We all want to live "happily ever after." In efforts to secure our love story's fairytale ending, we devour pop-psych materials, follow Twitter feeds of favorite relationship gurus, and scour Your Tango for tips on how to affair proof our marriage—though we have yet to meet our spouse. But one of the most effective ways to hedge your bets in the direction of marital bliss is quite simple: just wait. Read on to learn five important reasons why those who marry later have a better chance of going the distance.
- Divorce Statistics. Young love seems romantic in theory, but tying the knot at an early age puts us at a higher risk of eventual divorce. Recent research indicates that couples who marry in their mid to late thirties are 46% less likely to divorce than those who marry in their early to mid twenties (Rotz, 2011). Interestingly, recent neurological research confirms our brains don't fully mature until we reach the age of 25. Therefore, young adults may think they have a handle on decision-making when in actuality they're operating with limited cognitive capabilities.
- The Need For Self-Exploration. According to developmental psychologists, our twenties and early thirties provide a critical time of exploration in which we learn about ourselves and tackle the question, "Who am I?" Research suggests that if we omit this investigative phase, we "foreclose" on our identities, i.e. we think we have an understanding of who we are but because we haven't experimented on our own, we've merely adopted an identity handed to us by authority figures, typically our parents. Deciphering which elements of our personalities are authentically ours (as opposed to those that were given to us) takes introspection and time. True intimacy necessitates two individuals with solid self-concepts. If we don't know who we are, how can we genuinely share ourselves with another?
- The Importance Of Marrying A Grown Up. Make no mistake about it, some of us marry adults; others marry children. Postponing marriage increases the likelihood of enjoying a mature relationship with a man or woman. Marry young and you may get stuck raising a boy or a girl long before you've had your first baby. Avoid the drama that accompanies youthful unions by growing up yourself and looking for a partner whose emotional maturity matches your own.
- Knowing For Sure You Both Want The Same Things. So much of marriage involves wanting the same things from life. Couples who strive for similar goals and hold the same core values simply have fewer issues to dispute. Sure, opposites attract and sometimes our differences complement one another, but ultimately, the more areas of commonality a couple possesses the better. Once we've taken the time to know ourselves, we more clearly understand what we want from life, which helps us to select a partner with the same vision.
- Older Parents Make Better Parents. Simply put, the older you are, the better parent you'll be. It just makes sense. For one thing, you have more to offer your child—you're smarter, wiser, and have obtained myriad life experiences, which can only serve to enhance your parenting skills. For another, since you spent your twenties in self-exploration, you're now ready to make the sacrifices necessary to be a good parent. Younger parents often struggle financially and emotionally, which can greatly strain their marriage. They may grieve the loss of their freedom and sometimes even resent their children and the demands parenting has placed on their lives. Similarly, since they haven't necessarily solidified their self-concept, they may be at risk of unwittingly "using" their children to give them a sense of purpose and identity.
Remember, there's no better way to give your marriage a fighting chance than to begin it with the right person at the right time. Take a breath. Wait a while. Giving yourself a few extra years for growth and development will pay big dividends for you and your future spouse in the end.
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