Why a startup marriage is more satisfying than a merger marriage, from sociologist Charles Murray:
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.
I think there's an unfortunate tendency these days to overprepare -- people don't want to start something new until they're absolutely, positively sure they're ready for every contingency and have every tiny detail nailed down. But we can never truly be ready, no matter how much we prepare. There are always cirmcumstances we didn't foresee, reactions we didn't know we'd have. At some point, we just have to jump in with the knowledge that we're going to be winging it as we learn our way.
While we're on the subject of things people make too much of -- I'm getting pretty tired of all the nonsense being thrown around about "closure." There's no such thing in this life, OK? When you die, that's when you have closure. Until then, it's just one loose end after another. Get over it.