Personally, I think the best time to get married is when you’ve met another human being of good character and seen them in action in multiple situations where respect, caring, commitment, humility, fairness, patience, or playfulness are called for, and you really like what you have seen.
That usually takes a year or more. Occasionally, in very trying times, it can happen more quickly.
Love often develops a lot sooner.
But marriage is not so much about love as about your role in the world. If you were two businesses, it’s a merger, not a joint venture intended to dissolve when opportunities or circumstances change or to change you.
Seth Godin writes that new businesses (even artists) need to get through The Dip to become lasting entities. The Dip is always a very challenging time, one that calls on all your resources and wisdom. Part of that wisdom is knowing when there is no getting through the Dip and you should turn back, but much of your competition will turn back just to avoid the challenges.
Once you emerge on the other side, you then have an enormous advantage over any new competitor. The Dip awaits them, too.
Marriages go through The Dip, too. Some won’t get through, because one spouse has an addiction or other mental illness they refuse to treat that’s keeping both of them in the gully or because one married to avoid hard effort, not to have a partner for it.
In The Dip, they might be confronted by cancer, autoimmune disease, huge financial loss, the industry they trained for just vanishing, incarceration (whether innocent or guilty), the death of a parent or a child, a wild fire destroying their first home, or any other challenge suggested by those words “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health.”
When a couple makes it through The Dip, they have an enormous advantage over new couples and most individuals. Society has traditionally rewarded them for this, because all of us benefit from such strong and long-lasting marriages.
I like to think of my work as getting you through The Dip, whenever you marry.