Ready or Not?: Criteria for Marriage Readiness Among Emerging Adults


emerging adulthood, marriage preparation, marital timing, marriage readiness, transition to marriage


This study examined emerging adults' criteria for marriage readiness and explored how these criteria are associated with their current attitudes and behaviors. This article establishes the psychometric value of the Criteria for Marriage Readiness Questionnaire and reports on a study of 788 emerging adults recruited from five college sites across the country. Results showed that marriage readiness is viewed by emerging adults as a process of developing interpersonal competencies, making life-long commitments, and acquiring capacities to care for others. These findings suggest that many emerging adults regard becoming an adult and becoming ready for marriage as two distinct transitions in life, with the first involving a shift from being cared for by others to taking care of oneself and the second consisting of a transition from self-care to caring for others. Results also showed that young people's criteria for marriage readiness are associated with individual differences in their current risk taking and family formation values.

Original Publication Citation

Carroll, J. S., Badger, S.*, Willoughby, B. J.*, Nelson, L. J., Madsen, S., & Barry, C. (2009). Ready or Not? Criteria for Marriage Readiness Among Emerging Adults. Journal of Adolescent Research, 24 (3), 349-375.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Journal of Adolescent Research




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor