Nearly all of my high school buddies got married within a year of graduating college to girls that they had met and dated during their college years. It seemed so easy, nothing like the trials and tribulations that plague today’s singles. Where most singles in their late 20’s and older have dated scores if not hundreds of people, my buddies and many other singles lucky enough to meet their spouses in their early 20’s only dated a handful of potentials. Why does finding a spouse become so much more difficult the older you get?
I recently read an article by Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, a senior rabbinic leader in the Israeli Modern Orthodox community, where he suggests that the older we get, the more aware we become of the potential difficulties and challenges in life. We begin to tread carefully, wary of the consequences of making a mistake. We experience bad relationships, get hurt, and vow not to make the same mistake again. We think and rethink every decision a dozen times before acting, and pass on many we deem too risky. This natural progression to risk aversion is for the most part a good thing, except for one area: marriage.
Getting married is a risk. You can minimize the risk by learning about the person, which is what the dating process is for but, after all is said and done, an element of risk remains. It’s never a sure thing. Entering into the holy bond of matrimony is a leap of faith. Ask any married person.
According to Rabbi Melamed, the younger you are the less aware you are about the potential dangers of choosing wrong and the more willing you are to take risks. Since you haven’t experienced bad relationships, you aren’t weighed down by the baggage that makes decisions so difficult for “veteran” singles. Your unrealistic expectations, preconceived notions, and fantasy images haven’t had the chance to develop and gain control over you. When you meet someone you find attractive, enjoy being with, and share the same life goals with, you can “take the plunge” free from debilitating baggage and obstacles. You can fall in love without needing the security of a net. A couple of extra pounds, a crooked tooth, or a bad hairdo won’t effect your decision.
So now what? What do you do if you didn’t get married in your early 20’s? As long as you’re aware of your “baggage” and challenges you can decide to overcome them. You can choose to overlook what you consider to be flaws in a potential partner and focus on the qualities important for a successful marriage. The problem is when you aren’t aware of your challenges and still think of yourself as a 20 year old, expecting to easily fall in love with your ideal sweetheart. That would be great if you really were a baggage free 20 year old. Unfortunately, you’re a baggage laden thirty something. The person you just rejected could very well have been that sweetheart in your early 20’s, but now that you’re 10 years older and “wiser”, you’re much too savvy to “fall” for someone like that. You’re a veteran now, not some wet behind the ears starry eyed 20 yr. old. Too bad for you.
The partner you meet in your 30’s and beyond will probably have been in serious relationships. They might have gone through a broken engagement or even been married and divorced (with kids). They’ve experienced frustration and heartache, and are wary of being hurt again. They have baggage. So do you. You must adjust to this new reality and deal with it.
I wonder if my high school buddies would have ended up marrying their spouses had they met them in their 30’s? We’ll never really know, but it doesn’t matter because they made the right decisions when they had the chance. Now it’s your turn. You aren’t 20 anymore. It’s time to stop thinking like you are. Don’t let your experience and “savvyness” prevent you from falling in love.
If you need help accepting this reality, please set up a meeting with me to discuss.
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