Do you want a ‘start-up’ marriage in your 20s or a ‘corporate merger’ marriage in your 30s or 40s?

Filed in Relationships by on April 7, 2014 4 Comments

Charles Murray dishes out some advice for young people. It includes looking at the difference between a “start-up”and a “merger” marriage, how to discern a soul-mate, and the importance of religious friends. (Full disclosure: I’m a priest who endeavours to be friendly…)

Murray also urges multiple viewings of the movie Groundhog Day, so he must be on to something. [See the trailer above but SPOILER ALERT!]

These are his thoughts about the possible advantages of ‘start-up’ marriages:

The age of marriage for college graduates has been increasing for decades, and this cultural shift has been a good thing. Many 22-year-olds are saved from bad marriages because they go into relationships at that age assuming that marriage is still out of the question.

But should you assume that marriage is still out of the question when you’re 25? Twenty-seven? I’m not suggesting that you decide ahead of time that you will get married in your 20s. You’ve got to wait until the right person comes along. I’m just pointing out that you shouldn’t exclude the possibility. If you wait until your 30s, your marriage is likely to be a merger. If you get married in your 20s, it is likely to be a startup.

Merger marriages are what you tend to see on the weddings pages of the Sunday New York Times: highly educated couples in their 30s, both people well on their way to success. Lots of things can be said in favor of merger marriages. The bride and groom may be more mature, less likely to outgrow each other or to feel impelled, 10 years into the marriage, to make up for their lost youth.

But let me put in a word for startup marriages, in which the success of the partners isn’t yet assured. The groom with his new architecture degree is still designing stairwells, and the bride is starting her third year of medical school. Their income doesn’t leave them impoverished, but they have to watch every penny.

What are the advantages of a startup marriage? For one thing, you will both have memories of your life together when it was all still up in the air. You’ll have fun remembering the years when you went from being scared newcomers to the point at which you realized you were going to make it.

Even more important, you and your spouse will have made your way together. Whatever happens, you will have shared the experience. And each of you will know that you wouldn’t have become the person you are without the other.

Many merger marriages are happy, but a certain kind of symbiosis, where two people become more than the sum of the individuals, is perhaps more common in startups.

What do you think? Is there a ‘best/ideal’ age to get married?

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Fr Jerome Santamaria

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Fr Jerome Santamaria is a priest of the Archdiocese of Melbourne, Australia.

Comments (4)

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  1. An interesting post. I disagree, I’m afraid, I met my husband in the first term of uni, we were a start up marriage. He left me last summer after 23 yrs together and one 17 yr old son to regain his lost youth. Met someone who made him feel 20 again, and that he had not loved me in years. I am left with a son, no marriage and a divorce and religious annulment to sort out, aged 42! I wish I had waited until my 30s and found out what life was really about. I certainly could not encourage my son to marry early, and having encountered all sorts of issues with the separated and divorced in the church ( I work in the Catholic Church) , would be wary of a church service for him. The sacrament of marriage is a gift from God, but as humans, errors will happen, people will grow and change and move on. I believe in marriage with all my heart, but younger is more troubling to me. God Bless you.

  2. Tonia says:

    I’ve tried both, as have most of my friends who married before 25. I’d say corporate marriages are easier, or maybe we all just worked very hard not to be divorced twice before we hit 40!

  3. Y says:

    Angela, sorry to hear about your sadness.

    I think that men or women can rat regardless to their age when marrying.

    I hope youhave friends supporting you. Prayers

  4. María says:

    Hello your article is interesting. Nevertheless it is better to get Married when You find the right person and You are ready. I would have love to Marry in my 20’s but I am glad I did not. I had bad relationships that I am sure would have Ended. I Had to work on myself and after lots of prayer I met my husband and Married at 30. You do not just get Married when You want. At least in my case I think God saved me from bad mariages in my 20s. And after 12 years of infertility problems I had my first born at 42 out of Gods will. We have two more adopted children. In my case I think things did not happen by cha ce and it is better to trust in Gods plans and providence and Lots of Pray.

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