Getting married is one of the most important decisions you will ever make in your life.
Ironically, a lot of people must be getting it wrong because the divorce rate in America is over fifty percent. Personally, I waited a long time before getting married. In fact, I waited so long that most of my nieces and nephews got married and had kids before their Uncle Bob even popped the question. I waited so long that no one in my family even bothered asking me when I was getting married at holiday get-togethers. Not even my mother. Now, that’s a long time.
Looking back I realized that I had my reasons for the delay and in retrospect I’m glad I waited. Although my wife and I are older parents now of a young son and we need to factor time into family-based decisions, I’m happy that I waited for two main reasons. First, I was not ready to get married until a few months before we met and more importantly, she is the right person for me. It’s that simple. I do not look back with regret or question myself with mental what if’s— like would I have wanted to get married if we’d met when I was thirty? We’re here now. And now is the best time because now is all that matters. Without getting philosophical, let me share some of what I learned about the overall process and feelings about getting married with you.
Know who you are and what you want.
Although I was blessed with growing up with a mother, father, and an older brother, I really did not have a mentor. In fact, beyond living in a loving household with strong values and good people, I was always considered the odd duck. As a result, I learned most of what I know now by sorting through things on my own. And in many cases that took me a longer time than others. When it came to women, I did not have any sisters or female cousins so I was a slow learner and often mystified by these strange female creatures.
I left for college at the age of seventeen and over the next few decades learned a lot about women, and most it the hard way. I had a number of girlfriends, random hook ups, and rejections, but I really did not know who I was or what I was looking for until later in life and a few years before is was too late. I enjoyed living the good life in New York City with a good career and all the sex. Why would I want to give that up? So, I didn’t. Friends got married. Friends had kids. Guys cheated on their wives. Friends got divorced. I remained single.
I did get involved a few long-term relationships and stayed with two-live in partners for too long. As a result we burned valuable time. They both ultimately walked out on me, and in the long run both times I was better off. I continued dating and really hit the jackpot when online dating became the norm. I never realized how easy it was to meet so many great women in New York. But then something hit me. I realized that I had become somewhat of a selfish lout. I was getting bored with myself and finally ready to get married. Now that’s not the greatest path to this realization nor does it bide well for a potential partner, but that’s how it happened for me. And more importantly, I somehow knew I had to create room in my heart for someone new. And that was it. So maybe I wasn’t such a bad guy after all.
I told my mother I’d be getting married soon. Of course she was excited and wanted to know the woman’s name. I told her I did not know her name yet, but I knew it would happen soon. She gave me a strange look, but the following year I introduced my mother to my future wife. I’m not saying things happen exactly like this for everyone or that this is how things should happen, but this is what happened to me. Somehow, I knew when I was ready to share and I knew deep down inside that I needed to make room for someone else in my heart for marriage to be successful. I don’t think I would have been happy being married until I experienced this epiphany.
I never thought I would get married until I decided that I wanted to get married and I never thought about being a parent until I was ready to become a parent. And so far, things are working out nicely. I’m still self-centered to a certain extent. But I don’t have as much time to think only about myself or my needs now, and as a result, my capacity to love others has increased exponentially. And, that’s a good thing.
The bottom line is that when it comes to marriage; follow your own internal compass. No matter what your age is, don’t let yourself be swayed by your family, friends, or society. When you are ready to get married, you’ll know it. And, hopefully you will have created a huge space in your heart to share with your life partner.
Next time we’ll tackle the basics of getting engaged. Until then, love yourself, amigos.