Are present day couples who live together destined for marriages that succeed or fail? And why are parents and other important adults in young people’s lives not speaking up more?
In the past, we had a relationship road map that went something like this: you meet someone you are attracted to, you become friends, you decide to date, you grow closer, and then the physical part of the relationship develops. Of course everyone didn’t follow this script, but it was at least the ideal. Remember that today’s parents were yesterday’s 60’s hippies, and the ‘summer of love’ was coined for a reason.
Today, the sequence has changed. You meet at a party, hook up, perhaps become friends-with-benefits, maybe start dating, and more often then not move onto the next encounter. For young couples who stay together, the next step in the relationship is to consider moving in together because it’s more cost effective and convenient. And there seems to be little motivation to move to the next level of marriage, meaning couples stay playing house for years, with or without kids.
And believe it or not, I’m not judging this as bad or wrong. I don’t think there has to be a single, right path for every couple. But I do have some concerns about this process.
I want young adults to understand that there is value in growing together through tough times; by tough times I mean the lean years when you are starting out in your career, living in a less-than-perfect apartment, struggling through the normal ups and downs of becoming a responsible adult, and striving to make headway towards your futures.
Today’s mantra seems to be that you must have all your ducks in a row before you tie the knot. And so marriage ends up falling to the end of the line of goals and accomplishments. The worry here is that you may never feel like it’s all perfectly in line, and suddenly you find yourself in your mid-30’s and a bit desperate. It’s not just your biologic clock that starts clanging; it may also be your psychological and earning’s clocks that go off.
I find people in this predicament feeling pulled: on the one hand, they are still pressing to find the ‘perfect’ match; but they also feel pressured to settle for someone, anyone, to marry and have children with.
There is a part of me that says: “If you love someone enough to move in with, then maybe you should consider making the real commitment of marriage. You can never be fully ready for this pledge; there is a lot of personal and relationship growth that can only occur when you are in a committed relationship.
Don’t put off marrying because you can’t find the perfect person; there is no such animal.
Don’t wait until all of your ducks are in a row; it’s too easy to make excuses because you end up with the mindset that it’s never enough.
And don’t forget that living through the growing pains that come with starting a career, family, and life together will be fun, exciting, and fulfilling.