I just received the following message from an anonymous reader regarding marriage:
Im 20 and my boyfriend is 29. We are in love and have been together for almost 2 years, but im worried I might still be too young to get married?”
Interesting question, and one I receive quite often from readers who are involved in serious relationships at a relatively young age. Surprisingly, I have found this question coming from men almost as often as I have from women.
Marriage Is All Over the Place
The answer? It completely depends on your situation. There’s no real “minimum” age for marriage.
First of all, marriage tends to happen at different ages throughout the world. In India and many parts of South Asia, for example, women tend to marry at a young age because their marriages are arranged in advance by their parents and families. So, in those cases, the answer is probably “no” since it’s normal for women to get married after they reach 17 or 18 years old.
In Europe and North America, however, the age of marriage varies greatly. Once you’ve reached the age of majority — typically around 18 — you are free to get married whenever you see fit.
That said, if you’re serious about getting married once and staying with your spouse for the rest of your life, then you probably need to take a number of things into consideration.
The Truly One and Only?
First and foremost: do I love this person so much that I can’t imagine myself with anyone else? That question is typically much easier to answer if you’ve been involved in several serious relationships in the past, so that you have something to gauge your feelings against.
Another question you should ask yourself is am I in a position where marriage is feasible and won’t disrupt my future?
For example, if your potential spouse is moving across the world for a new job, will your marriage to this person conflict with your ability to finish your education or remove you from your friends and family who may provide a critical support network?
You’re Getting Married … Because?
Of course it’s also important to ask am I getting married for the right reasons? In other words, am I choosing to get married because I love my partner and want to spend the rest of my life with him/her, or are you getting married because your partner threatens to leave you if you refuse? Or are you buckling under pressure from friends and family?
My personal recommendation is to get married only when you have the necessary dating experience to evaluate the strength of your bond.
Sometimes you may know almost immediately that your boyfriend or girlfriend is your soulmate, and you may not need to date anyone else to figure this out. More often, however, you need to experience love with several people until you can truly understand how much you love someone and whether that love is strong enough to consider marriage.
In conclusion, I will simply say this: Marriage should be something you plan on doing once, so you need to be absolutely certain that you’re making the right decision.
If you’re an adult and you can confidently answer that question, then you’re old enough to make the decision to get married.