My parents got married at 26. This was actually at the time (1970) fairly old to get married. My mom told me once that she didn’t feel most people should get married much younger than that because you change so much in your early twenties. Apparently our society now totally agrees.
In the mid sixties nearly 60% of adults aged 18-29 were married. That number is now 20% and dropping. That is an insane change. Now there are a lot of reasons for this. And there are a lot of implications as well. I’ve said some about that before and will say more later but for today I want to focus on a different question. When are you ready to get married?
I’ve heard the “ready” comment a lot in my years of singleness. Some people use it as an excuse to deal with their commitment issues. “I’m just not ready to get married.” Now I think that it is indeed good to not get married if you don’t want to. What isn’t so good is dating a bunch of people and then never being able to be committed to them. Really if you aren’t ready – should you be in long term relationships as an adult?
This leads us to yet another very relevant question. What is an adult? Apparently in 1960 it was 18. But these days there are people that say you’re an adolescent until 26. Which seems to back up my mom’s thoughts. But 26? Really?!
The world has definitely changed in many, many ways. Some for the better and others not, but I really believe in this context it leads to a lot of confusion. For one thing we are asking Christian guys to basically forgo sex during their prime sex years (not that guys don’t pretty much always desire sex). Hey 15 year old kid, “don’t worry, only 11-15 more years to go. Good luck.”
Should you get married for sex? Well maybe. Not just for that obviously, but I think it’s an underrated reason.
There are all sorts of arguments here. There are indeed statistics that say the older you get married the less likely you are to get divorced and I can see that. You hopefully know more of who you are as a person etc. But that assumes you are actually working on that and not just extending adolescence.
And let’s be honest the older you get the smaller pools you “fish” in. That’s reality. And if you aren’t dating just to date then how do you stay sharp with your dating skills which you actually sort of need to get married?
There are advantages to getting married earlier. For one thing you get to be married longer. You get to start out in life together. But the truth of the matter is that in our culture most 18-23 year olds are generally not as “ready” to be committed. That is more society’s fault than theirs by the way.
So how do we know if we are “ready”?
Here’s truth one: In some ways you are never really “ready”. There probably isn’t going to be that magical moment when you are perfectly ready. And really you can’t know what marriage is like without actually being married. We can, and should know what marriage is – a covenant with God and this other person for life, but that is not the same as being ready.
But that said, here are some things I think are helpful in terms of readiness.
First, do you see yourself as an adult? Marriage does not make you adult, it makes you married. This is important in many ways and probably deserves it’s own post. But my point is it’s helpful to see yourself as an adult if you are going to be married. (For free, it’s good to be an adult. If you are in your mid twenties and you don’t see yourself as an adult – now would be the time).
Second, as a guy, I think you need to know what the heck you are about. What direction do you see your life going? It’s going to go a lot better if when you ask someone to go with you, you were actually going somewhere. I have a friend who onetime told me, that guys should think Master, Mission, Mate, in that order. In other words, know God, know what you are about, invite someone into that with you.
Finally, and this might actually be most important. No matter what age you are, in my opinion, if you find the person you want to marry, make it happen. This assumes they love the Lord etc. but part of being ready to be married has to do with having someone to marry.
I’d love some responses here. When do you think people should start to think about marriage? How do you know you are ready? Are you ready? What would it take to get ready?