Have you ever thought about how many dates is the right number before having sex with a new partner? Your Guy’s Guy says, “You can have sex on the first date or the tenth. What counts is when it feels right.” It’s the same with getting married.
Some daters are serial monogamists. They prefer the comfort of spending time with one partner and seeing what happens as the relationship unfolds. These folks often get married at a young age. The divorce rate is over fifty percent, and I’ll bet a majority of them occur when people get married too early.
Others, like myself, prefer playing the field until they figure things out. And by that I mean taking the time to understand themselves and what works for them. For people like me, that can be a long process that includes lots of dates and romances. And for this Guy’s Guy, it meant taking a very long time before getting married. In fact, I was single so long that over time at holiday get-togethers, no one in my family even bothered asking me when I was getting married. It was a foregone conclusion that I would remain a bachelor. But they were wrong.
I’ve been married now for almost seven years and time has gone by quickly. During these years of what I still call my marriage bliss, I’ve learned a lot about myself, the meaning of marriage, and when it’s best to tie the knot. I’ll tackle that first. My advice is for you to get married when it feels right. If it doesn’t feel one hundred percent right in your head, your heart, and your soul, don’t do it. Also, love yourself. If you don’t love yourself, how can you expect anyone else to love you?
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I’d like to share some considerations, along with the pros and cons, and insights I’ve gleaned. So, without further ado, here is my Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Marrying Later in Life.
Drum roll, please.
You can be a better partner – Man, I really messed up a lot of relationships with some great women before I got married. Most of the damage was self-inflicted. While my partners quietly fumed about my insensitive behavior and my selfishness, I strutted about thinking nothing was wrong until it was too late. This happened more than once. Fortunately, although I can be a slow learner, I finally realized what I had doing wrong in my relationships for so many years. How did I find out? After my third date with the women who is now my wife, I asked her what I needed to do to be a good boyfriend. I told her that I had a number of failed relationships and although I was a decent guy, my behavior must have been lacking in some ways. She said, “Pay attention”. I nodded and asked her if there was anything else. She quietly said, “No”. That’s when the light bulb lit up above my head. My mind shifted into a rapid review of all of my past relationships, and sure enough she was right. In many ways, I had not been paying enough attention to my partner or the nuances of the relationships. And I thought that if they had a problem, they would say so. But, a lot of women expect the guy to know how she is feeling. That’s because they always seem to know how we are feeling. It’s because women pay attention. But at least I now knew what the problem was. So, I was on my way to relationship success. We got engaged after dating for one year and were married a year later almost to the day.
I attribute having this life-changing epiphany partly because I waited until I knew who I was and how to be a better partner before getting married. So chalk one up for waiting until you’re really ready before getting married. It worked for me. Of course simply knowing is not the same as putting “paying attention” into practice. And I often catch myself slipping in this area. But, I’ve been married for over six years so I must have stepped up a bit.
You know yourself better and are more established – A lot of couples in their early twenties get married and by the time they hit thirty, they are different people who are going in different directions. Some call this their starter marriage. I call that bullshit. Marriage is marriage. You can define the terms however you want, but it’s not disposable for a Guy’s Guy. And that’s another reason why I waited. I wanted to have a solid grip on every aspect of myself, and my career before getting married, and I expected the same from my life partner. I suspect marriage is a lot easier when both participants have their feet on the ground and their dreams and goals clearly defined. It takes time for many people to get to this place. Money can certainly be a factor, but finding your footing in life is more than that. And it’s much easier to share your life with someone when you are comfortable in your own skin and know how to survive and thrive on your own. Your spouse is your partner, not your savior. Chalk up another point for waiting until you know who you are before getting married.
Having kids changes everything – I have aging parents and a young son. That can be tricky and draining also. I love my son so much, and I think I’m a better parent now than I would have been a thirty. I know who I am and I have the patience required to succeed with a toddler. But, psychologically, being an older parent can be challenging. I push myself constantly to live a healthy lifestyle and stay in top condition physically, mentally, and spiritually. I want to share as much time as possible with my son and to do so I’ve had to make sacrifices. But that’s fine.
When I was single, I played golf every weekend. Now, I’m at the playground with the kid. It’s a small price to pay, even though I do love golfing.
Though, at times I get sad when I think about our age difference. In fact, my wife and I are considering having yet another child so our son has a sibling he can know and love as he gets older, and we get well, even older. It’s a toss up, but I have to confess, it’s probably better having kids earlier, so chalk one up for not waiting too long to get married.
There are lots more considerations, but I think I hit on the three macro issues when considering how long to wait until getting married. And again, no matter what, if you take the time to know and get comfortable with yourself, you’ll increase your chances of having a successful marriage. I’ll say it one more time. If it does not feel right, don’t do it. No matter how lonely you may be or how wonderful your current partner is, if in your heart of hearts you do not believe they are, “The One”, then wait.This Week’s Guys’ Guys of the Week are my parents, Serge and Carole Manni. Unlike me, they got married very young and have been successfully married for the past sixty-six years. Go figure.