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It’s become commonplace (for the first time in human history) for both women and men to spend their first decade or so of adulthood getting their adult-selves in order – finishing an education, pursuing a career, dating around, learning their relationships styles and needs, and generally solidifying into emotionally mature adults who are capable of choosing a partner and making a lasting relationship work.

The results of this shift away from the “get married at 22, get divorced at 35″ paradigm have been astounding – divorce rates show a significant drop for couples who marry after age 30, and those who marry later have higher incomes, greater marital satisfaction, and better overall health.

But are we in danger of waiting too long? Is there such a thing as a “magic age” by which anyone who wants to get married needs to get cracking on finding a spouse?

if you wait too long, you may be be so set in your ways that you won’t have room (emotionally or physically) to let someone else into your life. Which is an often-ignored point – but it’s hardly new. Plus it doesn’t offer much in the way of takeaway wisdom. If you’re 40 and never-married, does that automatically mean you’re too rigid and individualist to have a happy marriage? What if you’re incredibly picky at 28 – should you cast off your selective ways in case they keep you in singlehood at 35? (Answers to both: of course not.)

Now that society has relaxed its vice-grip on our relationship patterns and expectations, the onus is on us – to figure out what we want, and to figure out how to get it. You get to CHOOSE whether you want to be married – which in itself is a revelation.

If you do choose marriage, it may take something in order to achieve your goal. You may have to let go of your decade-old view that you’ll never date a Republican, or clean some of the crap out of your apartment to make room for someone else’s crap. Having what you want requires a willingness to examine the self and make any necessary tweaks in order to accomodate another human being. If those tweaks aren’t worth it, or if the self-examining is too much of a chore, then don’t get married just because you feel you should. Because while married people may be healthier/happier/wealthier than singles, divorcés are still the least healthy/happy/wealthy of the bunch.

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