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Here Comes the Teenage Bride, All Dressed in White

The Analysis of the Emerging Problems of Teenage Marriage


Dressed in WhiteThere was once a time when a person getting married at a young age was common. According to the New York Times, the average age for women to marry in the 1950’s was 19-years-old, and the marriage of people between the ages of 17 to 19 was not referred to as a teenage marriage because it was part of the norm. During those times, marriage between young adults was viewed the same way as marriage between 30-year-olds: a common practice.

Oftentimes, when people are told about a teenage marriage today, they usually suspect a pregnancy. In addition to pregnancy, wanting to get away from one’s parents can also be a contributing factor to teenage marriages, according to marriage.about.com.

“In some cases, teenagers who are without families for numerous reasons, or disconnected from their families may view marriage as a way of creating a family of their own so that they have someone to love and receive love in return,” said Thomas McCarthy, University psychologist.

No matter the circumstances, teenagers should not feel as if marriage is an obligation or something they have to do, nor should they view it as a means to an end. Although marriage may bring a certain level of freedom from one’s parents, it is also accompanied by many complications, expectations, and responsibilities. The pressures of a marriage can also bring about its downfall.

In 2001, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention published a study that discovered that 48 percent of people who marry before the age of 18 are likely to divorce within 10 years. A lack of financial security, as well as a lack of maturity and understanding of what marriage truly is can be major contributing factors to the failure of any marriage. According to McCarthy, one of the root causes of the failure of a marriage may also be the resentment the two individuals may feel toward each other because neither teenager was able to “experience their teenage years like many of their friends.”

On the other hand, the youth perspective compares teenagers who get married to “fools in love.” What these young individuals are not considering is that what they are feeling may only be a crush and not true love.

“Teenagers want to get married because they think they are in love,” said Elizabeth Regan, junior. “Most teens nowadays rush into marriage, and they think that they will make it, even if the world is against them.”

Much of today’s popular culture also glorifies teenage marriages and influences the youth. Shows such as “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” depict marriage as a simple solution to a difficult problem or as a means to an end. All of the show’s characters are teenagers in high school, yet they all want to be married before graduation, hoping that they will have their happily ever after and live as one big happy family. However, one of the marriages of the show failed as a result of marrying for the wrong reasons and poor communication after realizing the mistake.

Teenage marriages are frowned upon by many who feel that the individuals involved are just too young. Apart from the lack of maturity, teenagers who get married can be robbing themselves of the chance to be teenagers and enjoying everything that makes it great to be young.

“The person may not have had the opportunity to experience what many teenagers who are not married get to experience, such as not being able to go to college or to enjoy a social life without the responsibilities that come with marriage,” McCarthy said.

An unsuccessful and sometimes tumultuous relationship at a young age can affect an individual’s view of relationships for the future.

“Since so many teen marriages end in divorce, it is reasonable to assume that the teenagers will have future relationships if their marriage ends. However, since their experience with marriage may ultimately be divorce, it may discourage him or her from wanting to get married in the future,” McCarthy added. “Further, if there is a child from the marriage, it will affect the dynamic of any future relationships.”

According to ideas.repec.org, teenage marriages frequently lead to higher poverty rates. The teenagers who marry young sometimes did not get the chance to further their educations and attain decent jobs. Eventually, when the marriage dissolves, there is very little either individual can do to better their economic situations.

“Teens today should realize that they don’t have enough experience at this age to make a life changing decision,” Regan added. “It is something each couple should explore before they commit to each other forever.”

Despite the few teenagers who do get married at young ages, the percentage of teenage marriages is on the decline, and some do not believe the practice will return.

“I do not think getting married young will be the new trend,” Regan said. “Most people today are set on ‘getting their ducks in a row’ first: the career, the finances, and steady income, and marriage usually gets put to the side.”

PHOTO COURTESY of newyorktimes.com