The current vibe around marriage and likely divorce has caused many people to stay single for a lot longer than they ever would have in the past. The upside of this is more personal development, more independence and an improved financial situation. The downside is getting used to making decisions alone, looking for potential partners and keeping a clear personal space.
Is this a problem? It can be.
You see, having kids is something that cannot wait and should not wait. The quality and quantity of eggs in women goes down over time, which makes having a baby more and more complicated. Women’s physical fitness and flexibility also goes down with age, making matters worse.
From a family planning point of view, having kids over 5 years provides fewer options than having them over 10 years. The age difference between kids is a very important factor in healthy emotional development, but if there is not time, you can only have them close together, which can be challenging.
Being single for a long time causes many people to continue living as two singles sharing a home, instead of a married couple. This gets messy very quickly. In extreme circumstances, the two singles keep things ready for separation, which only makes separation more likely.
After “hunting” for a partner for a long time, the habit of collecting and evaluating potential mates is harder to shake and having affairs does not seem like such a big deal. Why invest in making your marriage interesting if you can just “refresh” your life with someone else from time to time? Alas, the way back is hard and most couples cannot make it.
And there are other economical and social reasons, which is why marriage was invented in the first place.
From Single to Married
Let’s explore this massive transition from being single to being married (or at least committed) and talk about how to complete it quickly and best.
Being unattached to a partner and kids means a lot of freedom. There are few constraints on a single person’s time and lots of time for going out and having fun. Marriage means the end of this freedom.
Being single means controlling your money and assets and knowing exactly what goes on with your finances. Also, nearly all the money you spend as a single person is spent on you. In marriage, there are other people to consider. Not only do they need some of the money, but they also want to influence how money is spent.
Being uncommitted to a partner means that all potential partners are under consideration, but there may always be someone better, so it is best to keep your options open by not giving the relationship everything you have and by continuing to “hunt” for the best partner. Being married means the “hunt” is over and it is time to focus on a single partner (excuse the pun) and on building a steady relationship, which requires new skills.
Being unmarried usually means being surrounded by other unmarried people and forming a support group. Within this group, married-people jokes are acceptable and discussions revolve around “What do I have to lose by marriage?” not on “What do I have to gain by marriage?” Getting married often involves breaking from this circle of friends and losing their emotional support for the closeness of just one person (initially).
Living alone means being able to have strict control over your personal space – where you put things, where you write notes, how you arrange and decorate your home and even how much noise you make. Sharing a home with other singles leaves you much of this control, only on a smaller scale – you get to control only one side of the fridge instead of the whole fridge. When you get married, you jointly own things, share the responsibility for them and lose most of your personal space. Even your bed is shared.
How to transition from Single to Married best and quickest
This list is not only for singles. If you are married, use the list to work on your own feelings and improve your situation even further.
- Take a few minutes and make a list of all the great things marriage will give you – knowing you are loved, sharing your burdens and joys, having a framework for raising kids, etc.
- Commit – commitment is by far your strongest tool to keeping a healthy marriage. There are solutions to all the problems in marriage, but you can find them only if you are committed. Breaking up should not be an option. Ever!
- Develop your trust – being protective of your personal space is a defense mechanism. It is the result of fear of people. However, your partner in marriage is the closest person to you. The more you know about this person, the easier it is to trust him or her and then there is no fear and no need for protection. In fact, the two of you will be protecting your shared space from others you cannot trust.
- Join your finances – in my opinion, separate finances are the number one sign that your marriage relationship is incomplete. If you cannot tell how much money your partner has, suspicion will quickly set in. In many marriages, only one partner manages the joint finances anyway, but everyone knows major decisions are made together. In fact, in most marriages, one partner is better at managing money than the other, so everyone benefits. Leaving your accounts separate is like keeping your foot in the door on the way out. Join them right away!
- Feel the love – remember your partner is the person you love the most and who loves you the most in the whole wide world. He or she is such a special person in your life, this justifies many changes and allowances single people do not make – aligning schedules, waiting, looking like a mess in the morning and being honest about what you want and how you feel.
- You can keep your eyes open to other people, but close “that part” of your heart – Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are well known for being attractive, but they could never give you what your partner can. The comparisons and the chase prevent you from focusing on the relationship you already have. When I was young, I heard a great saying about this, “You can get your appetite anywhere, as long as you eat at home”.
- Support yourself – even before getting married, spend time with happily married couples, perhaps even with kids, and get inspired. During your marriage, choose friends who will help you sustain your commitment and focus. If you are lucky, your single friends will go through the transition with you, but if they do not, find other friends to support you, no matter how painful it may be. Remember that people always try to affirm their own choices and holding on to a friend who has made a different major choice can be a problem for both of you.
- Every morning, ask yourself “What can I do today to make my marriage happy and fulfilling?” If you are still single, this means you will be ready when the time comes. If you are married, this will make your marriage a whole lot more exciting.
Special note: when we use the term “marriage”, we mean any relationship based on a sincere, long-term and preferably official commitment.
This post is part of the series Save Your Marriage:
- Self-Regulation in Your Marriage
- How to Save Yourself from Divorce
- Marriage and Divorce Statistics
- The Marriage Institution
- Marriage is the Foundation of Families
- The Unpleasant Side of Divorce
- How to Get Things Wrong in a Marriage
- Marriage and Self Talk
- More About Self Talk
- Facts vs. Meaning in Marriage
- All Men Are… All Women Are…
- When Two Do Not Become One
- Marriage and Money
- Be Your Partner’s Best Friend
- Relationship Between Two Onions
- The Greatest Gift: Staying Married
- Marriage of Singles
- The "Right" Trap
- The Intention Trap
- Best Marriage Quotes
- 10 Rules for Civilized Dialogue
- 10 Tips for Re-Building Trust
- The King and His Servants
- The Nitpicker
- Expressing Feelings in a Marriage
- Don’t Be On Guard
- Don’t Clam Up
- Have Good Sex to Save Your Marriage
- Trust (or The Boy Who Cried Wolf)
- Emergency Relationship Coaching Essentials
- Save Your Marriage with Better Time Management
- Choice Theory Can Save Your Marriage