Marriage, at 24?
The number of twenty-somethings who shrink in horror at the thought is quite something!
“It’ll be the end of your freedom.”
“You cannot take any risks after that!”
“You have to become responsible and cannot do whatever you want.”
“The best time to try entrepreneurship is before marriage and kids.”
True, your life and decisions are no longer yours alone. You indeed have to sell your ideas and dreams to someone, get a buy-in and move ahead on a path of consensus. But given that we live in a pretty socially connected country, work with other people, and our work is both created by and consumed by many other people, many parts of that statement are already true, aren’t they?
If you look at marriage in terms of chains around your feet, sure, the fear is justifiable. But it doesn’t have to be so – and for many, isn’t.
It can actually liberate you, especially for entrepreneurship! How?
At 25, you got your whole life ahead of you (ok, let’s not get mathematical about this). You’re probably not caught up in finances, work and a hundred other things that you must attend to whether you want to or not. You have time to work on the relationship, and the more you share the journey with your partner, the more involved and connected you will be. And that’ll stand you in good stead when the going gets tough – a well built relationship that’s been given enough time and attention is a terrific foundation to build your plans around – for life, for your dreams and even for your career.
As for “later is tougher” – it’s now a well established fact that entrepreneurship is not necessarily tougher later in life – many founders are in the mid-to-late 30s, and some even older! If anything, the added experience, wide networks, financial cushion help and these folks are out to do something despite a cushy job, and pretty committed.
Most relationships are pretty equal these days – even financially. Imagine having a steady income in the household, on top of a spouse who understands your reasons for and need to chase a dream. There’s your seed funding!
And the discipline of having to understand and manage your personal finances, prioritize spends, be sensible about numbers, etc, is something you need to pick up early anyhow.
My parents are in their early 60s now. And they have already had over a decade of “no responsibilities”. They have travelled more than ever before, lived a pretty full life and chased all that they couldn’t afford earlier in terms of either time or money.
It’s similar for us, despite our generation having seen better affordability. A lot many friends’ kids are relatively more independent when we’re into our late 30s, and you have bandwidth to chase whatever it is you want to chase once more!
There’s little that liberates like having taken care of the basics of life, and still having time, energy and some money left on your side to experiment with!
This is a tough one to explain, but a good strong relationship provides a solid ballast for those times when you’re down in the dumps, or confused. A good partner is oftentimes a good sounding board, and sometimes even a personal mentor and coach. Few can understand your motivations, drive and problems better.
The nature of the relationship, it’s honesty and the level of communication within the marriage decide which way a lot of the above factors go. Giving yourself a head start and creating a great one isn’t a bad call at all!
There’s nothing inherently about marriage itself that is limiting, or ties you down. Those constraints and chains are in your head. If you’re passionate enough about something, you’ll chase it irrespective of your marital state (or even your financial one!) If at all, it can be a great supporting pillar of your ambition – be it a need to scale a peak, or chase an entrepreneurial dream.
And remember, when the dust settles, when you’ve either shut shop, or made your pile of cash in an exit, or gotten done with that world tour, or whatever – as you start to grow old and look back at your memories, it’s the relationship and the companionship that’ll still be around to share those memories with over a cup of coffee.
Perhaps you should open your mind and reconsider those getting-married-early-fears 🙂
[ Disclaimer : This one’s certainly a biased one since I got married at 23, had kids by 27, and started my entrepreneurial journey at 31! ]