It doesn't matter if you're currently in a relationship, or completely single — I bet you feel some kind of pressure to get married. If this is a goal of yours (because it definitely isn't for everyone), then you probably even have a timeframe for yourself, or some deadline you're trying to beat. But guess what? It's completely OK to wait to get married until later on in life.
That's because, regardless of what society (or our family and friends) have to say, there is no "right" time to get married. If you'd like to get married at 20, or 30, or even 60, it's totally up to you. The only thing that does matter is if the commitment, and the timing, feels right to you.
That, and whether or not you (and your partner) have the maturity necessary for such a big decision. "Maturity and good relationship skills are key elements of a healthy marriage," Chicago-based counselor Julienne B. Derichs, LCPC tells Bustle. "Are you ready for collaboration, compromise, not getting your way, fighting fair, sharing goals, or being influenced by your SO in a healthy way?"
If not, it may be a good idea to wait until you're ready to find that balance. You might also want to work on yourself, finish school, travel all by your lonesome, or simply wait until you feel "ready." Any of that sound familiar? Then read on for a few more signs you should probably get married later in life, as well as why that's perfectly OK.
1. You Don't Know How To Handle Conflict
Even if you have a great relationship, you and your partner will eventually disagree, argue, and go through incredible ups and downs. So be honest — can you handle that? Or do you think you'd probably bail? "Getting married is about deciding to stick through those conflicts with this partner," says child and family therapist Shanna Donhauser, in an email to Bustle. If you don't know how to handle conflict, it may be worth waiting 'til you do.
2. You Still Don't Know How To Make Your Own Decisions
If you have trouble making decisions and/or being on your own, you might need to take some time and live alone for awhile. Which is, of course, totally OK. "If you have trouble making decisions ... you are still developing,"says counselor Kristen Craren. "Go find yourself just by trying new things and living life." It'll help you get to know yourself, and will make for a healthier marriage down the road.
3. You Never Got A Chance To Date
If you found a great partner right off the bat, don't feel like you need to "play the field" before getting married. But do know that dating is a great way to figure out what you want out of life. "The more a woman dates, the more she will learn who she is and what motivates her," says speaker and spiritual counselor Davida Rappaport. "She can figure out what she likes/doesn’t like and what she needs from a [partner.]"
4. You Currently Require Tons Of Alone Time
Everyone needs time by themselves, no doubt about it. But being in a relationship means sharing your life, and thus sharing a little bit more of your time. So if you don't know how to do that (or simply don't want to) it's probably smart to put off marriage until you resolve the "tug of war," says Derichs. "Seeing intimacy versus independence as a negotiation, rather than a battle, is a reminder that intimacy starts by meeting each other’s needs rather than fighting to preserve your own."
5. You'd Like To Focus On Your Career Right Now
It's 100 percent possible to pursue your career, go to school, and have a relationship. But if you'd like to give it all your attention, it may be a good idea to put off marriage 'til you get that diploma. As Derichs says, "It's not that a woman can't pursue her own career while married, but it can make things more complicated when she has to consider another person's career."
6. You'd Really Like To Be Financially Secure
Everyone has different views on money and financial security. If you'd like to build those things with a partner, please feel free. But many people want to become financially secure on their own before starting a marriage — even if it's just to contribute equally to their partnership. As Derichs tells me, both are healthy goals to consider before getting married.
7. You'd Like To Be In A Better Spot Emotionally
If you're in a bad spot — maybe due to a toxic experience with an ex — it isn't smart to rush into marriage as a way of "fixing" yourself or feeling better. "These are signs you may need some time to work on you a bit longer," Derichs says. "You may need more time to work through these issues on your own or in counseling." Rushing into a committed partnership when you aren't ready emotionally is often a recipe for disaster.
8. You're Still Working On Yourself
Again, it's perfectly possible to work on yourself while in a relationship. It's often even easier, in a lot of ways, since you've got a a built-in support system. But that's not to say it's smart to get married when you aren't feeling whole as a person. As psychologist Dr. Nikki Martinez tells me, it's a good idea to fill in the gaps in your life — whatever they may — on your own before attempting to share your life with someone else.
9. You're Only Considering It Because You Feel Pressured
Whether the pressure is coming from yourself, your partner, or society in general, don't rush into marriage just because someone else said it's a good idea. Just be clear that you'd like to wait, and make that clear for your partner. "They need to understand that it says nothing of your feelings for them, but rather what you know about yourself," Martinez says. "That you care so much about them that you don't want to jump into something before it is the right time."
10. Marriage Is Not A Part Of Your Immediate Goals
You should get married because you want to, not because you feel you have to. If it's not a part of your plan, don't give into that pressure. "Career or self discovery are important aspects to a person's life and if there are other priorities taking immediate precedence, then the focus should be on other areas of your life," says NYC-based therapist Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW. "It is nearly impossible to be present for others when you have not taken care of yourself first."
11. You're Having Problems In Your Relationship
This one may seem obvious. I mean, who would want to get married when things aren't going well? And yet it happens all the time. If you aren't sure about it, but are feeling pressured, it's definitely a good idea to wait. "Marriage doesn't 'fix' things," says Julia Coronado, an empowerment and accountability coach. "If there is anything you would like different than what you're experiencing, hold off on getting married."
And give yourself some time to think. If you'd like to get married, there's no need to feel like you have to do so now. It's perfectly fine to wait until later in life.
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