There’s No Rush to Get Married
Awhile back, I read an article that bemoaned the latest thing that millennials are killing: marriage. The best time to get married, the article claimed, was in your early 20s.
I thought about that recently when a family member was describing me to someone else. He exaggerated the number of years I’d been married, saying I got married at 23. When I corrected him, he said it sounded “better” if I got married younger.
I actually did get married a little younger than most people do, and while it worked out for me, I couldn’t possibly have gotten married at 23. (For starters, I hadn’t met my now-husband then.) And I’d caution people against the idea that you need to marry as soon as possible.
I certainly remember the pressure, though. When I was in my early 20s, my social media exploded with wedding photos. It seemed like everyone I went to school with was getting married, and there I was, sitting around with nobody.
But back then, I was going to college five days a week and working every weekend. I was not ready to focus on a relationship, let alone plan a wedding. Nor could I afford it.
For many young people, a major reason they’re waiting comes down to finances. Wedding Wire says that the average wedding costs $27,000. That doesn’t even include a ring or honeymoon.
My wedding cost a fraction of that, but when I graduated from college, I was flat broke. There was no one to foot the bill for me. There’s no way I could’ve even taken a handful of people out to dinner at that age.
For many young people, the reason they’re waiting comes down to finances.
And sure, you could skip the rings and honeymoon, go to a courthouse and get the marriage license for the cost of filing. But the wedding isn’t the only expense you have to think about.
Ten years ago, an economic recession occurred. Now, millennials earn less than previous generations did. Housing costs, healthcare, and college tuition all rose higher than incomes. It makes sense that people are holding off from a life decision as big as marriage.
For many people, being married means you’re establishing your own household. You’re making a commitment to someone that you will provide for them, for richer or poorer. But if you’re still paying off student loans and working three jobs to pay for housing, you simply don’t have the time or money to settle down.
Marriage can have a significant impact to your finances over the course of your life. After all, you can share bank accounts, as well as benefits like insurance or liabilities like debt. If you marry the wrong person, it can wreck you, emotionally and financially. Divorce can be time-consuming and expensive.
When you’re single, your finances are your own affairs. But when you’re married, you get to whisper sweet nothings like, “Where’s the W-2 for your taxes?” So romantic!
Also, is marriage really necessary? Is it a goal we should tell people they need to accomplish? Marriage has a lot of benefits, sure. But many people never marry, and live happy, fulfilled lives. Many people remain single, cohabitate, or don’t commit to a relationship. That’s perfectly fine.
Marriage is not something you check off a to-do list. A wedding isn’t an accomplishment; it’s a celebration. You can’t get it by studying hard or taking tests. It’s something you do because you want to share your life with someone. There are no entrance exams or pre-requisites to love.
I’m glad I got married when I did. But as I look at friends and family members’ marriages break down, I know I got lucky. I took my time and married the right person, when it was right for me.
If you get married, do it when you’re ready. Slow down and enjoy your life, on your own terms. Getting married involves walking down the aisle, not running. So take it easy, and don’t worry so much about the destination.