How to get happily married

A lawyer and a therapist make it simple: stay single, ladies—until your 30s—and find great friends

Photo Illustration by Taylor Shute

If you want a long happy marriage, “your twenties shouldn’t be spent finding a man; your twenties should be spent finding yourself.” That’s the advice in a new book for young single women called Last One Down the Aisle Wins: 10 Keys to a Fabulous Single Life Now and an Even Better Marriage Later.

The book’s co-authors are Shannon Fox, a marriage psychotherapist, and her best friend Celeste Liversidge, a divorce lawyer. They married at 29 and 30, and write that “for the past 16 years, we have been working with women in crisis, trying to save their troubled marriages. We listened to women pour their hearts out and share their stories of disappointment, regret, disillusionment and guilt. We’d often commiserate about how frustrating it was to enter our clients’ lives after the damage to their marriages was already done.”

They wondered what could be done to better people’s chances of having a successful marriage. “Here’s the key,” they concluded. “Don’t marry young. In fact, don’t get married until you’re 30.” Forget notions of marrying at 25 and pregnant at 28, they write. “Marrying young, before you know yourself and have a solid handle on your life, is a bad idea.”

Spend your twenties investing in new friendships with women, they suggest. “You’re finally moving past the unavoidable high school and college drama into a place of maturity, where you can develop true, solid friendships. Take it from us, you’re going to need your girls!” Don’t think your husband will be your best friend, they say. “Like it or not, your husband is not going to be able to tend to each and every one of your emotional needs. It will be disastrous for you to expect him to do so.”

In your twenties, “you have ample time to spend in long, late night conversations with girlfriends.” Do this, because “it is these friends who will remind you of who you used to be when you find yourself knee-deep in diapers and Disney character lunch boxes.”

Before you marry, improve your relationship with money, they also advise. “Your husband is more likely to lose respect for you if you are a damsel in financial distress,” they write. “Some women believe the rubbish that they are not as good at math as men and therefore inherently unable to understand money. What a load of crap! You are not hopeless in matters of money. You are probably just inexperienced and fearful.”

They cite the statistic that money is one of the top two causes of divorce, second only to infidelity. “If you fail to take practical steps to take charge of your finances, you will remain financially blind and put your future marriage at risk.” Also, if you’re still getting money from your parents, it’s time for that to end, they write.

If you have eating issues, sort them out before you marry. The book cites a recent study in which 80 per cent of women said their negative body image was ruining their sex life; 67 per cent of men said their wife’s poor body image was a significant source of frustration for them, and had a negative impact on the happiness of their relationship. One husband said, “When Michelle and I first started dating, she seemed super-confident. But just before we got married, I started to see how critical she was about her appearance. Over the past seven years, I’ve come to understand that Michelle truly thinks of herself as fat, ugly and unworthy—which is so far from the truth it’s just plain ridiculous.” He went on, “I’m starting to lose respect for her as a mature adult. She’s acting like a teenager, always worried about how she looks.” The authors write, “Your twenties and early thirties is the right time to right this adversarial relationship with your body.”

The book promises, “If you spend your twenties learning how to be a fabulous, stable, independent, fulfilled single woman, it will naturally follow that you will choose a guy to marry who possesses these same wonderful qualities.”

“You will lose your taste for the long-on-charisma and short-on-character guys whom you found yourself drawn to like a moth to a flame. And you will have what it takes to be a great wife and partner in a lasting and loving marriage.”

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