Sunday, March 3, 2024

Are There ‘Relationship Rules’? Have You Already Broken Them?!?

Are there really such things as ‘relationship rules’? Should you really wait 12 months before moving in with someone? How long should you know them before you marry them?!? We find out what ‘the rules’ are and if you really oughta stick to them!

Welcome to our series, The Love Diaries – a space for you to share your experiences, advice, fairy-tale endings, setbacks and heartbreaks. We’ll be hearing from industry experts giving practical advice alongside Capsule readers (You!) sharing your firsthand experiences with love – from the woman who cheated on her husband with a work colleague, one woman’s temptation now the love of her life is finally single (although she’s not), and the woman who forced her husband to choose between her and his girlfriend. 

A few weeks back we brought you the Love Diary story: Is There A “Perfect” Age to Marry to Avoid Divorce? (which, if you haven’t already read through, it’s worth a look!). But besides finding out if such an age does exist, there was another piece of advice from a relationship therapist we spoke to that really got you talking.

For a recap, relationship therapist Serafin Upton said she didn’t believe the age you marry has any real impact on the success, or failure of your marriage. BUT she did share four pieces of advice that she often gives her clients about relationships.

We’ve begun calling these ‘the relationship rules’. They are:

  1. “If you met your partner really young [say when you were a teenager or in your early twenties], wait until you’re at least 32 years old until you marry them – this is because we do our biggest period of growth in our 20s.  We change so much, more than at any other time in our lives. If you want to ensure your partner is definitely the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, wait until you get past 30 – we have huge epiphanies at 30.”  
  1. “Don’t move in with someone until you’ve been with them for at least one year.”
  1. “Wait at least two years of being with someone before marrying them.”    
  1. “Go to therapy before having kids!!! Kids change a relationship forever.”

In response, a reader, Bec, said: “OKAY. WHERE was this advice when I needed it? I moved in with my ‘perfect’ boyfriend after four months, got married within 18 months and divorced when my daughter was 18 months.”

“This is 100% correct,” agreed Michaela. “I should never have married my first husband. We were only 26 and I knew nothing but thought I knew everything. You change so much in your twenties!”

“TBH, I think these are too conservative!” said another reader, Bella. “I’ve been with my boyfriend for three years. We’re both 34. I know we’ll get married one day, but I want to have been together for five years before we think about getting married. We both come from broken marriages though, so maybe that’s why?”

Others had completely different views. “Nope,” said Nicky. “Happily married here, with two teenage children. Met at 20, moved in within six weeks, married six months later while I was pregnant with my first boy. Wouldn’t change a thing.”

“Met my husband at 35, married four months later, kids one year later,” added Casey. “Celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary later this year!”

On the whole, most readers seemed to agree that it’s best to wait a while before you marry someone, with 48% of Capsule readers polled saying that they believe couples should wait at least two-three years before tying the knot.

A further 21% thought it was best to wait more than three years. Eighteen per cent said, ‘at least a year’, while 12% said, ‘why wait at all?’

When it came to moving in together, readers were less concerned about waiting. A third of readers (34%) thought couples should wait at least six months, 31% said a year and just 5% said more than two years. Twenty-nine per cent of readers didn’t believe in sticking to any timeline or ‘rule’, saying why wait at all?

But most readers had a caveat: age plays a strong role.

“I think that therapist’s opinion is right if you’re under 32 you should wait until then – if that means 10 years, that’s right,” said Melissa. “The two year rule only applies for those over 32.”

“These timeframes all depend on how old you are,” said Claudia. “If you’re 22, WAIT at least five years before moving in. If you’re in your forties and you know what you want, go for it! Don’t bother waiting!”

And, if we look at real-life examples of this, it’s solid advice.

Pamela Anderson got married to Tommy Lee (yikes) just four days after meeting him, when she was 28 years old. The couple did go on to have two children, but ultimately their marriage was over within three years.

Meanwhile, Amal Clooney (née Alamuddin) was 35 when she married George Clooney (who was 53 at the time) after dating him for less than a year. The pair went on their first date in October 2013 and were engaged six months later, eventually tying the knot in September 2014. They’re now coming up on a decade together, with five-year-old twins.

Back home we have our own example of a whirlwind romance later in life leading to a long-lasting marriage. Breakfast presenter Jenny-May Clarkson had a ‘love at first sight’ moment when she laid eyes on her now-husband Dean. The pair were engaged 10 days after meeting and were married within seven months. Jenny-May was just shy of being three-months pregnant with twin boys at the time.

As Jenny-May told Capsule, it was the age that they met at that made all the difference.

“Dean was 39, I was 41,” she said. “We’d lived some life! That first night we [met, we] had all those upfront conversations, like, ‘do you want more kids?’ All those questions you usually wait a while before asking in a new relationship. Well, I figured, I’m too old for that! At 41, if you don’t want kids mate, that’s cool, but I’m moving on! I think it was less about chance, and more that we were meant to be, we just had an individual journey to travel to get to this point together.”

Maybe age isn’t just a number?

Do you have your own experiences with the ‘relationship rules’? Are there other rules you think couples should adhere to? Tell us at [email protected]!

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