This is the first time we’ve done this on our site but this week’s truth is a bit subjective. The reason we do a “truth” every week is because we do believe that the concepts we are sharing can and do apply to all relationships. They may look a little different and be applied uniquely in each marriage but they are still true for all.
This weeks truth, though, may push a few buttons. Which is why I’m giving the disclaimer from the beginning that while we believe there is inherent truth in the thought behind this weeks truth, it may show itself differently in each individual marriage and it may be that some of you have found this concept to have worked itself out in your marriage in different ways.
So, this weeks truth is:
Waiting to Get Married Gives My Marriage a Better Chance
As I was growing up, my mother would often tell me that I should wait to get married until I was 29. That’s how old she was when she got married. And she didn’t regret it. For many reasons. And it, along with other things, seems to have worked for her and my dad as they are about to celebrate their 42nd anniversary in a few months. Truth be told, like most kids, I decided that was the last thing I was going to do because my mother had suggested it. But, as mothers often are, she was right. There are a lot of reasons to hold off on tying the knot.
And now that we have four kids, we find ourselves telling them the same thing. Wait. Don’t rush. You’ve got time. Sure some of it comes from the “we don’t want you to grow up and if I catch you dating someone before you’re 25 I’ll have to get my shotgun out” mindset but there is actual truth behind the idea of waiting. Not just crazed parents who want to keep their babies babies forever.
I know many people might disagree with this. There are many in the conservative Christian camp who would say that marriage and children are a good thing and the sooner the better. I’ve read a few blogs of young newly married wives who espouse the idea that getting married young was a wonderful experience. I don’t doubt that. That’s where the “subjective” thing comes in. There are some couples who get married young and make it work for 40+ years. But, if I may be so bold, for many couples there is inherent hardship that comes with getting married very young.
While you are growing up, you are living under your parents roof, living by their rules. When you go to college you are living under the thumb of your university, living in a dorm room, following various rules of social etiquette and moral code. You aren’t your own person. Oh sure to a degree you are. You decorate your room. You have your own style. You have your group of friends that you connect with and various extracurriculars that you enjoy more than others. But you aren’t ON. YOUR. OWN. Waiting to get married gives you some time to be on your own before moving on to the next step in life that also, much like childhood and college, has you tied to other people and their wants and needs.
Along those same lines, being on your own for a bit allows you better opportunities to discover who you really are. It is often said, and there have been studies and surveys to support this, that we as human beings don’t really “know” who we really are until we are at least 25. By this time we’ve graduated college, had a job or two, lived on our own and handled a budget, cooking, and laundry for one. We’ve probably had opportunities to go out with friends whenever we want, to travel, to spend time enjoying hobbies that don’t interfere with anyone else’s schedule or preferences.
Of course, regardless of how old we are when we get married, we are constantly changing and evolving. Clint and I got married when we were about 22 and we had so much going on in our relationship that waiting would have been very wise. Not just because of our personal situation but just because, hindsight being what it is…22 is a baby in adult world. And our marriage suffered for it. We really, really, didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into.
Not that anyone knows completely what they are getting themselves into when they get married. But the longer you live, the better you know yourself. The more you’ve seen and lived and experienced the better prepared you are to handle all the nuances of blending your life with another person.
This may explain why the divorce rate goes up the younger you are when you get married. Take a look at this graph. Pretty powerful image of how divorce impacts people based on the age that they get married. Now, of course, there are multiple variables that impact a couple divorcing but on average the rate goes down as your age for marrying goes up.
Now, that’s not to say that some couples don’t learn and grow and change and navigate all of those things well together. Some couples are better equipped to handle those things than others. But changes do occur. Changes in personality, likes/dislikes, occupation, hobbies, children… There’s a greater chance that these changes will not throw you or your spouse for a loop if you are older and more mature before you tie the knot. Big things and little things (anything from your spouse telling you they’ve always wanted to act (which I did by the way, 2 years into our marriage as I was getting ready to audition for a theatre troop in the cities) all the way to something simple like figuring out how to put the roll of toilet paper on the handle). You handled them with more grace, selflessness, tact, and maturity the older and wiser you are.
So, we’d love to hear your thoughts on this. How old were you when you got married? Did you feel like your age helped or hurt you when you got married?
We are linking up with Women Living Well, Messy Marriage, Wifey Wednesdays and Happy Wives Club!