From personal experience I know that marriage at an early age greatly increases the odds that a relationship will not be successful. For this reason I always advise young people to live together, mature and defer their marital plans.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2001, found, “that 48% of those who marry before 18 are likely to divorce within ten years, compared to 24% of those who marry after age 25.”
Forty to 50% of marriages end in divorce in the US. The average marriage lasts for eight years. Fifty percent of marriages last 15 years, 33% 25 years and 6% 50 years. This essay will consider the impact early marriage has on these dismal statistics.
There are many reasons why marriages break up. Here is one list:
- Lack of communication
- Constant arguing
- Weight gain
- Unrealistic expectations
- Lack of intimacy
- Lack of equality
There are many other qualitative things that have contributed to increased divorce rates during the past half-century. Consider the greater power and expectations of women, less religious pressure to remain married and the big ones- it’s a hell of a lot easier to get divorced nowadays and it carries far less social stigma.
Young people are generally not mature enough to ensure marriage longevity and stability. Most of these relationships are overly dependent upon unrealistic expectations relating to romance and emotion. Little thought is given to the realities of living with another person and facing him or her every day for the rest of your life.
In many situations young people say, “to hell with financial issues, we just want to be together.” Well everybody’s got to eat and live some place. Where is the money going to come from to put food on the table and build a comfortable home? Hint: parents and family. Dependence on family members is a recipe for disaster. If you can’t afford to be married, wait until you earn enough to support yourself before you walk down the aisle.
There is wide disagreement about the reasons for infidelity. One opinion is that infidelity is a symptom rather than a cause of a deteriorating union.
For instance if a couple begins to have fewer and fewer intimate moments, one of them might be vulnerable to temptations outside the home. Or if one spouse doesn’t spend as much time being concerned with their personal appearance, it could be motivation for the other spouse to look elsewhere.
There are also numerous situations relating to the intellectual growth and emotional stability of a spouse that could also lead to disloyalty. The expression “the husband (or the wife) has outgrown the wife (or the husband)” is a trite way to say that one spouse is doing exciting things at work with exciting people, while the other is just feeding and caring for the children.
The metamorphosis that an individual experiences in the decade ending at 30 years of age is significant. The first ten years of marriage, starting at 20, could be impacted significantly by responsibilities affiliated to raising a family and earning a salary that enables a family to thrive.
The pressure of providing financial and emotional support to a spouse and children can be overwhelming for any young adult regardless of their upbringing. When that pressure is coupled with greater responsibility at work and one of a million other problems a person may face, it could lead to aberrant behavior.
Making a transition from total freedom in all aspects of one’s life to providing for a spouse and children is a perilous journey. Decisions can no longer made based upon one’s private and innate desires. The rent must be paid, everyone must be fed and one must be accommodating to his or her spouse’s needs after a hard day’s work.
Would the world be a better place if young people married after, say, thirty? I think yes. Relationships would be tested for longer periods before a permanent commitment is made and most would defer decisions to have children. There would no legal or religious reasons to stay together if it is not in the best interests of both parties to do so.
Equally importantly is that fewer children would be subjected to a life with one parent. The tragedies of one-parent families are too long to list.
During their 20s most young people spend an inordinate amount of time trying to succeed at work. With more seasoning individuals are better able to cope with the stress and effort needed to simultaneously have a successful marriage and be a good parent.
An important issue not frequently considered is the number of unsuccessful marriages that are not terminated. The reasons for unhappiness are abundant and include financial issues, unfulfilling sexual relations and a growing schism between spouses that often develops over the years. The point is that breakups alone do not accurately represent the true damage of early marriage.
Many social scientists would say that a person changes extensively between the ages of 20 and 30. Change can be a good thing in a marriage or it could seed the destruction of a loving relationship.
Over the years a marriage becomes more lasting when both spouses participate in the evolution of the relationship. To say it another way, a spouse should be make their significant other a better person, parent and partner. When the contributions of either become unbalanced problems may be afoot.
And finally the children. The benefits of having two parents at home working together cannot be overstated. The contributions to the development of children should be relatively even. Sure a stay-at-home spouse will deal with mundane, but very important issues. But the working spouse should seek to have many quality moments with the kids as well.
There will never be a law that bars marriage before a certain age. But parents would be wise to advise their children against early marriage. Waiting may be a bit counter intuitive to the notion that 21-year-old moms have safer births than older moms, but other benefits offset this dichotomy.