We Need To Stop Telling People What Age They Should Get Married
Yesterday I made another appearance on Huffington Post Live to discuss the pressure men feel to get married by a certain age. For the sake of yesterday’s show, we used the number 30, an age that is two years behind me.
If you watch the clip, which I have embedded below, one of my fellow panelists entered the conversation with a very aggressive take on this subject. Evan, the guy you see furthest to your left asked my fellow panelists and our moderator how old we all were. Then he proceeded to tell us how our ages have given us a better chance to know thyselves and what we want. His suggestion was based on a statistic that says people who get married before 30 are more likely to have their marriages end in divorce, and people who wait until their thirties (or even late 20s) to get married are more likely to stay together.
These are the kinds of statistics people like to spew when defending their decision not to get married before a certain age or when they’re upset that they haven’t found a reason to get married at an age they thought they would be. I know this because as I was creeping up on 30, I was very fascinated with the fact that it was shaping up to be something very different than I thought it would be when I was growing up. I would have bet all the money I made at my part-time jobs in high school and college that I would be married by the time I was 30. When I realized I wasn’t even close, I began to explain away why that wasn’t the case with statistics just like the ones Evan wanted to mention.
Now I’m 32 going on 33, and I’m still not married. Meanwhile, more and more of my friends are making that journey down the aisle. It’s a wonderful thing to see, and I will be the first to admit, it’s made me ask myself, when will it be my turn? Feeling that way is natural, as is other feelings I have as I get older. I don’t know why 30 is the number we choose to start questioning and wondering these things, and I agree with Evan, it is arbitrary. But that doesn’t make anything we’re feeling at that age less valid.
As I always like to stay, numbers never lie, but they don’t illuminate the whole truth. They certainly don’t dictate how I roll and make decisions. If there’s one thing I’ve learned since turning 30 it’s that we all have our own internal clocks when it comes to making major life decisions, and what’s great about our internal clocks is they run entirely the way we want them to. We slow down and we speed up on certain things based on the way we FEEL, which is valid. And when people who run on feelings mess up, number heads want to kick them while their down by saying they should have waited or they should have moved quicker, because, numbers say so.
There are many things in life where it helps to have numbers and we should use them to make a decision, but I don’t think marriage should be one of them because all of the numbers in the world are nothing compared to the truth that is in your heart about the person you’re marrying. If two people aren’t right for each other, numbers don’t mean a damn thing. If two people are perfect for each other, numbers don’t mean a damn thing.
My step-dad was 40-years-old when he married my mom. It was his first marriage. When I look at that, I don’t think to myself how smart he was for waiting to ensure he would not become a divorce statistic. I think it took him that long to find the woman with whom he wanted to spend the rest of his life. As I come up on 33-years-old, that makes more and more sense. When I see my boys getting ready to get married themselves, I don’t see men of a certain age, I see men who want a partner to join them on the rest of their life journey. I see men who are marrying for love, and yeah, I know that’s not the only reason anyone should get married. But love still remains the best reason, while every other reason remains a distant second.
We need to stop telling people how old they should be when they get married because every number cited is arbitrary. Saying someone should wait until they are “older” or 35+ to get married doesn’t make any more sense than saying someone who gets married when they’re “younger” or 25+ is destined for divorce. People who want to spout off all the statistics act like marriage is a game that can be won because they crunched numbers. Marriage is not baseball, football, basketball, chess, or checkers. Marriage is not a game. Marriage is marriage.