Getting Married in College | Engaged Marriage

Getting Married in College

By Dustin | Marriage Preparation

Note: This is a guest post from Marina Salsbury.  I’ve been asked about this topic numerous times and enjoy hearing a fresh take on it.  FYI, I was married right after college graduation, and Bethany was still in college at the time.

Often couples who date in college want to go ahead and get married while they are still in school, rather than wait until they have graduated and completed their education.

There are many issues to be considered when making this life-changing decision, including how it will effect the couple financially, emotionally and socially.

Marriage in college can change the picture of cramming in the library or working on online college classes in a messy dorm quite a bit.

While there appears to be little agreement among researchers about the ideal age to marry, collegiate couples in their 20s often choose to go ahead and begin their marriages, even if they are still in school.

Developmental Goals of Young Adulthood

Each decade in life has certain developmental goals to be reached.

During the 20s, which is when the majority of people attend college, people begin to live as independent adults away from the structure of family and parents. This is a time when people start to explore their own senses of value, make plans and goals for themselves, and explore what they want to accomplish in life.

It isn’t uncommon for college students to change the focus of their studies several times during their college careers simply because their interests change and they discover something they hadn’t considered as a career option.

Young adulthood has also traditionally been a time when couples would come together, get married, and then start a family. Couples in the 1940s were married in their early 20s, but today it’s not uncommon for couples to be several years older before considering marriage: on average they are 25 years old for females and 28 for males.

This time of life is also prime childbearing age for women and often this is a driving factor for couples to get married in their 20s. If having children is a primary goal in life, many couples want to have children when their bodies are most ready and able to handle the rigors of pregnancy and parenthood.

Financial Considerations

When couples are considering getting married while still in college, one of the major factors to think about is the financial impact it will have for them. Many students are dependent on their families and parents for financial support in order to attend college.

One of the questions to ask parents is whether or not they will continue their financial support if a couple gets married. The answer to this question can have a major impact on whether or not it will even be possible for both members of the couple to continue with their studies after they get married.

Another financial issue is what kind of resources the couple will have for living expenses. Not all colleges have living quarters available for married couples. The couple may have to find a way to be able to afford off-campus living, including covering the expenses of rent, utilities, transportation and food (never mind entertainment).

This can be quite a challenge in addition to tuition and other educational expenses.

For some couples, the decision may be to have one member of the couple temporarily stop attending college and work in order to support the other’s continuing educational goals. The risk of taking on this approach to finances is that the partner who stops attending college may find it difficult to return to school once family life is well underway and other responsibilities have been taken on as a married couple.

Social Impact

For college-age couples, getting married can be a boon to social life. If they have numerous friends who are already married or at least in serious relationships, then it’s easy to have lots of support in living together as married couple.

The fact is married couples tend to spend most of their free time with other couples. Single friends may drift away or feel left out because they don’t share similar experiences or interests. This can be especially true if a couple quickly has children after they’re married.

Having children while married and in college is also a difficult challenge. Juggling parenting duties, classes, and working can be stressful on almost any married couple. As a result, many couples who decide to get married while still in college deliberately choose to delay having children until they are finished with their educations and established in their careers.

Deciding to get married is one of the most major life events. The impact of getting married while in college can be huge, financially, emotionally, and socially, but it’s possible to be happy and fulfilled, even with the stresses that come with being married while trying to attend classes and meet all of your responsibilities.

Ultimately, if it’s what the couple wants, there’s a way to make it work.

Share your story in the comments – did you get married in college?  Why or why not?

(photo source)
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About the Author

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.

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(22) comments

aly

my husband and i married in december 2009. i graduated april 2010 and he will graduate in april 2012 (so soon!! finally!). he served a two year mission for our church which is why he is graduating after me. i got a lot of scholarship money my last semester and was able to start a full-time job in may 2010. however, he supported us with his part time job from january through april. it was tough but we found a very inexpensive place to live and made it work. we are expecting our first baby in february. my husband is a very smart man-he will graduate in civil engineering-but didn’t have great study or school habits while we dated. since we’ve been married his habits and grades have improved substantially. we prayed a lot about getting married, but in our culture and religion it is not uncommon for couples to marry while in college because we abstain from sexual intimacy until marriage. it has been, and continues to be, difficult at times especially as we are not sure if he will begin a master’s after graduating or start a job, but we try to do everything in faith and in prayer.

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    Adam

    Hi there, I am currently a freshman in college, and my girlfriend of four years and I have been talking about marriage ever since High school graduation… We are both praying hard when we’re together and apart about it (she attends a college over 2 hours from the campus where I am living). Our beliefs also suggest we wait to have sex when married. We are very determined to stick to that. While I know right now we should not get married right now (even though the want to do so is unbearably strong), the thought of waiting to graduate and start a career before the day we can be together is a hard thought for me to bear, would you mind (if you happen to see this) me asking you some questions and for some advice?

    Reply

I got married when I was 20, sophomore in college. I’m 26 now, so we’ve been married (almost) 6 years and have 2 children. At the time, you dont think 20 is young, but oh my gosh!! I was so young!! We didn’t have any money then… and we don’t have much now either. Ha 😉 I had my first baby at 23 and then 25. I know my social life would have been much different in college if I wasn’t married, but thankfully we had a lot of young married couple friends as well. I wasn’t into the partying scene anyways, so I wasn’t missing out on something I wanted to do. I can’t believe it will be 6 years of marriage in 3.5 weeks!!

