You greatly increase your chances of success by waiting until after this pivotal age.
“All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
Have you ever re-watched a movie that you remembered as amazing when you were younger and thought, “What was I smoking?” when you watched it now?
Mine was Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
While the movie has stayed the same, the difference is that you have changed and grown as a person.
Your preferences have changed from various life experiences, and you have watched so many other movies that proved to be so much better that when you watch this one now, you recognize that it is just not the quality you thought it was then.
What if you decided to marry that movie when you were 22 and had to watch it every day for the rest of your life? How miserable and sad would you be 15 years after making that commitment?
While people are much more complex because they can grow and change (unlike movies), there is something to be said for making such a huge commitment and decision at a young age.
While there is no way to know the exact age that you could be ready to tell someone you want to spend the rest of your life with them (I was 38), I feel confident that if you do it before the age of thirty, you could have some serious negative consequences.
While this may seem old to some, there are three distinct reasons you should probably not get married before you have at least eclipsed this age if you want to give yourself and your marriage the best chance at success.
It generally takes this long to see success at work
When you are climbing the corporate ladder of work and building your business skills and reputation, focusing on the job at hand is pretty important.
Similar to a post that I wrote some time ago about how having kids make work a bit challenging because of how much it restrains your ability to have options in the future, getting married at a young age can do the same thing.
When you decide to marry someone, you are saying that you two are together in this game of life. For that reason, before you make any decision about work and your future, you will need to run it by this person first and consider how it will affect them.
When you’re not married and only in a serious relationship, you are generally more likely to be willing to take risks with the connection to focus more on your career and what you want in life. Therefore, if a job opportunity comes open in a new city or state, you’ll be more apt to consider moving there on your own.
You think you will try to make it work long distance if necessary, and if it’s strong enough or “meant to be,” then you two will stay together. If not, then that’s the game of life.
However, once you’re married, the concept of not living in the same house seems foreign and unnatural. Typically, this will become a conversation about whether you are going to take the new opportunity or not. And if it’s too disruptive to your significant other, the answer will often be no.
This could significantly limit your opportunities for advancement when you’re at a stage in your life in which moving and being open to travel/relocation could open numerous doors that will set you up for success in the future.
Getting married early could close them with no chance of opening them again down the road.
You are still growing and learning what/who you want in life
When I think back to who I was when I graduated college at 22, I realize that I changed pretty drastically every year after that for a while.
Every year, I would look back on who I was the previous year and shake my head at how naïve I was. I thought about all the things I used to believe and how I approached things that seemed so right at the time that I now recognized as immature and narrow-minded only a year later.
This yearly growth and reflection on how much I changed and how different of a person I was continued every year after college until I reached 30.
I thought about all the experiences I had during those years that had changed me and the lessons that I had learned and realized that it was all part of a maturation process to help create the person I was then.
During these eight years, I was lucky enough to realize that this yearly change was taking place, so I didn’t lock myself into any decisions that would not allow me to continue to do so, and once I hit 31, then 32, and then 33, I knew that the person I was at that time was probably who I was going to be for the majority of the rest of my life.
This has remained true with some minor epiphanies at 35 and 40, but for the most part, I’ve been the same person for over a decade. This allowed me to know that whomever I married was going to be the right match for me for a long time, and, more importantly, I was going to be the right match for her because I wasn’t going to change drastically any time soon.
You want to make sure you don’t have any regrets once the decision has been made.
Overall, this is the one that I think more people should think about before making the decision.
While you may think the person you met at 16 years old will be the person you should spend the rest of your life with, the reality is that with experience comes different perspectives and insight.
It is somewhat impossible to unequivocally say that something is better than anything else that is out there when you have no frame of reference or experience with “anything else” out there.
While there is truth in the statement, “Ignorance is bliss,” what happens when you are no longer ignorant?
Unfortunately, what I think happens to many people once they reach a certain age is that they look back on all the things they didn’t do and then begin to regret some of their decisions.
If you couple the last point about the changes that many of us go through over time with this reality, you can see why many people often begin to experience unhappiness in a marriage they committed to at 22 when they get in their mid-thirties or forties.
It’s not that there is anything wrong with their spouse, but it’s that natural feeling of having lived a life so conservative that you may start to wonder if this is really the best out there.
The great thing about deciding not to marry someone when you’re too young is that you genuinely get the opportunity to see what the world has to offer from dating other people.
How this ultimately benefits you is when you finally find that special someone that makes you feel like no one else has before, you have an entire array of experiences to pull from to KNOW this is as good as it gets.
And while Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure is not a bad movie at all, I’m much happier knowing that I was able to experience The Usual Suspects before deciding on my most excellent movie of all time.