By Aaron Bernstein, Contributing Writer
Opportunity costs. This is an economic term that describes the cost of doing one thing over another. While it is sometimes monetary, it can also refer to time. As in, if I cut my grass today I cannot go and see a movie, because the cost of cutting the grass is time not spent at a movie).
In Luke 14:28, Jesus talks about the cost of following Him: “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?” Similar to this cost, marriage is a similar lifelong, God-honoring commitment.
Getting married later in life, 32 in my case, has had benefits and opportunity costs. Thankfully, the benefits have outweighed the costs.
Benefits to marrying later in life
Personally, I cannot have imagined getting married in my early to mid-20s. I was a totally different person then, both in terms of maturity and not knowing Christ. I did not get comfortable in my own skin until I was in my mid-20s. Brain research indicates that the human brain does not stop developing until our mid-20s.
While I cannot point to the day when it happened, I know that it was about that time when I stopped caring what other people thought about me and stopped looking to others to make me happy.
This was an important change. Up to that point, self-happiness was at the top of my list of priorities. Entering into a marriage during that time of my life would have probably set me on a course for divorce.
With maturity and age, I’ve grown in wisdom enough to know that the goal of marriage is not to make me happy – although it’s a benefit when it does.
Glorifying God with my helper-completer would not have been something I would have embraced years ago. To that end, waiting until I was older has been a benefit.
Another benefit to waiting was the time and freedom to pursue self-happiness. This is not to say that marriage is not fun. However, ask any married person to compare single fun with married fun and they will tell you that there is a very real difference in quality and quantity. Marriage does require taking the other person into account. Not so when one is single. I admit that I appreciate having the chance to be selfish when I was younger.
Costs to getting married later in life
The trade-off and opportunity cost is that I am now an older husband and father. I’m in my early 40s and have two children under the age of 6. Fifteen years ago I could have run all day with them. However, my knees and back remind me that I am no longer the young buck that I once was. At this point readers will either give me an “amen” or roll their eyes at my assertion of age. I am not in the grave yet, but I have lost a step or two from my younger days.
Age also ushers in inflexibility. You know, the Old Fogie is set in his ways. This is neither good nor bad. Had I been younger, my wife may have found herself with a totally different man from the younger me after a decade of marriage.
My wife should have had some idea of what she was getting herself into when she said ‘I do.’ It is my opinion that marriage works when each person can accept the quirks of the person he or she is planning to marry. I am odd. My wife is odd. We both have dysfunctional, odd families. And, by the way, if you are reading this, then you are odd too – and so is your family.
The bottom line, if asked to give advice, I would try to sound like Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:8-9. If you can wait to get married, then there is an advantage to being single longer. If you are burning with passion and waiting will cause you to sin, then get married. But know there are opportunity costs to both.