{What should I make my husband?!} 🙂

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    Fatima

    Hi Samantha, I am also 20 and a sophomore in college. My boyfriend and I want to get married this summer but my family is against it, but I know its what I want and should do. How did your family feel about you getting married at such a young age?

    Reply
Mandi @ Life...Your Way

I got married when I was 20 and still in college, and I’m so thankful to have had my husband by my side as we “grew up” together. Money was tight, we made lots of mistakes, and we had a lot of maturing to do, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. 9 years and 4 little girls later, we’re happier than ever!

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Hi Dustin,
I could never dream of marrying in college but I applaud those who do. It’s definitely not for everyone 😀 I prefer being on my own then marrying before I’m thirty haha…

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I am getting married while in college (at the age of 20) so maybe if you post this again in a few years I will let you know how amazing well (God spare) it went :))

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Great post that shows the pros and cons of marrying in college/early.

I definitely applaud those who got married in college. I personally don’t think I would have made a great wife if I did as I needed to grow up! I got married at 28 and i think that was the best age for me anything before that might have been a disaster. I needed to experience life by myself, finish my first degree and masters before plunging into marriage. Marriage is hard work and with children even harder.

So best thing is to do what works for you, prayerfully.

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My wife and I were both in college when we got married. She was 19 and I was 25 (I returned to school a few years after high school). I will be graduating in a few weeks and she has 2 years to go (switched majors mid-way through).

I wouldn’t have it any other way, though. Having someone to really support and share with has been amazing. We both had already experienced life on our own, we both had scholarships coming in and part time jobs, and our families were supportive.

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Batrice Adcock

My husband and I were married just before we started grad. school, at 24. We had dated all through undergrad. While I did well grade-wise in undergrad, I was a much better student in graduate school. My life was much more balanced. It was much easier to spend time with my husband after we were married. I didn’t have the struggle with abstinence/chastity so much after we were married. I was able to focus more on my spiritual life as well.

I’m a big advocate of couples marrying younger, so long as they have spent time prayerfully discerning other vocations as well–such as being a priest or sister.

There is not much that is more freeing that the serious commitment of unconditional love that comes with marriage.

Great topic to post on!!

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Dustin

Thanks for the awesome feedback! As I mentioned in the opening line, my wife Bethany was 20 and in college when we got married 10 years ago. I was 21 and just a month post-graduation with my engineering degree. We both went back to graduate school during the early years of our marriage, and we turned out just fine.

Actually, we had already been together for 5 years before we were married, so it seemed like it took forever for it happen. 🙂

Dustin

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I think Aly hit on a very importnat part of this – sexual purity. The reality is this, the longer you wait to get married, the more likely it is you won’t be a virgin. Beyond that, the longer you THINK it will be till you marry, the greater the chance you will choose to have sex before you marry. The Church as a whole needs to come to grips with this simple truth and understand that telling young adults to finish college and get a good job before they marry is about the same thing as saying “start having sex now”. It’s not the intended message, but it is the demonstrated result of the message.

As to free time, if you think about all the time college folks spend in mate seeking (or mating seeking) activities, it’s seems they would have more time to focus on school work if they were married!

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John

My wife and I were married in college and we’re in our 50’s now. It hasn’t always been easy, but we stuck with it; now it’s hard to remember what life was like without her.

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It seems like there is no one way to do it, but that marrying at different developmental stages have their advantages and disadvantages. If you marry when you are a little older, you may have formative experiences that you would not have if married, and you are probably a little more mature. Marrying in college allows you to grow up with your spouse and learn so much together.

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Beckey

I didn’t marry until I was 34, I met my husband when I was 32. It just worked out that way. The guy I was with in my 20s and I went out separate ways before we got married and it worked out for the best.

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Helen Rosxkowski

My future husband and I are getting married in August, just a little more than 2 weeks before my senior year of undergrad nursing school and his first year of graduate school. I am so excited, I enjoy being with him so much and we love each other. We understand that with school and marriage and finances it is going to be tough, but we have talked it through and crunched numbers and made plans and we trust in each other, out families and in God to support us and get us through the first year and many years to come.

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I look up to those that got married in college, and made it work, I wish to one day be one of you with the guy I have been dating for two years.

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Samantha

I love this article. I am 20 years old right now. My amazing Cody asked me to be his wife this past Valentine’s Day! We are planning to get married in the summer 0f 2017. He will be finished with college then and I will have only one year left. I know in the beginning it will be tough, but we will have God to help guide us 🙂 We are also abstinent until marriage as well. My purity ring is right beside my engagement ring, which is beautiful by the way 🙂

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    Samantha,

    Thanks so much for sharing! Your joy comes through loud and clear in your comment, and it makes me so happy to hear about your engagement and commitment to chastity.

    God Bless!

    Dustin

    Reply
Faith Maria Gogbar

My date of 12yrs and 1 kid have proposed to me and we are planning to get married soon, but we are in college, I have a permanent job and he is working as a volunteer with a local NGO. For the past time we are trying to make it financially.
My mother is saying that I should graduate from college first because my husband to be is not working and moreover he will not be able to provide for us(Me and Our baby).

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I’m quite confident that you could get married in college and “make it work” but I have to wonder – what’s the point? What’s the benefit? Why not wait until you’re done with college? I mean, I just don’t see what the big rush is to make such a big commitment.

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