When a singleton talks to a married person about their choice of spouse inevitably the phrase “you just know” seems to come up without fail. “I just know what?” My single friend voiced aloud in such a recent conversation. And the married person she was talking to gave that vague shrug, “You just do.”
Though I have never met “the one” for me, I’m fairly sure the un-quantifiable “you just know” pretty much sums up the feeling that these two married people wanted to be together. Because recently I realized that my friends and I had made the mistake of talking to people who got married in their early 20’s while we’re all around the 30-year-old mark and older.
Sure, a 20-year-old is just going to act on emotion and how they “feel.” 20-year-olds don’t generally need to consider a lot when it comes to choosing a spouse. They are just starting out and so there’s a lot of opportunity to grow lives and careers together. A 20-year-old is pretty much a blank slate.
When you hit the 30-ish mark and beyond, however, things get more complicated. There are adult lives and careers to contend with. Roots, homes… sometimes pets, children, or elderly parents to care for. With maturity has come responsibility and often a sense that we should be considering a prospective mate a little more carefully. Admittedly, sometimes too carefully.
So, I decided to do a little research. I reached out to three couples I know who got married past the 30-year-old point. (One of which got married after age 50.) These are mature couples who were a little more mature when they decided to get married. I had hoped they would also be able to articulate the sense that the should get married. I wasn’t disappointed. Finally something more concrete!
The funny thing is that all six said something along the lines of “we have similar faith, values and goals in life” and “he/she is my best friend.” One couple told me that they had so many of the same goals in life that it seemed silly not to get married. Another said they met in church ministry and that they worked so well together that dating (and marriage) seemed like a “no-brainer.” The last couple supported each other through some hard life events and only then realized what a great team they made.
All three couples liked seeing how their prospective spouse interacted with parents, nieces, nephews and friends. Kindness to elders was an overwhelming consensus. (I guess that adage: “Watch how a guy treats his mother” rings true.) I related to these mature adults when it came to the importance of family. When you’re 20-something, you’re pretty much willing to go rogue in order to marry whom you want. But all the 30-somethings felt that it was important for the new spouse to get along with immediate family. (Within reason: one had a “crazy” sister whom they didn’t expect anyone to get along with.) For the 50-somethings, they were already great friends with the in-laws. Job stability and work ethic were also big factors.
I loved that these folks didn’t cite some vague feeling or angels singing when the other person walked into the room. But they did take the time to get to know each other: What the other person wanted in life. What they felt was important. And all this took place in real life situations and not the control group of a 20-something’s Saturday night dating series. In doing so they realized that they were best friends.
It sure trumps “you just know.”