I’ve accumulated several licenses after 37 years. These documents empower me as a woman and contribute to my identity. My transition into adulthood is unequivocally tied to my credentials.
My paperwork is a timeline of personal and professional growth. When I received my driver’s license, I felt incredibly free. (It’s amazing what four wheels and four cylinders can do for a 16-year-old). After receiving my dental hygiene license, I felt academically accomplished. When I received my CPR certification, I felt capable in the event of a crisis. Applying for my DBA certificate confirmed my entrepreneurial drive. However, when I signed my name to my marriage license, I felt I had officially entered adulthood.
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Psychological and biological development defines adult maturation. In most cases, chronological age is a determinate of adulthood. (Although, there are grown-ups stuck in sandboxes.) Aside from the anatomical distinctions, I believe the deliberate decision to enter into a marriage is a defining marker of adulthood.
The institution of marriage is more than a legal union of two people. Marriage is the most altruistic alliance two people can form. Pledging your love and fidelity to someone is more than a promise; it is the commitment to a selfless lifestyle. The ability to place your partner before yourself and your own needs is a defining moment of adult maturity.
The loving bond of marriage can only be appreciated through mature cognition. An immature mind can not understand the benefits of married life. Benefits include: unconditional love, an increase in emotional health and physical health, a more satisfying sex life, an increase in financial stability, and an increased lifespan. Conversely, the sacrifices of marriage require mature comprehension.
There is a heightened level of sacrifice and accountability after you say the words, “I do.” You are now responsible for someone else, in addition to yourself. Being selfish is not an option after you state your vows. As a spouse, one of your chief concerns should be the emotional and physical well-being of your partner. Spouses should also be able to nurture their partner’s aspirations and assuage anxieties.
In a marriage, spouses are accountable for their words and actions. Additionally, they are responsible for running a household, contributing to the finances, and parenting children (if a couple decides to raise a family). These tasks require a great deal of maturity and poise, as well as the ability to be self-reflective.
Despite my aforementioned feelings about marriage, I believe the decision to not get married is also a marker of adulthood. Men and women who are emotionally and intellectually mature know that succumbing to societal pressures is not indicative of adulthood.
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Having the ability to recognize a legal union is not appropriate for you and your needs is indicative of being an adult. Having the ability to know you will not settle for second best, and marry just to marry, is an indication of adulthood. Having the ability to break someone’s heart and compassionately tell them you are not in love with them is a marker of maturity.
Marriage is a lifestyle; this lifestyle is not suitable for everyone. I applaud every adult who ignores conventional standards and acknowledges what is truly best for them and their way of life.