From Work to Love

We’ve talked a lot about the work lessons from The Defining Decade, but is that all? Is work all we need to concentrate on in our twenties?

“[Society] is structured to distract people from the decisions that have a huge impact on happiness in order to focus attention on decisions that have a marginal impact on happiness. The most important decision any of us make is who we marry. Yet there are no courses on how to choose a spouse.” ~David Brooks, political and cultural commentator

I’d like to know why there are no classes. That seems like a pretty good idea to me.

I love how Dr. Meg Jay opens her section on love with this quote. It really opens your mind to the subject.

Why isn’t marriage a subject talked about? And when it is, why is it frowned upon? We talk about wants in our career and plan for our careers, why aren’t we doing the same for marriage? Is it one of the most important, if not the most important decision of our life.

“With one decision you choose your partner in all adult things. Money, work, lifestyle, family, health, leisure, retirement, and even death become a three-legged race.”

Wow, that’s eye opening and intimidating. Once you say, “I do” you are tied to this person. There’s no wonder why people have so many doubts as they head towards the aisle.

The worst part is if you chose wrongly, you can’t get rid of that person.You can’t give your two weeks and walk away hands free. Sure you can get a divorce, but in some way you are still bound to that person, most likely financially. Then if you have children together, think about the hassle you will have to go through to schedule “drop offs” after the hassle of filing a divorce in the first place. Then of course there’s the most important part, how it will affect your poor children.

Now enough with the melodrama let’s get down to the facts and see what we can do to choose correctly.

“Today’s twentysomething spend more time single than any generation in history… Currently, the average age for first marriage is twenty-six for women and twenty-eight for men, with more than half adults marrying over the age of twenty-five.”

Well that doesn’t sound too bad. Twentysomethings are taking their time picking their spouse. There’s bound to be fewer mistakes made, thus less failed marriages.


“…the divorce rate holds steady at 40 percent.”

The divorce rate has not changed because we’re taking our time. We can’t avoid divorce by delaying marriage.

Dr. Jay shares how her first psychotherapy client was a twenty-six year old  female who was dating down, named Alex. Dr. Jay was also in her twenties at the time ans saw no problem with this. When her supervisor encouraged Dr. Jay to work on this problem with Alex the classic “It’s not like she’s marrying the guy” response came out of her mouth. Her supervisor responded with…

“Not yet. But she might marry the next one. Regardless, the best time to work on Alex’s marriage is before she has one.”

I urge you to start thinking about your marriage before you have one. I will be covering Dr. Jay’s lessons on how to pick your family, living together, dating down and what “being in like” should really mean. I hope you follow these posts and take a serious look at your present and future.

Do you want to grow together with your spouse during your twenties or worry about marriage after the “age thirty deadline”?

How To Build Your Future

In my last post we talked about the harms of searching for glory and the tyranny of should. We need to remember that we could fall into a search for glory at any time in any part of our life.

In The Defining Decade, Dr. Meg Jay speaks of a young women, Talia, who first started having sessions with her because of her search for glory. Talia soon found a good job as a marketing analyst. Even though it was not the most glorious or easiest job she felt accomplished.

One day she came into Dr. Meg Jay’s office talking in “shoulds” and “supposed to’s” …again. This time she was talking about traveling and finding herself. When Dr. Meg Jay reminded Talia to think in reality, not ideals Talia admitted all she wanted was to move back home. She knew she wanted to go home but all her new friends were saying she was silly for wanting to settle down so soon. They could not understand why she wanted to give up the life she created for herself in this new city.

Sometimes we have to listen to ourselves even if everyone else disagrees. Twentysomethings who take these defining years seriously will have to be courageous to act against the norm. People may not understand why you want to get so serious about a job or having a family so soon, but this might be what you want.

“Adult life is built of… person, place and thing: who we are with, where we live, and what we do for a living. We start our lives with whichever of these we know something about.”

Talia decided to move back home. She wanted to be near her family. She wanted to meet someone to start a family with near her home town so when the day came her children could grow up seeing their grandparents regularly.

Whatever your want in your career or personal life, listen to your unthought knowns then act upon it. Listen then do it. Make that your motto. Only you can take care of you and only you have to live with the results.

Reach your potential in your personal life by building the life you want.  If you know the place you want to live, live there. Collect experience and capital around there. If you know what you want to do, go where you need to go to gain experience towards that position. If you are lucky enough to have found your special someone, work together to find what work for you both. Find a way where your place and thing can work together. Maybe you’re like Talia and your person is your family. Whatever it might be you can see how just knowing one thing can start the process of building your life.

*All quotes from this post and this post series come from The Defining Decade and should be accredited to Dr. Meg Jay.*

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