by Tammy Tillotson

Marry, Marry, Quite Contrary,
How do love gardens grow?
With wedding bells and shackled yells,
Am I ready to have baggage in tow?

In July 1997, Swing magazine polled 507 adults between the ages of 18-34, and 51% thought that the ideal age to marry was between 25-29, while only 16% thought the age should be higher.

An Ideal Age to Marry
Since experts now predict that half of all marriages will end in divorce, it is also worth noting that reports that people aged 25-39 make up approximately 60% of all divorces. It is certainly contrary that the perceived ideal age to marry also apparently encompasses the ideal age to divorce.

Confronting Ideals
The first step in considering marriage is to truly understand the concept of ideals and the role of ideals within marriage. Ideals are standards of perfection, or rather the idea that perfection is attainable. Marriage ideals and an ideal age to marry suggest that a person is capable of being regarded as perfection, or either conformed or reformed into perfection. Notions of these ideals exist solely within a person’s imagination. Marriage is not perfect, because people are not perfect. The practice of idealizing marriage and marriage partners certainly assures that even the most gallant knight will only eventually fall off his white horse. When the idealism of marriage actually confronts the realism of marriage, the backlash often results in irreconcilable differences. It is possible that this might also include irreconcilable ideals.

Ideals of Maturity
Other important considerations are the ideals that surround maturity. To some extent, the notion of marriage is thought to be a decision agreed upon by two mature adults. This concept of maturity assumes that people are capable of achieving a state where they are completely developed in their natural growth. This is not the case with human beings.

Physically, the human body continuously changes as it ages, yet it is simultaneously capable of learning and experiencing new things until the life cycle ends. Maturity is an on-going process for humans, which occurs in direct relation to existence and life experiences, and no two individuals can accurately have an identical level of maturity. For this reason, each person has some sort of individual perception as to when he or she has reached a point of maturity in which marriage is more likely to be a serious and viable contemplation, or in which marriage is not an option at all.

Ideals of Exclusiveness
Marriage is a unique form of propaganda, in which the prolific ideals express that this form of exclusive relationship is or should be a desirable pursuit of happiness. History, tradition, family, and human nature are just a few conglomerations that encourage, discourage, or influence the propagation of these ideals about marriage.

Again, these ideals mistakenly assume that perfect exclusiveness is attainable. Despite the prediction that 50% of all marriages will end in divorce, the remaining 50% would apparently include at least a small percentage of couples that have a relatively happy marriage. Regardless of the statistical odds, the perceived ideal is still hypothetically achievable or at least possible.

Ideals of Society
Historically, society’s view of marriage has been as the acceptable and preferred ideal in which a man and women cohabitate, express a loving and sexual relationship, and reproduce and raise offspring. The evolution of technology, information, and education might suggest why society is currently more acceptable of non-idealistic and nonconformist relationships than ever before.

The Age of Information continues to stretch boundaries of conformity, and in essence, creates new levels of both conformity and nonconformity, which are seen as more desirable that historical perspectives because of infinite new possibilities and opportunities. Very few issues are currently taboo when accessible information is considered. Marriage does not have to continue to be an overshadowed ideal for future generations.

Ideals of Love
An individual’s perceptions of these ideals about marriage, maturity, exclusiveness, and society, collectively help shape and influence ideals concerning love and potential marriage partners. Acknowledging that each person in the world has his or her own unique ideals and perceptions is the simple part. It is often a much more difficult task to truly understand one’s own ideals and perceptions, much less another person’s.

Considering that those same ideals and perceptions can be expected to change as both persons age, grow, learn, and experience, is a fact of life that is too often disregarded by the ideal that love can survive anything and everything.

In a loving relationship, love knows no boundaries only to the extent that the couple knows no conflict between each other’s ideals and perceptions. To an extent, there is a need for harmony within the basic ideals and perceptions of the relationship itself, as well as an inherent need to maintain that harmonious feeling. When conflict is experienced, it is still possible to consciously make efforts to maintain harmony if the differences can either be negotiated, ignored, or dealt with in some other fashion that is acceptable to both persons.

It is a logical assumption that individuals possess some ideals and perceptions that are unable to be altered. This can result as long as an individual is unwilling to consciously consider alternative reasoning, and it may also be a seemingly unconscious effort that an individual does not perceive having any control over. For that reason, people will never agree on all issues all of the time. It is also illogical to expect love to be able to survive anything and everything, especially when conflicting ideals and perceptions can be unalterable.

As ideals and perceptions are part of an ever-evolving process, it is impossible to foresee, predict, and prepare for all major conflicts within relationships. Major conflicts within ideals and perceptions can either build a more loving relationship, or destroy the misconstrued ideals and perceptions of what a loving relationship encompasses.

The concept of love is itself firmly rooted in ideals of fairness, reciprocity, generosity, intuition, and passionate affection.

The quite contrary garden of love grows uncultivated and overrun by these idealistic weeds. A diligent gardener finds truth in attempting to pull the weeds, while endeavoring to realize a dandelion as a beautiful flower.

Additional Resources

An excellent and interesting source for intriguing divorce statistics.

“Marrying Age – Vivian’s Bulletin Board.” An interesting forum that contains visitor comments about the ideal age to marry. Read the comments and then add your own.