Depending on your age, sexual orientation and how you were brought up, you’re likely to have a very specific opinion on the institution of marriage, especially at one of the earliest periods of life, your twenties. And with 60 percent of marriages for couples between the ages of 20 and 25 ending in divorce, (according to the National Center for Health Statistics) we think it’s time for a little chat on marriage, getting in deep early on and the evolution of the holy state of matrimony.
By self-imposed definition, marriage is the legal binding of one’s emotions to another’s bank account through better or worse, richer or poorer, and in sickness and health. It is a union by the law of the land (even though some of those lands don’t support certain marriages), and it is by law, which can easily be terminated through annulment, and definition that we give very little weight to an ideal that can so easily crumble for a young adult. Here’s why…
Ignorance is Bliss, Not Marriage
Right out the gate, I’d like to ask the question, “How can somebody who knows relatively nothing about themselves marry another who knows relatively nothing about themselves?” It sounds like they deserve each other, but it seems a bit unstable to be throwing five different forms of pre-wedding parties for them, doesn’t it? Couples might respond, “When you know, you just know.” To those people, I’d like to counter by asking in ten years when you realize you’ve grown in very different directions, having become a vegan motorcycle enthusiast with little in common with your spouse, is it polite to just suck in your gut and wait for death, or to be honest and tell the truth? That truth being that you don’t much know, nor care for, the person they’ve become and you want out.
Evolution of the soul is bound to happen, both for you and your spouse, so when you tangle yourselves up in the laws of marriage before you’re old enough to rent a car, you’re not allowing yourself a chance to grow for fear of loneliness and losing half your shit, along with the public gossip and scrutiny that follows. This is not a bad thing, because that’s the nature of human existence, but what is the purpose, I inquire, of locking yourself into such a permanent position when you know it could all very quickly change during the most unpredictable years of life?
Locking Down a Door With Other Exits
This is why. Because people love a sense of security, especially when it comes to love and loneliness. Those who cannot exist without an attached identity, like a wife or husband, are miserable by themselves. They can’t go a month without being in a relationship, let alone go stag to the movies without having a panic attack. So there’s this thing called “marriage,” and it basically says that if a guy can get a shiny rock onto a girl’s finger, then she is his forever. Wonderful, isn’t it? By locking down this relationship, you are casting away any outside intruders like extramarital relationships, same-sex competition and the possibility of being alone forever, all of which are actually still looming possibilities with disastrous potential.
With such a high divorce rate for this age bracket, it seems they’re not old enough to understand the weight of matrimonial commitment and therefore carelessly succumb to the regrets and temptations of an unlived wild and decadent twenty-something lifestyle.
Whatever Happened to Ambition?
You may not realize it, but when you sign that marriage license, your plans to travel the world, master your craft and become the best individual you can be often go quickly out the window. Though you might feel the same initially, you’ve become more attached and invested in things outside of who you are, which can distract from a potentially inspiring first decade of adulthood. Instead of pictures of you in front of the Eiffel Tower, it’ll be pictures of you cleaning the baby poo off your favorite shirt.
If you haven’t performed a leap of faith out of a moving plane to your possible death only to parachute to safety, you wouldn’t know you loved that thrill unless you tried it. Much goes the same with general life, and if you’re settling too early into marriage, which acts as a pause button for ambition, there’s a good chance you haven’t discovered as much about yourself as you could. So why not pump the brakes a smidge and take a look at what’s out there on your ride.
The Times Have A’Changed
It’s not the ’50s anymore (or even the ’80s). We live in a very different, Tinder happy time, and your parents’ way of doing things may be outdated. Even though it might have worked for your folks, having the same job and relationship for 30 years isn’t as easy as it used to be. Most people in the younger generation have three vastly different jobs in one year alone. If you can’t decide between being an actor, bartender or scuba instructor, how can you be so sure that the person you want to marry when you’re 21 is the same person you’ll want to be married to at 51, or even 31?
Broke is No Joke
Although money may not seem like everything to you when you’re a single guy living the dream, your reality will spin off its axis when you have a mortgage and an additional one to four people to support. Suddenly, you are the least important person in your life and you’re selling off your prized possessions to pay for your wife’s clothes and jewelry.
Your twenties is typically the poorest period in a person’s life, so taking on an immense load like supporting a family while you’re still learning how to file taxes for your retail job is a heavy burden. Your twenties are meant for enjoyment, squandering and learning things the hard way, so why let those mistakes fall on people you care about when you’re still wearing life’s training wheels?
What’s the Rush?
This is not all to say marriage is a bad thing; in fact, it’s a beautiful thing if you’re in it at the right time with honest intentions and a life well lived. There are two sides to every conversation, sometimes more, but your reality isn’t always an exact reflection of any perspective when it comes to something as both simple and complex as marriage.
Some people enter into it and come out squeaky clean at the end, probably those who are the what-you-see-is-what-you-get types that stick to what they know. Others, however, the ones who want to see the world, try a couple significant others on for size and push their boundaries are more likely to find difficulty in sustaining the same relationship over a lengthy period of time, at least until they’re a bit older.
Let It Be
So if you stay with someone every year of your twenties without getting hitched, that points to the fact that you genuinely want that person, hopefully your best friend, in your life first and foremost. Abstaining from marriage early on brings you a daily challenge to stay relevant in someone’s life. Otherwise, you just let yourselves go and lose that spark to a life you no longer recognize.
So have a little faith and know if it’s meant to be, it’ll be. Or it won’t, in which case it wasn’t actually meant to be. Life is about creating a world for yourself, not about hunting down and capturing someone to add meaning to your life. And life’s “meaning” doesn’t come from the world after the first stop anyway, so stay on board and see where the ride takes you.