Rushing into Marriage: A Cautionary Tale
One of my friends is engaged after dating her significant other for just three months. While they knew each other for several years before deciding to date, I think it’s safe to say they don’t “know” each other very well yet. And while she’s almost 30, he’s only 26, so I have my doubts about this relationship.
Taking the Plunge
But their ages are only one slice of the pie. A lot of emphasis is now given to waiting until you’re older before you marry, and while I certainly wish I had followed this advice (I was 26 when I got married the first time), I can look back on my previous relationships and know they failed in part because of age, but mostly because I didn’t know who these men were. This can be attributed to a number of factors, not the least of which is immaturity and simply not knowing what’s involved with really making a relationship work.
I initially married because I thought it was “time.” I thought that a magical clock somewhere was rapidly ticking away, and if I didn’t marry at that point, I never would. So I took the plunge, despite a number of serious doubts and not knowing either myself or my husband and divorced two years later.
For marriage number two, I truly thought I’d found the guy I wanted to be with for the rest of my life. But if I had waited until I knew him better (we got married after dating just six months), I never would have married him in the first place and wouldn’t now be twice divorced.
The Shiny Veneer
Part of the problem with love is that it creates such a spark of initial excitement, like the high from a drug. It can turn even the soberest of people into giddy, lovestruck fools who imagine nothing past jaunting happily down the aisle. Once the shine wears off, however, it’s not unusual to find that you disagree with your significant other on important topics, that he or she isn’t who you initially thought, and that love itself isn’t the package of unicorns and rainbows you once believed.
Sweeping problems under the carpet in favor of a wedding doesn’t mean they won’t exist afterwards. One popular misconception is that marriage fixes relationships; it doesn’t. In fact, after marrying, those problems tend to magnify exponentially.
Through the Looking Glass
Financial stability and responsibility are further considerations when thinking about marriage. Money is one of the top five reasons people seek divorce, either because there isn’t enough or because it’s been mismanaged to the point of no return. I fought incessantly with my ex-husbands about money, because they didn’t want to pay bills, and my income wasn’t great at the time. This arguing turned bad marriages into terrible ones.
Responsibility goes hand-in-hand with maturity, and people who lack these qualities generally don’t have their minds settled enough to know what they want. They’re more likely to jump ship later. Immaturity indicates character is still growing, and you don’t want to marry someone who can’t show up for work on time. One day, they may not show up for you.
Beyond physical attraction is the need to know somebody intimately on an emotional, mental, and spiritual level. If you don’t know somebody like this, you aren’t ready for marriage. Being with somebody who has a pretty face isn’t nearly as important as being able to connect at a deeper level. This connection is what will sustain you through difficult times and keep your relationship strong. But don’t despair…even if you do wait to say “I do,” experts believe that 90 percent of all Americans will marry at some time. So don’t settle. The right one is out there somewhere.