Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Alexis Bonari. I hope you enjoy these insights on young marriage while I spend a few days with my family on a bit of paternity leave. By the way, when we got married, I was 21 and Bethany was 20…and it worked out pretty well for us. 🙂
From a purely statistical standpoint, marriage before the age of 25 results in an over 50% probability that the marriage will end in divorce court. Despite the dismal statistics, many young couples still defy the odds and attempt a young marriage.
Speaking as a 25-year-old who met my same-age husband at the age of 19, and married at the age of 20, I can attest to both the joys and pitfalls of early marriage.
Before considering marriage, it would be wise to individually consider the following five questions. This will help you enter into marriage with your eyes open.
1. Can you really say you’ve dated enough/traveled enough/lived alone enough/experienced enough to want to commit to a single person for the rest of your life?
If you have ANY hesitation in answering this question to the affirmative, STOP NOW! You’re not a bad person if you’re 19 and still wanting to experience the dating scene.
You will be a bad person if you agree to marry someone you love and then subsequently cheat on them/blame them for the loss of your freedom and youth. This is a relationship killer, so take note. If, however, you truly feel you have experienced everything you want to experience in the realm of dating or single life, go ahead to the next question.
2. How do you handle money? Do you know how your fiancé handles money? Do you agree?
Finances cause more divorces than infidelity.
I didn’t understand why this was the case until my husband and I were both out of college, out of work, our student loan bills were coming due, and I was pregnant. We loved each other through the whole experience, but the stress was unreal.
He and I have very different ways of approaching finances, and those differences were the source of much of our stress. Figure out where you stand on questions such as: how much debt is too much debt? If we have children will one of us stay at home with them?
3. Do you want children?
This is simple. If you don’t/do want to have children and your partner does/doesn’t, figure out a compromise or leave now.
It is completely unfair to expect someone to change their attitudes towards having children. This is a primal, deeply-seated issue for most people. For those who want kids, refusing to have them is like cutting out a piece of their soul. For those who don’t want kids, guilting them into having children is robbing them of their freedom and sense of self-direction.
No good can come from either option, so find some common ground.
4. Do you agree on basic core values involving sex and how to raise children?
Disagreement is healthy in moderation.
There are, however, some issues that sometimes cannot be resolved if both parties fundamentally disagree. Sex, money and child rearing are the three major categories that cause the most problems. People are highly unlikely to change their attitudes toward any of these, so don’t expect your partner to. If he looks at pornography now, he most likely will in thirty years. You’ve been warned.
5. Do you respect each other’s religious beliefs or lack thereof?
When my husband and I were first married, I was a Christian and he was from a multi-generational family of atheists. His father literally wrote the book on Biblical errancy, and my family went to church three times a week.
Our personal belief systems have changed over the years, but our respect for each other hasn’t. I didn’t try to convert him, and he didn’t treat me like I was a moron who believed in a sky fairy. We would never have survived if either one of us had crossed these lines.
How old were you when you got married? Do you think that young marriage is a thing of the past or still a wise move?
Dustin Riechmann created Engaged Marriage to help other married couples live a life they love (especially) when they feel too busy to make it happen. He has many passions, including sharing ways to enjoy an awesome marriage in 15 minutes a day, but his heart belongs with his wife Bethany and their three young kids.