Once you have picked the right mate, when is the best time to marry? This differs by culture. Hispanic cultures approve of marriage when the couple are in their teens; the Japanese reserve approval until the partners reach their late 20s; Icelandic culture reserves approval until the couple has lived together; Hopi Indians may also live together and have children before they marry; American culture promotes marriage in the mid-20s for both men and women.
In the US we look at three factors when considering the best time to commit to marriage:
1. Age – age at time of first marriage is a predictor of happiness, those who wait until their mid-20s are more likely to stay married than those who marry in their teens
2. Education – the more education that men and women have at the time of their marriage (and the greater the similarity of their education level) the greater their chance of staying married
3. Career plans – waiting until careers and financial stability are established and realizing that self-care is possible increases marital happiness
Are there reasons for not marrying?
Yes, there are several including:
1. On the rebound, marrying someone immediately after another person has ended a relationship with you. Wait until the satisfactions of being with your current partner outweigh any feelings of revenge.
2. Escape to avoid an unhappy home situation. Continue the relationship until mutual love and respect rather than escape is dominant.
3. Psychological blackmail is not a good reason for marrying. The “I can’t live without you,” “I will commit suicide if you leave,” are blackmail techniques. One partner has learned to manipulate the other and therapy is warranted.
4. Pity is another reason not to marry. Some feel guilty about terminating a relationship with someone they pity. An example would be: The finance’ of one woman got drunk one Halloween night and began to light fireworks on the roof of his fraternity house. As he was running away from a Roman candle he had just ignited, he tripped and fell off the roof. He landed on his head and was in a coma for 3 weeks. A year after the accident his speech and muscle coordination were still adversely affected. The woman said she did not love him anymore but felt guilty about terminating the relationship now that he had become physically afflicted. She was ambivalent. She felt it her duty to marry her finance’, but her feelings were no longer love feelings. What if it wasn’t this drastic, but your partner fails to reach a lifetime goal such as flunking out of dental school? It is important to keep the issue of pity separated from the decision to commit to marriage.
5. Filling a void. An example of this is a college student whose father died of cancer. She noted that his death created a vacuum and that she felt driven to fill it immediately by getting married so that she would have a man in her life. Since she was focused on filling the void, she paid little attention to the personality characteristics of or the relationship with the man who asked to marry her. She reported that she discovered on her wedding night that her new husband had several other girlfriends whom he had no intention of giving up. The marriage was annulled.