Excuse my Princess Bride reference but it seems I'm surrounded by weddings. I'm attending the wedding of a dear friend of mine this weekend. Another is getting married over the summer and two more in October (sadly, I will not be able to make these, but I should note them). I am very happy for all of them, that they're ready to take this next step in life. Of course, others want to know one thing, "Why are they getting married SO YOUNG??"
Maybe I just come from a young family, but I never thought young marriage was a bad thing. With my parents, it was expected. You found someone you loved, you knew you'd be together, you married them and that was that. It didn't matter if you hadn't yet opened your retirement accounts or if you hadn't gone to grad school and had an amazing career yet. It didn't even matter if you hadn't dated a ton of people. You struggled through various events, raised your kids, and enjoyed old age together.
Before you color me rose, I should acknowledge the couples who did and divorced later on. Yes, there are those who should have taken time to figure out life, to learn how to stand on their own two feet, who should have explored other options beforehand. I'm not saying everyone should marry young, but I am saying that young marriage does not automatically equal a bad marriage.
Now, I will attempt to answer some of these myths surrounding young marriage.
1. You need to have a career first: While I do believe you should both learn how to live independently and become financially stable, I don't think building a glamorous career is a prerequisite to marriage. First, we change jobs and careers so much now that we'd never marry if we took this advice. Second, when did marriage become an impediment to having a career? I'm pretty sure that if someone loves you enough to want to make a life with you, they should support you in following your dreams. Also, dreams can change. As long as you both are on the same page, I don't see this as a problem.
2. You need to shop around: What's the point? I don't buy the whole, "You need to kiss a ton of frogs before you find your prince." I'm pretty sure kissing is an acquired skill, one that comes with lots of practice, so if that's what you're worried about, fifty to sixty years could bring a ton of joy in that regard ;-) Second, I could get to know tons of people as friends and, if there's commonality and chemistry, THEN decide to take it to the next level. If I find that they truly are the one for me, why do I need to go out with someone else if I have no interest in them? Finally, if I'm preparing for a lifelong commitment, I find "serial monogamy" to be an impediment.
3. Young people only get married for the sex: That may be true for some people. However, I doubt this is true in all cases. First, I find that the people who say this often advise young couples to "know how the other is in bed" before you marry them. I don't think I need to repeat my "practice" comment here. Second, I know plenty of young, engaged couples who are sexually active now. I would conclude that they are getting married for more than just sex. For the ones who aren't, they understand that sexuality is fluid and that they can learn from each other. For both sets, they know that their "better half" is the one they want to be with in every way. Why should they delay it arbitrarily?
4. Young marriages always fail: Given the statistics for divorce combined with the rising age of marriage, I'd say that half of all marriages, young and not so, are doomed. No, you cannot know what will happen in the future. Yes, people change with age, with children, with life and it's not always good or bad. When you marry, you make a commitment and take a risk. However, if we didn't take risks, we'd never leave. The only issue that arises is if a couple is ready for such a risk. Some young people are, some older people are not. It depends on the person.
There are pros and cons to both marrying young and waiting. Marriage is a much bigger commitment than a career or a house. Yet delaying marriage for the sake of delaying is nonsensical. Only the couple can determine whether or not they're ready. Let us give support to those entering such a commitment, as well as those who've made it. Let us give warnings when there is cause and affirmations when things are well. Finally, let us raise our glasses and celebrate with our friends and family!