By Liz Anoushka
Dating, relationships and marriage don’t come with a manual albeit once we have “been there, done that” the experiences and regrets have us wondering what would have happened if we took our chances sooner or waited a little longer before jumping in head first. We ponder whether the outcome would have been any different or better.
Our decisions and timings are often influenced by society, community, cultural and spiritual convictions, family background and more factors. The age at which you date, get engaged or marry may not be an issue for a small percentage of us who go on to have awesome, strong, forever relationships with our significant others whether we start the intimate journey when much younger or much later on in our lives. But what if there was an age, what would the number be? Well, 32 to 35 years old, but for purposes of this article let’s do 35 as our average number. Here’s why..
You need time
Relationships can be demanding and you need time to yourself before you can commit to sharing that time with someone else. Whether it’s allowing yourself to explore the world at your pace, tick achievements off your bucket list, pursue your studies, establish and grow your business, get that much needed counseling or treatment for that complicated medical condition, the list is endless. Thing is, in a serious relationship, there’s compromise and while this can be a beautiful thing, many people feel there’s a huge part of their lives they let slip through their hands at the end of a relationship whether through a breakup, separation or divorce. It’s a common regret for those who rush into commitment at an early age only to realise later that we are much older and there are things we could have done in our youthful days that we no longer can. Time for yourself is important and who knows if it will help you decide more wisely whether or not dating, relationships or marriage are for you.
Obligation and Choice
As controversial as it may seem, you’re not obligated to date, be engaged or marry for whatever reason or within a certain predetermined age range. It’s a choice you have every right to make for yourself. Sure, certain unions may be forced on a couple due to religious, cultural and other reasons. However, when you put your needs first above the expectations of friends to be a people-pleaser, marry for inheritance, stress over your biological clock, or try to blend in with all your dating and married friends and colleagues, then it makes it easier to make a choice that’s in your best interests and not because you’re trying to please others at your expense.
Self-discovery and Self-love
A relationship is not the right ‘place’ nor ‘time’ to embark on a journey of self-discovery and self-love. Doing this will often come across as selfish and a waste of time for you and your significant other. The best time for self-discovery, practicing and perfecting self-love is before entering a serious relationship. Take as much time as you need to work on your personality, weaknesses, strengths, hobbies, skills, talents, style, self-esteem, and whatever else needs working on. Have you experienced awful, traumatic or depressing moments you need to confront and get over? Then seeking professional counseling, therapy or some form of mentorship while still single will help you be more balanced whenever you decide you’re ready to commit to a serious relationship. This is also an amazing time to spoil yourself, spend on yourself, invest in yourself, and celebrate you whenever you have the chance and means. By doing this you will avoid being so clingy, dependent, and reliant on someone else to love you because you have learned to love and celebrate ‘you’ enough already, you don’t need someone else’s love as validation.
Give and take
Reciprocity is crucial in strengthening a relationship and holding a marriage together for longer. Everyone pulls their weight, invests their best in the relationship to make it work and thrive, and you can’t afford to be selfish. But, how can you give what you don’t have? Before you can pour yourself into a relationship emotionally, spiritually, financially, intellectually, and otherwise, you first of all need to grow these aspects of your life to healthy levels where you can then share them with someone else. It takes time to achieve these for yourself considering you need time to concentrate on school, find a job in a highly competitive global labour market with high unemployment rates, try a few times before your idea can become a successful business, and so on. It’s normal and realistic to expect the usual set backs and delays when starting out and it’s crucial you don’t rush the process.
Solo Dreams and Dual Goals
It’s not wise to put off your life dreams prematurely for a relationship, many have lived to regret it. Rather take your time and pursue those dreams especially the ones you can do solo as doing so while in a relationship may easily be misunderstood. Then when you feel satisfied with your solo accomplishments and ‘failures’ and the excitment or curiosity is fulfilled, you can then embark on pursuing mutual goals and dreams you share with the person you later on have the golden opportunity to date or have a serious relationship with.
Money, Finances and Divorce
Money rules the world, no doubt! With breakups, separation, and divorces being attributed to poor personal finance habits, dishonesty, couples stealing from each other, bankruptcy, debts, blackmail, and more, you want to minimise the chances of this happening should you eventually seek a serious relationship with your special someone. It takes time to attain and practice sound financial literacy, grow your savings and steady income streams, secure insurance, assets or investment opportunities, protect your finances and investments, repay debts and achieve a reasonable level of financial independence. Once you have attained this, it’s important the person you choose to date has achieved the same or more as this will help both of you push each other forward other than one or both holding the other back. Some of us attain this sooner, however many of us spend our entire youth swimming against the waves of constant financial struggles and eventually allow the resultant stress to spill over and ruin would-be beautiful relationships.
Other people’s experiences
Experience is the best teacher when you save yourself the heartache of ‘trial and error’ by observing the decisions and experiences of other couples and their relationships before getting into one yourself. Over time, you will know what’s more likely to work and what won’t after you have been to all those engagement parties, bridal showers, weddings, baby showers, and have listened to all the secrets, fights and conversations your happily-engaged, not-so-happily married, and remorsefully divorced or separated friends confide in you about. There’s an abundance of wisdom in learning from others and reminding yourself it could be you making worse mistakes or scoring big. Having a baby is exciting but demanding and life-changing. Relationships and marriages are not for the faint-hearted. Separation, breakups and divorce are real, heartbreaking and can determine your health and longevity significantly.
Sense of maturity
At 35 years old it’s not guaranteed that you will have attained a reasonable level of maturity and stability, financially, emotionally, socially, spiritually, or otherwise. However, if you’re intentional in your journey and have set some goals, it is possible otherwise it’s much easier to commit earlier and end up feeling trapped with doubts that maybe you rushed into something you honestly weren’t that prepared for. It’s also great to know that those around you, including your special someone will need time too to discover themselves and embark on their own journey. They will make their share of mistakes or accomplishments and should have a better perspective of life as they’re slowly exiting the youth age bracket.
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