When should you get married / be in a committed relationship?
I was thinking the other day about the ages of people getting married. I heard a niece of a colleague was 20 getting hitched and I thought “Whoa.. I didn’t even know what style I liked at that age, haven’t even graduated and she is MARRIED!??”
Of course as I say “married” I also mean long term relationships like mine where I’m pretty much as good as married in my mind except I skipped the papers, ceremony, stress, and $$$$$$$$ of it all.
Maybe they just marry younger here in this province but it did at least give me food for thought because as far as I can tell, most of my friends were at least 26 – 29 before they got married.
There are pros to marrying younger that I can immediately point to as helpful…
For one thing, you don’t know who you are quite as well as when you’re 40. You’re less set in your ways, a bit malleable and can in many ways, grow with your spouse to come to an agreeable union that benefits both (or not, can go either way).
When you’re older, in your 40s and up, you already have biases that are pretty set, routines that you like to do alone, and you’re used to a certain way of life.
Which brings me to kids speaking of “being used to a certain way of life”.. if you plan on having kids, having them YOUNG has so many advantages I can’t even begin.
You don’t need as much sleep (all good because newborns up to the age of 5, DO NOT LET YOU SLEEP SOLIDLY).
You have way more energy to play with kids. I get home and I’m not that old in my early 30s but dang, Little Bun sucks the energy out of me. If I were younger I wouldn’t need as much sleep and I’d probably have way more energy to bounce with him.
You aren’t set in a job or career that you have worked hard for yet. This is a positive in marriage because you can change jobs, move cities, decide to work part time or quit to raise kids or WHATEVER. When you’re older, your career is established and it is much harder to uproot yourself and your spouse & co.
You have less money, which means you make less money mistakes and aren’t as militant about being fair with sharing money or being equal in a relationship (or was that just me?)…
All the negatives of being younger become positives…
Like this: your career is set so you make more money and can enjoy life easily, or with your established experience you can move to other cities and pick up right where you left off.
You can also offer more experience to the other spouse in having matured independently of them, and you’ve seen a wider range and dated a wider range of people to be able to appreciate who you’ve got is a real gem.
You’re more cautious which isn’t a bad thing, and you are less laissez-faire about things that you know make a big impact on the long run, like working hard at work, going to get your skills updated and so on.
An older parent is also said to churn out slightly smarter kids because you would have already finished your degree, maybe went back for more certifications, have learned more and can teach your kids way more than when you were 20 and slightly clueless. You have less energy but you know more.
You also know how to work in a relationship with others using techniques in your relationship to work things out, and are less likely to pick up and leave at the first sign of trouble. You could be more willing to stay and try counselling knowing that you’re a certain age and good unmarried partners don’t show up every week.
There are so many good and bad aspects to marrying when you’re young or older but it always made me curious what life would have been like if I stayed single until my 40s. I suspect I would have enjoyed it because I’m a bit of a serial monogamist (love being in a relationship) and being single would have pushed me uncomfortably into a direction of being alone and okay with it. I have never really been “alone” and “single” past high school years which sort of makes me wistful for what that experience could have been like.
I don’t regret what I have now because I really do have it good, but I do wonder about a missed life.
What do you think?
Hm. I’m the opposite from you. I’ve been single for a long time. Guesd I’m just terrible at dating. Being single in your 20s is not bad. But I’m approaching 30 and I can start feeling being in your 30s single is going to be less fun. Because most of your friends will be married/ have small children and the social dynamics just change so much.
Yet Another PF Blog
We started dating when I was 21 and will be getting married when I am 27. I didn’t feel sold on getting hitched until 3-4 years into the relationship. I cannot imagine having gotten married in my early 20’s. Even as a coupled person, having that breathing room for self exploration after college was necessary for me.
My husband and I started dating at ages 19 (me) and 21, got engaged 11 months later, and married 18 months after that. I finished law school at 24 and worked for many years before having children. We were married for over 7 years when our oldest was born. We’ve been married 22 years now. Some years are easier and we’ve had to work really hard other years. I think it boils down to commitment levels and whether both parties are willing to do what it takes to stay together. Of course, adultery/abuse/etc. is a completely different scenario.
I call the path not taken my “shadow life”.
I wonder what my apartment looks like in my shadow life. I’ve never decorated one by myself before.
Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life
Hmm, I’m thinking of all the early 20s marriages that I supported as part of the bridal party (friends in HS and relatives). A little more than half of them are happy with kids and going strong, half are incredibly unhappy or divorcing now. Of the marriages in mid to late 20s, most are going strong that I know of but give it another 5 years to compare them equally.
Like you, I know that having kids when you’re older is rougher on the body but honestly in my 20s, I bet I would have been an angrier and less patient mother. I’m not all that patient NOW but I’m a hell of a lot better than I would have been ten years ago when PiC was ready to get married and have kids.
Most of my friends who got married in their early 20s are divorced now. I can think of only one such couple who is still together after all these years, and they’re also the only intentionally childless couple. Not sure if that makes any difference, but it’s an interesting correlation.
I think more important than age is how long the couple has been together prior to marriage. For some totally stupid reason, it is acceptable tradition in my local geography for two people to meet, date for a few months, get pregnant, and then get married less than a year after first meeting one another. Needless to say, most of the marriages fail after a few years.
We started dating quite young – 19 & 21 – so we definitely “grew up” together and developed a life together. But, we didn’t live together until about 25 and got married shortly after. Living on my own for a few years was good for me (not for my wallet!), and it made us more confident that we were making a good choice to get married. I can see it going both ways, there are benefits to both. Statistically, marriages under 25 are more risky in terms of divorce – but that is just statistics.
Marriages in my peer group of female friends happened in two groups: Early 20s–these were the girls who married their high school and college sweethearts (in a few cases, they married older boyfriends)…Then there was a big gap, and then there was a group that got married more recently like…age 30-32.
I wouldn’t say either group has been more or less successful at marriage but it’s interesting the wedding invites were clustered at two points!