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Men shouldn't get married before age 30...(135 Posts)
... said a friend to me this weekend as yet another young couple in her family break up just a few years after they were being wished well with confetti and pledging eternal love. Sweeping, wine-fuelled and very sexist statement I'll grant you, but led to a really interesting conversation about the perils of settling down too young and the relative emotional maturity of men vs women. Being on the wrong end of a 'starter marriage' in the past I tend to agree but there you have it vipers. A controversial statement to be shot down or propped up at your leisure.
Obviously it's impossible to generalise about an entire sex because people are individuals and behind any set of statistics, there's an entire social and economic context missing.
Funnily enough though, in my circle the marriages that seem the happiest are the ones where the couples met and married in their early/mid twenties but delayed kids till their late twenties or early thirties. In my completely unscientific assessment based only on conversations we've all had, this is attributed to the individuals having had enough 'single time' for other relationships, then enough time as a couple and forging ahead with careers/travelling the world before making the lifestyle shift required to become parents. This was the 80s/90s though, when DH, me and most of our contemporaries went to uni at 18, lived alone or in flat shares afterwards and found it relatively easy to buy first houses on a 100% mortgage.
But one of the biggest factors seems to have been the initial chemistry between the couples, which has seen them through the trials and tribulations of family life and getting older. Whereas we've all known a lot of divorces or unhappy marriages in couples who left it later to marry and then had children soon after meeting or marrying. As a shorthand, these are best described as the 'settlers' whose clocks were ticking and after lots of unsuccessful relationships, decided to settle down with 'steady types' who would make good parents, if not lifelong lovers.
Because the social and economic context is so different now for our own kids than it was when we married in our twenties, DH and I have got an expectation that if they decide on marriage, they'll probably be older than we were, but might be about the same age as we were when we started having children. But they are all so different in terms of personality and maturity levels, who knows?
My dps nan actually said something similar to me the other day. I do disagree, my dp and I are both 23, have a 7mo dd and are getting married next year. So many people asked us "don't you think you will be missing out on your 20's getting married/ having children/ moving in together, so young?"
but I always thought, we have both lived on our own since we were 18/19, worked for own money since 16 and definitely had enough fun. We were both ready to settle down together and have known each other 20 years, best friends for 10. I know I don't have hindsight on my side and maybe i'm niave, but I think we will be alright. We both have done what we wanted to do with that stage of our lives and have changed so much since we met but we have always been together for everything. Surely its more subjective than just "at 30+ you will be ok to settle down"?
Well maybe we disprove the rule.
We met at 19/20, married at 24. 18+ years ago. Had dc at 29, 31, 32.
It works for some people - it's working well for us!
It could also be argued that it is harder to let someone else into your life and get used to the compromises of living together the older you are and the more time you have spend just having to be accountable to yourself
Have to disagree: I am 31, dh is 30, been together 13 years and married 8, have a 6 year old and 3 year old. Dh has a fab job, I have degree and good job.
Both working class, came from no money at all. Bought out first house together after renting for a year my second year out of uni, saved and paid for our own wedding. Had first DC a year after. I look at my single friends now and am very glad I am not having to panic as they are and settle for someone who may not be right for me, just because my clock is ticking. Dh and I grew up together, wanted the same things, and achieved them together. I hope for the same for my dc, that they are lucky enough to find the right person young.
I think this does a disservice to men. My DH is far more mature than I am, set up his own business and bought his first house aged 21 when I was busy getting pissed up in uni and was thrilled by our first (accidental) pregnancy while was terrified. He was happy to support our family and couldn't wait to get married soon after and have another child. We are very, very happy and he is my rock - not all men are idiots although I can understand feeling a bit bitter if you married one. My own mother would probably agree with this statement - she married the wrong man the first time around too.
I also think the sweeping generalization does a disservice to men. Almost all the men I know are solid dependable types.
I met DH when we were 19 and married at 25. We are still together 30 years later. My parents met and married in early 20s and are still together. Ditto PIL.
It all depends on the type of men you meet/like. Immature types might be fun and exciting but clever hard working mature men are the ones I would want my DDs marrying.
It will be unpopular to say this to anyone who is still pretty young and has had a family with a man they've been with since their teens, but the simple fact is that one or other of a couple is far more likely to get itchy feet and start feeling they've missed out on their 'sowing wild oats' years, if they have only had one long term relationship from a pretty young age. I think either the man or the woman can feel this way, but the truth is that the man is more likely to act on it, because he:
a) often gets more opportunity to be outside the home and away from the day to day care of the children
b) will often (rightly or wrongly) feel a bit aggrieved at being 'replaced' in her affections/attention by the children and will bemoan a lack of sex, whereas women are so preoccupied with the physical and emotional demands of childcare that sex becomes temporarily very much secondary.
c) is a man, and whatever feminists say about men and women being essentially the same, and everything else being a social construct, generally speaking, as a man he is not genetically/hormonally programmed to mature, or to take to monogamy as easily, or as young as most women.
You only have to look at the animal kingdom to see that the less evolved/civilised a society is, (or for humans let's say 'industrialised and developed) as it sounds less contentious) the more misogynistically it is set up. The males quite literally leave the woman 'holding the baby' and having no qualms about serving their own interests above everything else. In some parts of the developing world, routinely impregnating a woman (or several women) and then feeling no responsibility towards them whatsoever is so commmonplace as to have none of the societal pressure or guilt attached.
Of course anyone of any age can have an affair, or just bail on the responsibility of marriage and children, but there is no getting away from the fact that it is more likely to happen if a man has felt 'tied down' too young.
I know someone will come along to argue with paragraph four but I don't care.
I think it depends on the situation, DH and I.have been together since we were at uni, 13 years, s, marriefor 8 years (at 26) and have 3 DC
Oops, younger DC made me post too early! I meant to say, we had both left home and been independent from 18, had no debts, good jobs and our own home and had both done a bit of travelling. He was probably more ready than me to settle at 25 if anything but it is different now with more people having debts and tryiong to get on the property dder.
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