No one can tell when to marry just by counting birthdays. There are better ways of knowing when to marry than by setting an arbitrary age. Age is important enough, however, so that we can say that the extremes should be avoided.
The ideal time to marry is somewhere in the twenties, but the best time can be determined more by personal accomplishments, attitudes, and circumstances than by any arbitrary setting of age limits. If you are still single, or if you are called upon for advice, there are several considerations that will serve to guide you in deciding when to marry.
1. Are You Sufficiently Mature?
When you are ready for marriage, you will possess frame of mind that enables you to realize that the successful husband or wife is concerned as much with his/her partner’s welfare as with his/her own. When you are mature enough to marry you will be more interested in contributing to the welfare of your home than in pursuing the youthful adventures that held your attention formerly.
Motor cycles, cars, clothes, parties, sports, may still be interesting to you, but they will be in second place compared with the welfare of your partner in marriage. The expanding of your savings account in prospect of your marriage will take priority over the personal indulgences that used to appear important.
When you are ready for marriage you will gladly be faithful in limiting your social attentions to the one with whom you are to share married life. It means that you will not make remarks, even in fun, that will cast reflection on the sacredness of marriage or that will introduce the thought of a third-party. You will expect to avoid the appearance of flirtation with any person of the other sex.
When you reach the degree of maturity that prepares you for successful marriage, you will welcome the prospect of perpetual companionship with your spouse and will expect to forego participation in parties where your wife or husband cannot be with you. This does not mean that a married person must become antisocial.
On the contrary, marriage gives more opportunities or sociability and hospitality. Social activities in marriage should be planned so that they are pleasurable for both husband and wife. They should serve to strengthen the common interests of a couple rather than to draw them into separate social circles.
A mature attitude makes you recognize that marriage is a partnership in which the partners are entitled to equal status. If you are a young man, you will be ready to accept your wife as your intellectual equal. You will consider her worthy to share with you in making the major decisions on which the affairs of your home will depend.
If you are a girl, you will expect to esteem your husband of the future as much as you expect him to adore you. You will not look forward to opportunities to dominate him. You will expect to carry well the responsibilities that rightly belong to a wife. You will not picture yourself in the role of a queen who approves this and vetoes that, depending on your mood of the moment.
2. Is There A Vocation?
It would be presumptuous for you, in the setting of engagement, to blindly trust that “something will work out so that we can make a living.” If you are a young man, your wife’s status will depend very definitely on what you do to make a living. If you become a plumber, your wife will be known as the plumber’s wife.
If you become a pharmacist, she will be known accordingly. If you become a businessman, the furnishings of your home as well as the kind of clothes your wife will wear will reflect the degree of success that attends your business.
Wise young people will not marry until the young man has actual know-how for making a living. The wishful thinking, “I plan to be an accountant,” or “I would like to be a teacher,” does not provide a stable foundation for marriage.
It is ideal for young people to have finished their education and for the young man to have employment by the time he is married. Then the prospective husband and wife will know about what income to expect and can plan accordingly. Responsible young people will not want to marry until they know how they are going to support themselves after marriage.
3. Do Your Parents Approve?
There are some events, such as birth and death, over which you have no control. But of those events of your life in which you have a part, marriage is one of the most important. In this major undertaking you will benefit by asking your parents to give you the advantage of their longer experience. Of all persons whose counsel you may seek, parents will be the most interested in your welfare and usually the most able to give you good advice.
In the ideal marriage relationship a person does not sever his ties with the other members of his family. He merely enlarged the circle of his relatives to include the members of his spouse’s family. Even though a husband and wife have a separate home of their own, it is surely desirable that their relations with the parents of both sides remain cordial.
4. Have You Found The Right One?
Perhaps this item should have come first in our list of criteria for marriage. In many ways it is the most important of the several items listed. Surely you should not marry until you are confident that the young person whose life is to become part of yours is the very one with whom you can spend your life most happily.
5. Are You Ready To Give Your Spouse First Place?
When a bride runs home to mother because her feelings are hurt, we see one example of what happens when young people marry before they have sensed the full meaning of the responsibility of wedlock. The young husband who confides in some former friend by telling him about his experience in marriage adjustment is also indicating that he was not ready to assume his rightful place as protector and guardian of the newly established home.
The marriage vows require loyalty not only in matters of personal affection but in the entire range of human relationships. This loyalty demands patience with the other’s shortcomings, forgiveness in the event of mistakes, and steadfastness in the face of disappointment.
6. Are You Agreed On A Plan For Your Home Life?
Before your plans for marriage become final you and your intended should have talked through the various matters that relate to your future welfare. There should be a complete understanding not only on the choice of a vocation and on the means of your support but also on matters of consciences, on the question of where to establish your home, on whether the wife will work, on plans for children of the future. Only after you have reached firm agreements on these and other matters that pertain to your home life, are you justified in going ahead with your plans for marriage.
If you and your intended are unable to agree on such matters, this is evidence that you are not yet ready to marry. But if careful planning together brings you into attitudes by which you each are more and more willing to give and take as may be necessary, this is assurance that you are acting wisely in moving toward marriage.