I once heard about a wedding that was performed for a man and woman in their 90s. With a combined age of 193, they had been dating—uh sorry, “courting”–for 18 years before deciding to tie the knot. That’s a seriously long time to plan a wedding!

On the other hand of the spectrum, a couple years ago when Duck Dynasty’s John Luke announced his engagement just around his 19th birthday, it caused a ripple effect of opinions all across the internet.

When it comes to getting married and taking that lifelong step of commitment before God, what’s the right age?

Everyone seems to have an opinion about the best age to get married.

We can all admit there are obvious extremes like the situations above. But on a less extreme note there are a lot of articles going around with thoughts and ideas on what age you should or shouldn’t be before you decide to say “I do.” While some are adamant that getting married young is the way to go, others make the case for getting married when you’re older and wiser.

From taming sexual desires to establishing financial stability to simply just needing to “grow up,” the reasons presented for when a person should get married are causing a lot of discussion and even some controversy in this hot-button topic.

I’ve been asked by numerous publications to address my personal opinion on topic of the “best age to get married.” But so far, I have kept my thoughts to myself. I think part of the problem with this entire discussion is that most of us speak based on our own experiences, assuming that what worked for us will work for others. But life’s just not that cut and dry all the time–is it?

So, I’ve put some thought into this, and I want to add to this conversation by saying that the perfect age to get married has nothing to do with the years you’ve lived, and everything to do with how you’ve lived them. Call me crazy, but I don’t think you can quantify a person’s preparedness for marriage simply based on how many years they’ve been alive.

As a professional counselor, I have worked with thousands of individuals and couples, and one pattern that has emerged is simply this: Life can look a whole lot different from one person to the next. I’ve seen 18-year-olds with the maturity and wisdom of 50-year-olds, and I’ve met 40-year-olds who still have the emotional IQ they did in their teen years.

Granted, our health and maturity in life may be given more time to develop the older we get, but I think it’s less about age and more about what we do with the time we’ve been given.

Being ready for love means we’ve taken the time to look inward—focusing on where we come from, who we are and where we’re going, even while standing alone.

Here’s a detailed post I wrote about what it means to get yourself ready for love (and then take the free “Are You Ready for Love” quiz that goes along with it!).

The perfect age to get married also has little to do with your plans, and so much more to do with God’s plans. Try presenting the “case to get married young” to a 48-year-old who has never had the opportunity to say “I do.” Life isn’t always that simple. Sometimes, the plans we have for our life are shattered into a billion pieces as days, months and years move us away from our personal time frames, goals and agendas.

Life happens, and while we may want to get married young, or even not get married at all, sometimes, our personal plans don’t line up with God’s plans.

If you’re truly seeking God and living out His story for your life, I would venture to say that the perfect age to get married is exactly the age that you are when you get married. I look back at all the times in my life when God’s plans trumped mine and I am so thankful that they did. He knew better than me about so many things. And had I known what He knew … I would have totally agreed with Him.

As Christians, I think we need to be really careful with the formulas and anecdotes that we offer people in the pursuit of the marriage because the truth is, God has never been one to conform to our cookie-cutter answers. He tends to crush the norms and shatter all our expectations, and I’m so glad He does–because our worlds can be so small when left to ourselves. At the end of the day, God’s Word calls us to one thing: to love others, ourselves and Him above all else.

The most successful marriages I’ve seen have so little to do with age and so much to do with the evidence of God’s incredible power at work in their lives. And thankfully, that’s something you can never put a number on.

This article was originally published on truelovedates.com. Used with permission.

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