Broken hearts can’t be left at home during the work day, and the evidence suggests that employers, managers and coworkers don’t particularly appreciate them being brought to work.

In fact, it would be completely reasonable for a young ambitious single to fear the impact that a series of broken hearts could have on his or her career prospects.

Which raises an interesting point. The number one reason young singles give for not being married is that they are “not prepared financially” (34%). That justification for delaying marriage is a little difficult to understand within the context of modern marriage. Long gone are the days in which marriage meant that children would immediately follow, everyone would live on a single income and a house with a yard was the only acceptable living arrangement.

The reality is that individuals who are married are likely to achieve financial security much more quickly that those who remain unmarried, so delaying marriage for reasons of financial security doesn’t seem logical.

What does make sense, however, is that singles are unwilling to allow the turmoil that romantic relationships often bring to interfere with their path to financial security; that they worry that the search for love will lead to a broken heart, or series of broken hearts, that comes with a professional price tag.

If we really care that so many young people aren’t marrying, an argument could be made for bereavement leave for the broken hearted. Of course, for that to actually work people would have to be willing to phone in rejected and, frankly, I don’t see that happening.

Marina Adshade uses research, human insight and economic analysis to unlock the mysteries behind our actions, thoughts and preferences regarding sexual relationships, gender, love and power. She shows that every option, every decision and every outcome in the realm of sex and love is better understood through economics. Dr. Adshade has a Ph.D. from Queen’s University and currently teaches economics at the Vancouver School of Economics at the University of British Columbia.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME relationships

5 Reasons George Clooney’s Marriage Will Survive

George Clooney Amal Alamuddin wedding photos
People Magazine

The suave star and his new wife are the model modern couple

Celebrities, as anyone who has ever passed a magazine stand at the checkout knows, are always on the verge of divorcing. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie veer toward the off-ramp to splitsville at least once a month, or whenever tabloids aren’t selling so well. The Beyonce and Jay-Z rumor mill churns so hard, it could crush diamonds. Now that George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin have been wed long enough to have their wedding pictures sold for charity, we should expect to see rumors of the demise of their marriage any day now.

But be warned, ye Cassandras, Clooney and Alamuddin have gone about getting married in the way that sociologists say leads to a lower likelihood of divorce.

Here’s why, with help from economist and Brookings Institute egghead Isabel Sawhill’s new book Generation Unbound.

1) They’re Old.

Clooney is 53, Alamuddin 36. That’s higher than the average age people get married (for men it’s 29, and women it’s 27, although this is Clooney’s second marriage.) There’s a pretty strong correlation between the age at which you get married and the likelihood that your marriage survives, says Sawhill. “Later marriages are more durable than earlier ones,” she writes. “The most recent data suggest that it is best to wait until your mid-twenties, and better still your early thirties, if you want to reduce the risk of divorce.”

2) They’re Childless.

This may seem obvious, but in the U.S. it’s not. The average age at which women get married is now higher than the average age at which women have their first baby, notes Sawhill. Marriages that happen after children have a high rate of failure, especially if the children were unintended. Some studies show that in poorer families, who are often delaying marriage because they don’t feel they’re financially stable enough, a child is welcomed and “highly valued,” as Sawhill puts it. However, she notes “about four in ten [of these relationships] will have ended before the child is age 5.”

3) They’re Equally Educated.

Both Clooney and Alamuddin have similar interests and come from similar socio-economic backgrounds. Alamuddin’s mother was a journalist, Clooney’s dad was an anchorman. Alamuddin has way more formal education than Clooney, who never finished college, but seems to have picked up some useful skills. “The tendency of the well-educated to marry each other,” notes Sawhill is “what scientists call ‘assortative mating.”” Those relationships have proved to be the most stable.

4) They’re Wealthy.

Clearly Clooney’s wealth dwarfs Alamuddin’s, but she’s not without means. In any case, wealth — not crazy money, but a lack of need — tends to produce more stable families, or at least poverty produces unstable ones, especially if there are kids involved. This is such a big predictor of marital stability that sociologists are not quite sure if richer people have more stable marriage or whether more stable marriages produce better wealth.

5) They Decided.

Clooney, you may have noticed, dated a lot of women before marrying Alamuddin. He even lived with some of them. But the relationships never just slid into marriage because they had nowhere else to go. Alamuddin and Clooney had only been dating for about a year when they got married, and only about six months before they got engaged. This is in contrast to many families which are founded out of convenience or lack of choice. “The less privileged …are drifting into relationships they did not plan and frequently cannot maintain,” writes Sawhill. Those who carefully choose their spouses and delay starting a family until they have chosen one, tend to stay married.

Of course, these trends may fade to meaninglessness in the blinding glare of living in the public eye, which, if the reality shows are to be believed, is not very easy on newlyweds. Nevertheless, we’re sure nobody is hinting at a Clooney-Alamuddin rift yet. Or are they?

 

MONEY best places to live

The 5 Best Places To Find a Spouse With a Job

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A bride and groom on a beach at the water's edge in Kirkland, Washington. Kirkland is a top place for both men and women to find a spouse. Design Pics Inc.—Alamy

Looking for that special someone? Hoping he or she will be gainfully employed? Here's where to start your search.

There are lots of things to consider when choosing a place to live. How’s the job market? How much do people make? How affordable is it? And for those looking for love, the real question is: “Where are all the nice, single guys/girls?” And on that count, Pew Research might be able to help.

On Thursday, the data firm released a list of the country’s major metro areas with the highest ratio of employed, young (25-34) single men to young women, and vice versa. Pew included employment status based on the results of a recent poll, which found that 78% of never-married women think having a spouse with a steady job is “very important” (only 46% of never-married men agreed). The interactive map, available here, is a nationwide guide to the places where you have the best odds of finding an eligible bachelor or bachelorette.

But while we now know where the singles are, Pew doesn’t give us any clues about whether we’d actually want to live in any of these locations. That’s where MONEY’s Best Places data comes in. We’ve cross referenced our list of America’s best small cities with the new report, looking for cities that fall within Pew’s top major metro areas for finding love. Or at least a good shot at getting hitched.

The Top Five Cities For Those Interested in Men:

Castle Rock, Colo.

Best Small Cities rank: 4

Pew Metro Area rank: 2

# of employed single young men for every 100 single young women: 101

Maple Grove, Minn.

Best Small Cities rank: 2

Pew Metro Area rank: 4

# of employed single young men for every 100 single young women: 98

Eagan, Minn.

Best Small Cities rank: 2

Pew Metro Area rank: 4

# of employed single young men for every 100 single young women: 98

Kirkland, Wash.

Best Small Cities rank: 5

Pew Metro Area rank: 5

# of employed single young men for every 100 single young women: 92

Reston, Va.

Best Small Cities rank: 10

Pew Metro Area rank: 7

# of employed single young men for every 100 single young women: 92

 

The Top 5 Cities For Those Interested in Women:

Kirkland, Wash.

Best Small Cities rank: 5

Pew Metro Area rank: 1

# of employed single young women for every 100 single young men: 78

Reston, Va.

Best Small Cities rank: 10

Pew Metro Area rank: 1

# of employed single young women for every 100 single young men: 78

Newton, Mass.

Best Small Cities rank: 15

Pew Metro Area rank: 6

# of employed single young women for every 100 single young men: 74

Brookline, Mass.

Best Small Cities rank: 21

Pew Metro Area rank: 6

# of employed single young women for every 100 single young men: 74

Columbia/Ellicott City, Md.

Best Small Cities rank: 6

Pew Metro Area rank: 7

# of employed single young women for every 100 single young men: 74

 

More Best Places:

 

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