Real Family Talk - When Is the Right Time?

Willie and Elaine Oliver
Real Family Talk - When Is the Right Time?
couple walking on the beach with fog

I am 22, in my final year of university. I recently met a 20-year-old young woman who is two years behind me, pursuing a degree in the same program I’m in. We’ve spent quite a bit of time together during the past few months, and I think she could be “the one.” Is there an age that is best for getting married? If so, what is it? 

Congratulations on finding someone you think could be “the one.” Marriage was the first institution established by God at Creation, and it is certainly His ideal for the human race. So we believe you’re on the right track.

Regarding the ideal age to get married, while age alone may not be an indicator of readiness for marriage, age is one of the strongest predictors of marital breakups.[1] Truth is, the more fully developed one’s center of judgments is, the easier it will be to navigate the rigors of marriage.

More important than age right now, however, is getting to know well the young woman to whom you refer. For starters, you are getting ready to graduate, and she has at least two more years to complete school after you do. We hope you value her future enough to allow her to finish her university degree. We know too many couples who were so in love when they met, that the woman was not allowed to complete her schooling before marriage, adversely affecting her future. If this woman is “the one,” it will not hurt you to wait until she finishes her degree.

Ground your future marriage on realities that will help your relationship stand the test of time.

Other important aspects couples need to give careful attention to when deciding to marry are issues such as family of origin, religious affiliation, and spiritual commitment/maturity, premarital education, income, occupation, culture, race, and time, to name a few of the most important variables.

When people meet and fall in love, they experience an emotional high. Actually, it is literally a chemical high. Feelings of attraction are manifested when hormones called neurotransmitters—adrenaline, dopamine, and serotonin—naturally produced by the body, are dumped into the limbic system of the brain making a person feel euphoric. Of course, after every high, there is a natural low. So give yourself enough time to get to know each other. In your case, two years may be a good idea.

Getting to know the family of the person you are pursuing is extremely important, including feeling comfortable and supported by those relationships. This goes along with similarities in culture and race, which, while not issues of right or wrong, can make or break your marriage. And because faith looms large in the life of believers, marrying someone who shares your worldview, including your spiritual beliefs and practices, will make it easier to manage the differences you will inevitably have.

Income and occupation are essential to the well-being of every family. Despite the fact that love songs may offer all you need is love, a life grounded in reality suggests that every stable marriage needs sustainable means of providing food, shelter, clothing, transportation, and many other commodities needed to make a marriage healthy and strong.

So congratulations on finding someone who brings out these feelings in you. Still, give careful attention to what we have shared. These considerations will ground your future marriage on realities that will help your relationship stand the test of time.

Last, but not least, keep God at the center of your plans, and remember: “Love is patient, love is kind” (1 Cor. 13:4).

Willie Oliver, PhD, CFLE, an ordained minister, pastoral counselor, and family sociologist, is director for the Department of Family Ministries at the world headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Elaine Oliver, MA, LGPC, CFLE, an educator and counseling psychologist is associate director for the Department of Family Ministries. You many communicate with them at or

[1] Thomas B. Holman, Premarital prediction of marital quality or breakup: research,tTheory, and practice. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, 2001.

Willie and Elaine Oliver