When emerging adults in committed relationships are polled about why they haven’t yet married, a common theme is ‘the need to find themselves’. They don’t feel ready to give themselves totally in a marriage relationship because they are uncertain about their self-identity.
Their comments reflect an important social belief: People should be formed in their identity before they commit to marriage. Behind this belief is an assumption that marriage somehow suspends personal development or derails it. For certain, marriage will influence the formation of one’s identity. In fact, all significant relationships and experiences will contribute to some degree to the final result.
Psychologists suggest that the formation of identity consolidates by the age of thirty. After this time, it is essentially permanent. While some might see this a reason in favour of delayed marriage, the opposite is actually the case.
Couples who marry in their early to mid twenties will tend to form their identity as a husband or wife. If they have children sooner rather than later, this will consolidate their identities as father and mother.
This gives them an advantage in the marriage satisfaction sweeps: forming an intimate and committed bond will be working with their self-identity rather than in opposition to it. It is difficult enough for long time singles to surrender their cherished freedoms and independence; it’s even harder when they feel they like their marriage is asking them to change their self-identity.