<em>The 1-Minute Therapist</em>: Better Late Than Early

Friends have reported a merrier experience of marrying later in life. Why might this be, I've wondered?
08/10/2007 04:54pm ET | Updated November 17, 2011
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Did you hear? Divorce rates are down -- from the oft-times quoted "a little over 50 percent" to a much more optimistic "under 40 percent"!

The theory on this positive decline: more people are now marrying later, and these later-in-life marriages are shown to have a more everlasting and everlusting lifespan -- lowering the total divorce rate.

I myself have personally shared many one-on-one cups of coffee with friends who have reported a merrier experience of marrying later in life. Why might this be, I've wondered? Consider some of the following...

1. You've had the breakups that led to breakdowns that led to the breakthrough.

2. You've sowed your wild oats -- and now think, "Sow what?" All those tempting choices aren't really so tempting.

3. You're healthier and more together -- meaning the relationship now has at least a 50 percent chance of being healthier and staying together.

4. You now wisely know the "ability to compromise" is very, very sexy.

5. You no longer confuse conflict for passion -- and recognize that bumper sticker you've read on cars is oh so true: "It's better to have loved and lost...than to live with a wacko for the rest of your life." Duh! Rather than choosing a partner who keeps you walking on eggshells -- it's essential to choose someone who's as comforting as listening to seashells -- a partner who keeps you at your calmest and most secure -- that's what a good relationship is all about!

6. You've wisely stopped looking for "sex objects" -- and started looking for "longterm relationship objects." Meaning? You are less likely to marry due to a sizzling lust which can become fizzling lust very quickly -- that is if there's nothing else but lust between you two to sustain you two. Basically, you now wisely know to seek "long haul qualities" in a partner -- rather than "short haul qualities" -- because a successful marriage is a long haul marriage.

7. You now know that just because a person looks good on paper doesn't mean they're going to "act good" in real life. Status, wealth, fame and trust funds no longer blindingly seduce you towards a person.

8. You now know not to become intimately involved with someone who has the following: RED FLASHING WARNING LIGHTS BLINKING BLINDINGLY IN YOUR FACE!

9. You're now wisely less "self-centered" about problem-solving -- and more "relationship-centered." Meaning? You recognize it's better to be wrong some of the time -- than 100 percent very right and potentially very alone.

10. You now know it's never a checklist of adjectives to look for in a person -- but the compatibility of your adjectives with their adjectives. Meaning? The rocks in your head must fit in the holes in the other person's head.

11. You now know personality is the tip of the iceberg. But character is the real foundation. While it's okay not to share all the same interests and hobbies, you must always share the same core character values and ethics!

12. You now wisely know you're never going to find perfect, custom-fit love in a world of off-the-rack people. All people will have some flaws and misfittings.

13. It's now apparent what was inappropriate behavior in your parents! Meaning? You are now more aware of how not to share your parents' "Inappropriate Behavior Issues" with your partner!

14. After having endured a gazillion awful dates, suddenly your fear of working at a relationship is a lot less scary than your fear of more awful dates.

15. You now know when a relationship is on the road to nowhere -- and how to find that exit ramp away from Emotionally Unavailable Territory.

16. You're less needy and more want-y. Meaning? You don't "need" a mate in your life. You want one. And so you are less likely to be unhealthfully co-dependent -- and more likely to be healthfully inter-dependent.

17. You now have work you love -- so can put more attention on the work of love.

18. Together you both are making more money than ever -- perhaps doubling your combined income -- which can mean halving some of the monetary stress.

19. Instead of being reactive -- you're now proactive. You wait for the smoke to clear from the explosive glitches you have in your "Relationship Disagreement Areas." Indeed, you are constantly looking for ways to permanently remove repeated glitches from the system of your "Relationship Disagreement Areas" -- so explosions don't keep on happening.

20. You now wisely know "communication" is about "listening" -- just as much as it's about talking- - and thereby you now listen with 20/20 hearing.

21. You now know having a firmer tush won't snag you a good mate -- but having a strong gut and listening to it will!

22 You now see love as a two-way street -- not a rollercoaster ride.

23. You now know true love requires love of truth. You must share openly and vulnerably with your partner to feel true intimacy and avoid longterm problems. With this in mind, you now also know that if you seek a partner by use gameplaying bait, you will only lure in gameplaying fish. However if you use open/honest communication bait you will lure in open/honest communication fish -- the best kind of relationship fish to marry!

24. You now recognize that you get love in your life by loving your life. Meaning: A man or a woman isn't meant to be your entire life -- they're meant to enhance the happy life you've created for yourself, which has many supportive people and inspiring interests.

25. You know size does matter. You need a partner with a really big heart. Nice guys and girls don't finish last -- they create relationships that last!

26. You've stopped blaming your past for bad relationships -- and started blaming your present. Meaning? You are finally exploring what you're doing to bring a relationship down -- taking self-responsibility. You've witnessed your "constants" in a variety of relationship settings -- and thereby know when you're the trouble-maker.

27. Having less time to waste in your life magically increases your intelligence and instincts with people.

28. You know who you are -- so you have a higher percentage probability of finding someone who's right for you. After all, by now you've had years to research jobs to have, cities to live in, people to date. It's as if you hold a Ph.D. in knowing thyself.

29 You now wisely also know who you are not -- so you have a higher percentage probability of finding someone who's NOT right for you.

30. You now wisely know love is a boomerang. What you have and give away is what you get back.

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