How young is too young to be getting married? One would think that the younger a couple is, the less life experience they have, the more undefined their sense of self is, and the more likely they will be to get divorced. Yet getting married young seems to be a popular trend, especially in the South.
Before you panic because you are 22 and still unmarried, consider these U.S. Census statistics. The median age of first marriage in the United States is 28 for men and 26 for women.
In fact, this trend of youthful marriages is the exception, not the rule. Since the 1950s, the median age of first marriage has been steadily on the increase. In a U.S. Census article, Rose M. Kreider and Renee Ellis wrote that “one of the most noticeable changes (from 1986 to 2009) in marital patterns has been the increase in the age at first marriage.”
You would think that college is stressful enough without adding such an immense commitment as marriage to the mix. Even marrying when one is barely out of college and has a steady job poses numerous challenges.
In 1987, The New York Times published an article by Andrew Yarrow called “Divorce at a Young Age: The Troubled 20s,” that highlights the fact that more marriages dissolve before the age of 30 than at any other point in time. In addition, Yarrow said, for young couples, the divorce rate is double the national average.
Maybe you think you have found that wonderful person that you are sure you want to spend the rest of your life with. If they truly love you, they aren’t going anywhere. Why not wait to tie the knot and explore life?
The 20s can be a wonderful and difficult time. They can be filled with loneliness but also exploration of the world and oneself. This is the time when you are at your most free. By getting married young, a person is basically giving up a portion of their life that could be dedicated solely to themselves.
“Many couples who marry too early haven’t achieved a fully formed (sense of) self,” author Kay Mofett said in an article by Alex Kecskes on divorce360.com.
Kecskes writes that many young people are drawn to marriage by notions of companionship, romantic idealism, financial stability and social acceptance that they fail to realize the gravity of the commitment and the many problems that can and will arise from the decision.
At 21, 22, 23 or 24 a person may love their fiancé or spouse but at 45 they may not. By choosing to marry early, it’s possible young people have a more compatible suitor out there who isn’t being given a chance. Take some time before getting married. After all, you have the rest of your life ahead of you.
Liz Rector is a senior strategic communications major from Katy.