According to Us Weekly, the new couple started sharing the news with friends at Robert Pattinson’s birthday party over the weekend. One source claims the duo are “a perfect fit.” But is it too soon for Grande and Davidson to decide if they’re compatible enough for marriage?
The pair, both age 24, are anomalies for their youth and their quick decision to commit. Millennials are already delaying marriage and dating longer. The age of a first marriage is higher than ever, with women marrying at 27.4 years old on average and men marrying around 29.5. According to U.S. Census data, eight out of 10 people were married by age 30 back in the 1970s. Today, eight out of 10 people are married by age 45.
A recent New York Times report on millennial marriage cites eHarmony data, showing those aged 25 to 34 wait six and a half years to tie the knot, versus just five years for all other age demographics. Waiting longer is often wise if you’re using the time to collect information about your partner, says Karla Ivankovich, PhD, a clinical counselor at OnePatient Global Health.
She suggests holding off on the wedding until you’re well past the honeymoon period. “My advice is to wait two years,” Ivankovich says. “During the first year, you’re putting your best foot forward, and you often don’t see a person’s true personality until the second year. People can put up a facade for a long time.”
Early in the relationship, Ivankovich says your significant other might still be trying to win you over — and you them, whether consciously or subconsciously. “You’ll see the good traits,” she explains. “But you’ll never see if they’re quick to anger, if they hold grudges, or the small habits you can’t stand.” If you marry too quick and they’ve “got you locked down,” sometimes the bad behaviors and incompatible characteristics arise.
Ivankovich says many “emotionally intelligent millennials” are taking precautionary steps to ensure that doesn’t happen, though. Young adults want to solidify a strong commitment before officially coming off the market; Ivankovich is even seeing more young people join premarital counseling. After seeing friends struggle, or parents divorce, they want to make sure they’re compatible and have a plan to thrive as a couple.
How do you determine compatibility? By paying attention to a partner’s negatives, not just the positives, during those first couple of years (or more). Ivankovich says there are three issues that destroy a marriage: kids, finances, and sex. “During that time before marriage, you need to discuss children — and not just if you want them, but how many and how you want to parent,” she explains. “For finances, it’s important to discuss who will pay the bills today and moving forward. If there’s a pregnancy, will you both continue to work?”
Having similar sex drives and preferences is also a huge plus, she says, as well as making sure you’re both content with the idea of commitment to each other. “I like to use the ‘miracle question,’” says Ivankovich. “Before you settle down, marry and have a family, ask each other, ‘If tomorrow we were going to have kids, what are the things you would want to have experienced?’” Maybe that’s travel, living abroad, a dream job, or certain financial goals.
You also want to see if you both can resolve disagreements as a unit. “In the second year or more of being together, you’re seeing if you can live with each other,” says Ivankovich, explaining that much of this revolves around settling conflicts. “First, have a pact to talk to each other first, and do not vent to families; you don’t want them to harbor negative feelings after you sort your disagreement out.”
Next, you should be continuously gauging how your partner reacts to problems, she explains. “Do they get frustrated, never talk about it, and then explode?” Ivankovich says. “Do they hold grudges or pout? Do they leave or engage in reckless behavior?” None of these are ideal, and require tough conversations about whether your conflict-resolution styles are compatible. If you haven’t had a true fight, don’t commit, says Ivankovich.
It’s also wise to see if you can travel together or live together before you wed. Despite mixed research, Ivankovich thinks cohabiting allows you to see your partner’s little quirks, all of which can add up to be deal breakers or makers. “It’s better to try the shoe on and see if it fits before you buy it,” says Ivankovich.
And you can always tilt the odds in your favor even more by communicating expectations. Research indicates that couples who make active decisions to take the next step in their relationship, like cohabiting, fare better than those who simply “slide” into it. Talking about living together and deciding to do it appears to be more successful than slowly moving stuff over to your partner’s place.
All in all, premarital time together is an important step in determining compatibility. Thankfully, sources say Grande and Davidson are “not rushing” and prepared for a “long engagement,” which certainly increases their chances of long-term success. But no matter how much time you have before the wedding, the most important thing is that you use those days, weeks, and months to fully understand your partner — and cement your commitment.
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