How Young is Too Young for Marriage?

Engaged at 21, One Student Shares Her Experience of Impending Marriage

“But you’re so young! Don’t you want to live?” I always laugh when people ask me this. As far as I know, you don’t stop living once you’re married. You don’t fall into a void of nothingness where you no longer do anything.

In fact, I’m hoping not, since I’m engaged to be married soon after I graduate in May, and yes, I’m only 21. I believe I’m lucky. I found the man that I want to spend my life with early, and we both believe that we are mature enough to take the next step.

I’ve always been the classic 21 going on 30. I hate going out, I am a complete homebody, and I worry more about paying off my student loans and getting a great mortgage rate more than anyone I know.

It’s important to note that marrying relatively young is not for everyone. Everybody isn’t ready for a lifelong commitment such as marriage, and when it’s forced, more often than not, it will crash and burn.

Most of us have seen a divorce up close and personal, be it our own parents, a friend’s parents, or a family member. This may scare many from marriage, especially when we are often seen as immature and not fully knowing of the evils of the world.

I’ve felt this myself. My parents married when my mom was 20 and was craving any excuse to escape her own family. They divorced 14 years later, and my mom is always telling me they were simply too young to understand what they wanted at the time.

My fiancé’s parents suffered a similar fate. They were married when his mother was 18, and they divorced 5 year later. She too, tells me that she was too young and looking for what to do after high school with college not in her future.

I see both of these circumstances as our advantage because, with this in mind, we go into marriage with the sober idea that there will be problems, but no matter what, divorce is simply not an option for us.

In addition, it made me promise myself never to say ‘yes’  if I didn’t believe I was ready.

On the other hand, being engaged young has brought its own issues to my life. A few of my friends have almost completely broken off contact with me. It’s as if I’m too mature for them now, as if I’m a grown up and it’s a disease that they do not want to catch.

Others now see me as motherly, asking me for advice rather than out on a shopping and gossip date.

In contrast, some of my family sees me as the silly niece who’s going to be the first to get married in my generation.  I’ve heard lots of “Are you sure?”  and a few disapproving whispers.

My parents are okay with it, more or less. My dad, since day one of my dating my fiancé, has told me that we have a “good thing going on,” and advised me not to “let him go”.

My mom always tells me that I was born at least 25, and I’m more mature than she is, so she whole heartedly believes I’m making the right choice for me, even if it scares her to death.

So the real question is, “How young is too young to be engaged or married?” I believe that this is an impossible question to answer.

Who can put an age on something like that? Yes, I believe that 16 is too young, but what about once you’re a mature adult who can vote and shoot a gun and make important decisions for themselves? If you’re ready, go for it. I have some advice before you get engaged or even think about it though.

A magazine I once read suggested doing these five things with your significant other before jumping the gun.

Go through one major family event: It can be the death of a loved one or a family pet, or another extremely emotional event. It’s important to know how you will support one another during a time like that.

Live together: if you’re religious values allow it. I cannot imagine not living with my fiancé before being married. Moving in together, learning about how each person runs his or her days and how you need to bend to make it work is extremely stressful and WILL put a strain on your relationship if you let it. I cannot imagine that stress in addition to being newly married.

Go on a week-long vacation together: No, really. Can you spend a whole week with no work or family to interrupt you with this other person? It’s a good way to find out.

Talk about what you each want: Make sure you’re on the same page. If you want four kids and to live in the town your mom grew up in, but your significant other wants to travel the world and have no children, you might need to reconsider.

Make sure that you are in this for no other reason than you love this person so much that you cannot be without them: Make sure there is nothing nagging in the back of your mind that adds to why you need to be with them.

So am I too young? I think not. I’m prepared to enter this marriage with the knowledge that it will not all be “My Fair Wedding” and white doves.

I know that marriage is not like when you’re a child and marriage is a ring pop or twist ties. It doesn’t end as simply as taking off the ring. I also know that getting that Tiffany’s engagement ring does not mean you’re ready.

You need to look inside yourself and answer honestly if you are too young and if you are ready. I know I am, and I’m ready for my wedding in June.