Some common questions people ask me about marriage are: “With so many life options, how do you know when you should get married?” “When should you be dating just to have fun?” and “Is it ever too early to start thinking about these major life decisions?”
As a relationship coach and former matchmaker, I can confidently say that the number one regret many of my professional, never-married female clients over 35 years old tell me they have is not having made time for love. They were so caught up in their career goals that they “forgot” to get married. They always believed they had plenty of time. Most panic and want to meet someone immediately, trying to make up for lost time. In the back of their minds, they did not consciously say, “Marriage is unimportant to me,” but, “I don’t have time right now, but will make it a priority soon … just after I complete this next goal.” Since marriage wasn’t immediately on their radar, they took no actions to achieve that goal. The result? Their lack of forethought led to a future they didn’t anticipate—a future they previously took as a given.
This attitude of postponing marriage is reflected in a recent article in The Sydney Morning Herald. The Australian Bureau of Statistics has found that a smaller number of young adults between the ages of 18 and 34 were getting married in 2011 than in 1976. The 1976 Australian census showed that 67 percent of 24-year-olds were married at the time, compared with just 14 percent in 2011. The reasons for delaying marriage are similar to what we find here in the United States. Many want to experience more life before making a life-long commitment, choosing to pursue higher education and careers instead. Developing talents and setting educational, financial and professional goals—and achieving them—is very rewarding and certainly does enrich life. However, singleminded devotion to tangible goals will not fulfill the emotional desires of your heart. That’s why I’m sharing my advice for those who want to know when the “right time” to marry
Prepare for love. If you can’t see yourself married with children in the future, you will not take any steps in that direction. A balanced person is not always on call with their job. It is important to figure out why you need to feel validated through your occupation. Making your career your identity is a trap because that’s not the real you. The excuse that one is much too busy for anything other than casual dating is an excuse for avoiding emotional attachments. Every person makes time for what they want to make time for. No one is so busy at work that a committed relationship and a satisfying career cannot co-exist in their life. The right time to marry is when you are dating with the purpose of attracting the right longterm relationship: You take love seriously, not passively committing to whoever asks you out. You know what you want in love.
Be open to change. It can be very easy to be inflexible when life does not unfold how you thought it would. Short and longterm goals will lead you to the dreams in your heart; flexibility as to the order in which they arrive allows more doors of opportunity to open. If you meet Mr. Right tomorrow , but sabotage it because you “have” to be at work all the time and neglect nurturing that love, you will regret what could have been. Most people do not look back on their lives wishing they had worked harder and longer. Disappointment and sadness comes from knowing relationships could have been so much more if given half a chance to succeed. The right time to marry is when you are not so focused on completing a goal that you miss the love right in front of you.
Know your priorities. You will nurture what you value. If your significant other is at the bottom of your list, the relationship or marriage will not survive. The right time to marry is when you know the correct order of your priorities and make the effort to stick to your convictions.
Life is all about love and relationships. We need personal connections to lead a fulfilling life. So when is the right time to marry? When you have prepared for that option by setting marriage as an important goal in life and are open to love walking into your life at any moment. The best way to prepare for the right relationship is to live with a hopeful expectancy that love will happen at the perfect time while you are living a full life in the pursuit of the dreams and desires in your heart.