Falling in love is a powerful thing. You may be feeling things you have never felt before and are certain you will never feel again. At any age this is an exciting phase of a relationship.
So what happens when you are so swept up in this emotion that you determine it is time to make things official and get married? Well, at a certain age this step makes perfect sense. You are able to contemplate the weightiness of all the new aspects of your future, like money, kids and careers. You make a plan that incorporates the things that are important to you both. No matter your age, at this stage this should all feel positive and exciting.
But, if you are on the younger side you may be missing several pieces of the picture. Getting married at a very young age, like teens or even early twenties, can be a recipe for a lot of heartache and early divorce.
Am I Too Young?
People grow and change throughout their lives, but the teens and early twenties are especially tumultuous. In all likelihood your life experiences have been rather limited and you have not had an opportunity to discover the things that are truly important to you. Nor have you had the opportunity to really become the person that you are meant to be..
Whether it is college, the working world, or other intimate relationships, the experiences you have during these younger years are crucial in creating the person you will become. They are also illuminating. What you feel now for someone may be exceeded by the feelings you develop for someone else later on. Feelings for that future someone may be built on a deeper bond because of experiences you have gained and lessons learned in earlier relationships.
What this means is that a year from now, two years or five years from now, you may be an entirely different person. You may want different things and different experiences. And, the person you fell in love with at such a young age may no longer be the right one and you may feel you married the wrong person.
What is the Right Age?
There is no magic number. However, statistically speaking, the rate of divorce declines as the age of marriage goes up. Once a person is more financially established with academic or career accomplishments under their belt, their perspective on what a long term commitment means becomes more refined. Living through the growing pains of the late teens and early twenties also leaves people feeling more settled and more mature.
If you are wondering if you are really ready to marry, ask yourself the following questions:
- Have I completed the majority of my desired education?
- Am I financially self-sufficient?
- Do I have a plan to achieve my goals over the next several years?
- Have I had some successful long-term relationships?
- Why (outside of being in love) do I think now is the right time to get married?
- Are there experiences that you may miss by getting married that you will later regret?
Once you are clear on your answers, ask your prospective spouse the same questions and see how they compare.
What Should I do?
Think long and hard. As romantic as marriage may sound, the reality is that marriage is a long-term contract to stay committed to each other. There are lifetime legal and financial ramifications as a result of getting married that are not easily undone.
As a rule of thumb, you should make sure you have completed most of your desired education, are financially self-sufficient, experienced some other relationships, and have a plan for your future. Having those things nailed down will likely put you in your mid to late twenties with more wisdom and maturity available as you make this life altering decision.
There is no magic formula for marital success. Marriage is rewarding in many ways, and hard. Sometimes REALLY hard. Even the best prepared couples can encounter challenges that can rip them apart. There will be ups and downs no matter your age. But, there are ways to stack the deck in your favor, the biggest one being to wait until you are completely ready. Life is not a race. If your current true love is really the ONE, they will wait with you until the time is right for both of you.