Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Why It's Alright (And Even Better) To Marry Late

Falling in love is easy. Once puberty hits, our hormones trigger potent biochemical synapses to muddle our brain cells and override logic. We all say and do the silliest things, in the name of love.

Getting married is harder. But only slightly harder by a few more years, few more heart-to-heart talks and few more visits mandated by the dreaded parental approval mechanism. By thirty, most of us have already tied the knot. Some seal the deal in their early twenties, most try to beat the biological clock before it hits thirty.

The big 3-0 - that's the unspoken deadline. Stay single pass thirty, and society eyes at you as if you've infected with some unknown alien strain, and your family and friends take upon the collective burden to match you with another wretched lonely soul.

Despite what the doomsayers say, there's nothing wrong with marrying late. Instead, marrying late may actually help make your marriage last.

1. We Meet More People

It's simple maths. The older we are, the more people we would've met in our lifetime.

How many people actually marry their first love? Hardly - probably one out of a hundred. Reason being, love comes with experience, love is about trial and error, love is almost like searching for a needle in a haystack. We fall in and out of love periodically, from adolescence to adulthood. That's life.

Why limit ourselves to people we know from school, office or church? What's stopping us from picking up strangers, going on blind dates, experimenting on speed dating or online dating? Do the maths. The world's population is in the billions (fine, most of us are heterosexuals, so half that amount). Your immediate circle of friends are but a few hundreds. Marrying your childhood sweetheart or college crush may make a good heart-warming story. But let's face it: statistically, the odds of finding your soul-mate in the same city, what more the same local community, are against you.

Sure, your childhood sweetheart or college crush may truly be The One. But that's still not a good reason to marry young. How can you be sure that no one else can compare to The One, unless you've dated other people? What's wrong taking a break from each other? If a couple is truly meant for each other, they'll end up with each other. It's not wistful thinking. It's what true love ought to be, no? That no matter how far apart they split and how far astray they wander, love will prevail and reunite them together.

My own quest to find true love takes me to many a strange, forbidden land 

2. We Need To Pass Through The Turbulent Phases Of Youth

We were not the persons we once were before.

As we grow older, we gain new experiences, we discard old habits. Our philosophies and priorities in life constantly evolve. Once upon a time we partied every Friday night, but now we're tucked in bed by ten so that we can hike up a hill and catch the Saturday sunrise. Once upon a time we chased after short skirts and fast cars, but now we look out for the future parent of our child.

Why do we change? Plenty of reasons why. Perhaps we've climbed a few rungs up the social ladder. Perhaps we've been travelling more, and our travels have opened our eyes, minds and hearts. Perhaps some of our basic needs become less important over time (e.g. biological and security) and are supplanted by a new level of needs (e.g. social, esteem and self-actualisation).

How can you love someone and be loved for who you are, if you haven't even reveal your true colours? And that's why most early marriages fail - couples marry too early, only to change their stripes and discover they're not a right fit for each other after all. Marriage doesn't necessarily fail because people cheat or lie. It may fail simply because they gradually realise that their passions have faded, their personalities collide and their paths are diverging.

We all pass through different phases in life. Naturally, the phases run shorter and quicker whilst we're younger. If we're constantly moving and changing directions, we shouldn't be taking a vow to stay put with someone else. Otherwise, we'll burst ahead, leaving our partner behind, hurt and betrayed.

Get pass the turbulent phases of youth first. Then get married.

Some people, however, never change.

3. We Need Time And Space To Grow

Making a marriage work requires great commitment and sacrifice. So is chasing dreams and discovering oneself.

Marriage carries a heavy responsibility. Being a loving spouse and parent demands our undivided attention. We have less time and energy set aside for our own personal ambitions. It's idealistic to assume that we can grow up and grow old with someone at the same time. We're not superheroes. Even the best of us struggle to juggle between marriage and ambition.The late Nelson Mandela was a great leader, but his personal life was less than perfect - imprisonment and politics left his three wives and six children largely neglected.

This year, George Clooney, eternal Hollywood heartthrob, finally tied the knot at age 52, more than 20 years after his first failed marriage. This came as a surprise to many, as he has frequently declared in interviews he would never remarry. The admirable aspect of his (former) bachelorhood was his brutal honesty: "I am never at home and every woman gets sick of it. If I was them, I would never put up with me for long, and they don't."

Most men wouldn't be that honest. And neither would the rising population of career-driven women. Marriages fail because couples commit, despite not being ready to. They think they're superheroes, they think they can do a million and one things at once. But they're only deluding themselves and being selfish. We should cherish our partners not only for the person they are, but also for the person they aspire to be. Love should nurture, not stunt, a person's growth.

It's sad to see a marriage fall apart because of ambition. It's equally sad to see ambitions go unfulfilled because of marriage. Be honest like George Clooney. Feel free to fall in love and dive into relationships. But if you can't give your all to the one you love, please don't get married just yet.
Sorry ladies, he's taken.

4. We Shouldn't Marry For The Wrong Reasons

Marriage is a lifetime commitment. To make it last, we have to make sure we're entering into a marriage for the right reasons.

And yet, a lot of young folks don't heed this simple advice. Some foolishly rush into marriage for silly, short-sighted reasons (tax breaks, medical benefits, joint house ownership, etc.). Then there are couples who are stuck in a listless relationship for so long that they're secretly afraid that they've been 'out of touch' with the 'game', hence resigned to settle with whatever mediocre modicum of affection they still have for each other, instead of calling it quits and start looking for love afresh (as they should). Neither is the burning urge to have children a valid reason to marry - for if we marry the wrong person and subsequently get divorced, the poor children stand to suffer the most from our selfishness.

Every marriage - at the bare minimum - ought to be forged by genuine feelings of love tempered with a sense of realism. If you marry young, chances are you're not thinking far ahead, marrying for shaky reasons, and ultimately making one big mistake. Be patient, be honest. It's not that hard.

Better Late Than Wrong

The late comedian Robin Williams once said: "I used to think the worst thing in life is to end up all alone. It's not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel all alone."

Obviously, it's wrong to marry the wrong person. But it's also wrong to marry the right person at the wrong time or for the wrong reasons.

Fall in love. Fall out of love. Fall back in love. Fall deeper in love. Take your time, explore, be true to yourself and don't be afraid to let go.

Not all seeds of love will bloom into flowers of marriage. Only those that have uprooted deep into the ground and branched up high into the skies eventually do. Love that blooms late, blooms the longest.

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