Marrying in my family is something you were supposed to do the month following high school graduation. Anyone marrying past the age of 19 was considered an old maid. I married at 21, I was the oldest single female in my family when I married and my parents were very worried. My dad was especially worried. I wasn’t ready at 21. I should have been married and had several children at 21.
People think grapes are picked, mashed, fermented, bottled and ready to drink in a few days. Just like, where I come from, they think we are ready to marry at 16, 18 or 20. No... if you know anything about wine (I admittedly know nothing except how to drink it) you know that there is an art to growing grapes, harvesting those beautiful grapes, making it into an amazing wine. That each wine is unique and requires different handling. No two wines are the same. They take different lengths of time before they are mature enough and ready for harvesting. The same with people, none of us are the same, each one of us mature differently.
I wish I had waited, waited until I was at least 35 to marry. There isn’t a magic age when people are ready to marry. However marriage like wine requires maturity and most people aren’t mature until they have experienced some ups and downs in life. Most of that takes time. So I encourage my kids to give themselves time, to wait until they are 30 to 35 to even consider a serious relationship.
5 reasons I encourage waiting to get married:
- Freedom to explore your individuality without the concern of how your choices affect another individual or individuals is very important. Everyone deserves the opportunity to explore their desires, to find out who they are. Because I married young and I wasn’t married to a supportive partner I haven’t ever been able to do that.
- As a single parent, I can do what I want to some degree however I have to make decisions that are best for my family. I can’t save up a $1,000 and take a train to Seattle simply because I want to see what it is like to live there. I have four lives in addition to my own that I love and am responsible for. Those lives are more important than my own. I should have taken time to live a little before I married.
- By the age of 30 - 35 you are more grounded as an individual. You have hopefully, had a few carefree years; made a few bad decisions and learned from them. It’s much better to experience the learning curve when you are the only one who is going to hurt from your mistakes. It doesn’t matter if it is your first car wreck, bounced check, over the limit on a credit card, whatever.
- Most people make a few not so great choices, better to learn on your own than to have to go to your partner and say Babe… I know you are going to be angry but…. And then have to deal with your bad choice and his drama that may or may not end. If you married well, then it won’t be so bad, if not, well then we all know how that goes.
In most marriages, children seem to be a natural progression. When you wait to get married you have the maturity to think things through more thoroughly. You consider things younger people don’t think about: genetics, finances etc. When a couple tells me they think they are ready to start a family, I tell them they aren’t ready. Think and KNOW; those are two very different things. There is No guarantee you will get a cute healthy baby, everyone hopes for a cute healthy baby but are you prepared for an unhealthy baby that god forbid spends months in NICU? Or a baby that has cancer? Make an informed decision. Don’t have a baby because your friends are having babies or because your clock is ticking. All of these are signs of maturity and lead to a healthier marriage.
You hopefully have graduated college. Your career has taken off and you have a good start paying on those pesky student loans which also means you are living on your own. Going to school is difficult. Trying to juggle school, work and a marriage is really difficult. It can be done. A lot of people do it. However, if you have a choice, I recommend waiting, if you really love one another you can wait to get married and you will be glad you waited.
When you wait until later in life to get married you should be in a better place financially, both of you have hopefully graduated college. Are mid-career, earning good money, are smart enough to request and sign a prenuptial agreement which means a divorce would be much less costly for both of you.
The later in life you get married, the more relationships you have experienced (ideally). Each of us learn and grow from every relationship, especially as we mature. This means we should be bringing a healthy level of experience into a marriage. We should be past the inexperienced baggage and drama stage and be able to see the good things each relationship gave us. When I discovered my ex had never had a girlfriend, honestly I should have run away as fast as possible. He brought no past relationship experience to the table and it showed. He had no idea how to have a relationship and had to desire to learn how to have a relationship. It was his way or the highway. Now, 40 years old, a few years post-divorce and a few relationships under my belt I may be close to being ready for a real relationship – maybe
Enjoy growing, enjoy fermenting, enjoy maturing and most of all enjoy being in a wondeful mature relationship that may or may not blossom into marriage. Honestly happiness is the goal, marriage is NOT the goal.