Penelope Trunk’s blog, Brazen Careerist, gives a very interesting perspective on life. Her recent posts on happiness – the definition of it, the desire for it, and the overall pursuit of it – got me thinking about marriage, especially the “later in life” kind.
Trunk believes that people fall into two categories: those people who pursue a happy life and those people who pursue an interesting life.
I took her test in her latest blog post: Test: Is your life happy or interesting? I came out as someone who wanted to be interesting more than happy.
Her premise about happiness versus interesting made me ponder about why we get married. Do we get married because we believe it will make us happy? Or, do we commit to one person because we think it add to the “interesting-ness” of our lives?
I think women who marry later in life may be looking for a life that is more remarkable than content. And, their marital partners are committed to the same. Here’s why.
For most of us, we tend to fall into two categories around marriage: those who really want to just be married and those who want to be married to a specific type of person. Late bloomer brides (LBBs) tend to always fall in the latter category. This doesn’t mean those who got married earlier in life just settled for “whomever.” But, early marriages could be either category. LBBs definitely are in the second group and rarely in the first.
1. LBBs look for “the one.” Almost all the late bloomer brides I have come to know seem to have waited to marry someone they felt was “right.” They weren’t willing to “settle” for anyone who just popped the question or someone they could just live with. They weren’t looking for someone to make them happy or complete their life. They could do that on their own. Rather, they were holding out for someone they couldn’t live without – someone who interests them more days than not. Finding that person takes some time. Hence, the after 40 part.
2. LBBs have high standards. We explored, investigated, searched. In the meantime, we still had lots of time to ourselves. We had time to make career moves, travel, figure out favorite shoe stores, cities, breakfast foods — all by our lonesomes. We became more interesting as people because of it. Thus, the bar for a partner is raised. We want to be with people who have done things, too. We need someone who is very interesting to us.
3. LBBs will never be shackled again. When I was 10 years old, I distinctly remember having moments of absolute desperation to get somewhere – anywhere but there. I was held captive spent my childhood in a very small country town, with no money, and bound to do what all kids do – go to the same school building to sit, learn and listen for hours and hours and hours on end. I knew there was stuff going on Out There. And, I was being kept from it.
And, you know what? I was right.
There was a lot going on Out There. And, it was very, very interesting. The first week out of college felt like I had been let out of prison. And, I wasn’t going back. So, I was bound and determined not to be committed to another’s life until I was ready. I suspect many women who wait until after age 40 to get married have a similar tale to tell.
4. LBBs enjoy the journey as much as the destination. Our 20s and 30s are filled with exploring – again, career, travel, friends, experiences, hobbies, you name it. And, if a guy wanted to come along that was great. But, for the most part, we were more committed to the journey than committed to just settling down. It’s not that we aren’t goal oriented. It’s just that there is a lot of interesting scenery and pit-stops to take in. We don’t want to miss anything.
So, why would a woman who has high standards, be wary of being “shackled,” and who loves the voyage choose to get married? Because Husband was more interesting than all of that. And, he wants to do interesting things. Having an interesting life makes this LBB happy.
(Note to younger married peeps everywhere: if you got married early in life, this does not mean you are not an interesting person. For all I know, you met your soul mate in high school and still went on to all manners of interestingness that we all can only dream about.)