On Marrying at 21

10.24.2012, 3:07 PM

Over at the new Verily Magazine blog, my wife, Amber — who got married at the insane age of 21! I would never let my kids do that (ha,ha) — asks “What makes early marriage so frightening?” today. She reflects on her own story of getting married young, remembering that seeing other young couples getting married made it easier.

In her essay “‘There but for the Grace’: The Ethics of Bystanders to Divorce,” scholar M. Christian Green reflects on how divorce affects not only divorcées, but everyone else, too. But in my experience, the inverse is also true. Good marriages have a way of sharing some of their strength with the rest of us.

You should read the whole thing, here.

And then – perhaps  for your bedtime story with your little ones – you can dust off from the archives this little whopper, from yours truly, “Did I Get Married Too Young?”


8 Responses to “On Marrying at 21”

  1. Diane M says:

    I think the best age to get married has to do with when you find the right person. You need to get an education and a job, of course.

    I think we have a culture that says you shouldn’t get married in your early 20s, but many people are actually living with someone at that age and end up marrying them. It’s different, but in terms of when you find the right person, it may be happening at the same age.

    What I think is not a good idea is to believe that you can’t get married in your early 20s and therefore to let go of a relationship that works.

  2. “What I think is not a good idea is to believe that you can’t get married in your early 20s and therefore to let go of a relationship that works.” Me too. Ellen Goodman had a beautiful column on that many many years ago.

  3. annajcook says:

    I would also suggest that our current cultural judgyness against young people marrying (if they are not coerced into doing so) is extended to judgyness against teen parents, as if all young parents = “bad” parents (especially young mothers). While obviously most adolescent parents are vulnerable economically and still growing psychologically and physically, and more vulnerable to exploitation in the sex, marriage, parenting department, being a teenager or in your early twenties is not an across-the-board disqualifier for having responsible sex, becoming a responsible parent, or establishing a strong and lasting relationship.

  4. Roger says:

    A nice story. I wouldn’t recommend my experience either, but my partner and I committed to each other when I was 18, he 25. So deep and lasting relationships are certainly possible at a young age. Of course, we were not able to marry, and most of our friends probably thought that our relationship would not last. But we had shared values and shared goals and our relationship worked from the beginning.

  5. La Lubu says:

    As someone who did get married young (and divorced relatively young, too), I’d advise against it. The advantage of waiting isn’t just about money; it’s also about finding a partner who is truly ok with who you are and what you do (rather than assuming you can be A Project). And frankly, not everyone grows up in a functional family. People who don’t need extra time to heal from the trauma of that experience before pursuing marriage. Especially if their streetwise, cynical, know-it-all youth (raises hand) leaves them with the impression of not having experienced any. (look, someone needed to say it, and I’m Qualified. *smile*)

    I’m skeptical about the influence of others on divorce. Rather, I think it shows how stratified our society is. The socioeconomic and cultural groups least likely to divorce don’t have much contact with those who do. They work different jobs, live in different neighborhoods, run in different social circles.

  6. Diane M says:

    @LaLubu – I’ve wondered the same thing. How much is it just class?

    I would add that at a certain point if you are married or divorced, you may end up spending time even more with people with the same marital status.

    I think there probably is some influence from others, though. At a certain point if most people you know are divorced, it will probably affect your behavior. It might make you less likely to marry in the first place, at least.

    I like to believe that knowing couples who’ve made it work would help. One of the problems may be that people who are married don’t spend time with people who are divorced or never married.

    “I’m skeptical about the influence of others on divorce. Rather, I think it shows how stratified our society is. The socioeconomic and cultural groups least likely to divorce don’t have much contact with those who do. They work different jobs, live in different neighborhoods, run in different social circles.”

  7. Peter Hoh says:

    My wife and I got married at 24 and 25, respectively.

    And today marks our 25th anniversary.

    Here’s wishing all of you coupled commenters many happy years together.

  8. La Lubu says:

    I would add that at a certain point if you are married or divorced, you may end up spending time even more with people with the same marital status.

    This too. I’m ok with spending time with couples, but I happen to live in a part of the country where that isn’t considered ok—where singles, especially women, are viewed as a threat to married couples. It’s in the culture to keep single friends and associates at arm’s length.