Women are waiting longer to marry, so how does that change things?

In ancient times, of course, you hoped to marry for love. But it didn’t always happen that way. More often than not, marriage was arranged for social standing or even just survival. In ancient Mesopotamia, for example, rulers would marry off their daughters to gain influence over other areas and grow their kingdom. Puts a damper on those fantasy weddings, doesn’t it?

Thankfully, things are looking up for women when it comes to finding love. Women don’t necessarily “need” a man in their life in order to survive financially and as a result, women are getting married when they are good and ready—which is increasingly being delayed, according to surveys by the Pew Research Center, with the average age of first marriage now at 27. So what do modern, financially independent women look for in a marriage? Well, love, for one thing and according to Pew, a steady job. But in my experience as founder of Marriage.com, an online marriage resource, there are other more specific qualities that women today hold out for when deciding whether or not they are ready to tie the knot.

Here are four major things many women today want from marriage that you might relate to.

01. A Partner

A financially independent woman in her thirties brings to a marriage a much different perspective than a fresh-out-of-college bride. She most likely has a good career she worked hard to excel in, and, therefore, wont rely on another half to make ends meet. She wants someone who can share this journey with her, not try to take the spotlight and put her on the backburner. She wants an equal—a partner who has similar goals, but who will also support her in her own ambitions. She is looking for someone who makes her even stronger and more empowered as a woman. Of course, she is ready to do the same for him.

“Women want to connect with someone they hope they can form a bond with. Someone who can support them when issues arise in their relationship or with others. Essentially a person they can connect with while knowing they are respected and seen as an equal participant in the relationship” says Sara Nuahn, therapist and marriage expert.

02. Independence

Over the years of becoming financially independent, this woman has also spent time figuring out who she is and what’s most important to her. She has figured out what makes her happy. But she has also gotten used to living life her way. Sometimes, this type of woman may fear wedding bells because of what it means—sharing her life and having to change in order to do so. Combining her finances, time, and space can be a bit of a compromise for her. After all, she’s done just fine so far and she’s worried if this will be a good change or not.

That’s right, this woman typically needs some assurance that marriage won’t take away from, but rather enhance, the life she already has. A little bit of independence to be who she is within marriage is important. “Independence is, in fact, an important step in feeling connected to the partnership. No woman wants to be in a relationship where she feels she doesn't have the independence she knows she deserves,” Nuahn adds.

03. Fulfillment

Most likely, through the years, a thirtysomething woman has had a few relationships while she’s been on her career journey, so she knows what type of person she can mesh well with. Along the way, she may have even had her heart broken. 

But those days are over. She’s smart. She’s learned a thing or two and doesn’t want to make the same mistakes. While her career is fulfilling, she wants a marriage and family to feel a deeper sense of fulfillment. She wants to feel like her life matters at work and at home. Nuahn adds, “Women need to feel desired, wanted and fulfilled. They desire partners who can understand them emotionally ... A sense of fulfillment is absolutely essential to the well-being of the relationship (as well as personally).”

04. The Chance to Love

Being a single woman has its good parts, but it can also be very lonely. A woman will feel the pull to take care of others. It’s just something she is born with. That’s probably why she excels at her work—she takes care of those around her. But in marriage, she will have someone who belongs with her and only her. Someone special she can love. And nothing is more beautiful than a woman in love. She comes alive. The chance to love means finally looking outside herself and into the eyes of another; taking her husband’s worries and passions into herself. A chance to love is an opportunity to be a better person.

“A chance to love also is a chance to redefine how I love and respect myself as an individual, and how that love creates a partnership with another that is alive and fulfilling,” Nuahn concludes.

The reasons people get married may have changed over the years. In ancient times, it was to survive. But modern, financially independent women want to do more than just survive. They want to live, and they want to love. They need someone who will be there for them and make their life better. Now those are great reasons to get married.

Photo Credit: Katie Ruther