Contrary to popular belief, it's not often that I go on a rant about a particular subject. I know that I tend to be opinionated and stubborn, so usually I try and keep my mouth shut during debates to avoid causing a scene. However, after participating in a discussion this morning about early-age marriage, I'm dusting off the old soapbox and climbing aboard.
Let me put it bluntly: I think getting married at an early age is a bad idea. Considering that I work at a conservative private university where core family values and Christian ideals are strongly expressed, my views don't always receive a warm welcome. It's not that I don't believe in the Biblical family structure of one man and one woman; I wholeheartedly endorse heterosexual marriage and believe that we are better off economically, spiritually, physically, and emotionally because of it. My problem comes when Godly people: pastors, professors, parents, mentors, etc. encourage young college students (teenagers even!) to not wait to tie the knot.
This morning I read an article from Christianity Today, which basically stated that couples should get married at a young age to avoid having to stay abstinent during their peak sexual maturity. The author - Mark Regnerus - claims that the rising age-at-marriage for women from 21 (in 1970) to 26 (today) has cost us "five additional long years of peak sexual interest and fertility." Is it just me, or does this sound absolutely ridiculous?? Last time I checked, 20 year old women weren't lining up to get married so they could start having babies (unless, of course, your last name is Duggar and in that case, I'll be praying for you). The article does list some additional factors in making a marriage work, as a footnote at the end of seven pages, but the overall thesis was having sex. Choosing to get married because of sexual maturity and fertility is shallow at best and detrimental at worst.
But sex isn't even the real reason why I don't support early age-at-marriage. Through my job, I have dealt with several young couples who have faced not only economic hardship, but emotional and spiritual turmoil due to marrying too young. Marriage is a huge reality check for students who think that once they are married, life will continue to be blissful. In the article, Mr. Regnerus encourages parents to help out their young newlyweds (financially) as they adjust to independent life. With marriage comes responsibility, which means stop living off of mom and dad and/or Sallie Mae, get a job, and pay the bills. Choosing to get married is a HUGE decision, which honestly I don't think the average 18-22 year old is fit to make.
I know, here I am I'm ranting and raving about the evils of getting married too early, when I said, "I do" before my 25th birthday. Are we the only exception because it's my blog and I can't be wrong? Of course not. But we did make the transition from child, to college student, to independently functioning members of society before choosing to share our lives together. We graduated from college, got jobs, moved into our separate apartments, and got a taste of real life. I fear that students today think that marriage is "just like college, only with sex" and don't consider the consequences or missed opportunities. I'm not saying that everyone should be out of debt or own a house or have an established career before getting married (since we have none of those); but at least learn to stand on your own two feet first.
Part of me feels as though I should apologize if I offended anyone, but really, I don't think I'm too out of line. I have several friends who got married (what I would consider) young, and are making it work. Heck, my own parents did it! But does that mean I have to encourage it or condone it? No. Unfortunately it's not my job to give out advice, but maybe I'll start handing out my blog address with my business cards. Then again, as a landlady at a Christian university, my job would be at risk if students starting listening to me.