Among the insulting things that can be uttered to a newly-engaged couple, “You’re too young to get married” is near the top. If you’re in your early twenties or younger, it can seem like every time you mention your engagement you’re opening yourself up for more unwanted advice about how you should take your time. However, for many happy couples who meet each other early in life, there’s no reason to artificially postpone the wedding day. Only you can know if you’re ready for marriage–but first, you have to weigh the pros and cons.
Pro: More Stability
According to a study the Journal of Health and Social Behavior published in 2012, married couples are less likely to drink excessive amounts of alcohol than their single counterparts. (This is perhaps due to the fact that they already know they’re going home with a cutie at the end of the night.) Without the increased responsibility that comes with marriage vows, many young people languish in an extended childhood throughout their twenties; in contrast, married men and women earn more than their single counterparts. (Economists have been tracing this odd trend for decades and call it the “marriage premium.”)
Pro: More Passion
What a couple does in their bedroom is their own business, and it’s different for every couple. However, there are some larger trends to notice. For one, researcher Dana Rotz of Harvard University noticed that the younger a married couple was, the more frequently they engaged in lovemaking. In fact, according to Rotz, for every four years you wait to tie the knot, you lose an average of one lovemaking session with your spouse per month. Why wait any longer?
Pro: A Growing Relationship
When you’re in a healthy relationship, you just know. Your partner makes you feel happy and fulfilled. You both go out of your way to make each other feel happy and appreciated. Your partner doesn’t get in the way of your goals and dreams, but rather gives the extra support you need to achieve them. You know when it’s not just a case of mere lust; it’s true love. And if you’ve been lucky enough to meet that special someone early in life, there’s no reason to put your relationship on hold for years before taking the next step.
Con: Growing Apart
A leading cause of divorce in couples who marry young is simply the process of growing apart. Although you may find you have everything in common with your high school sweetheart now, what happens when it’s a few decades down the line and one of you wants to run for senator while the other has become an avid nude beach advocate? The later in life you wait to get married, the more knowledge you’ll have about your life’s desired path.
Con: Missing Chances
When you say your marriage vows, you promise to take care of each other in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, and so on. But illness, job loss, and other troubles don’t wait for convenient times to strike. Becoming part of a married unit means shouldering some big compromises–like postponing your education to support your spouse or raise your children. When you wait until you’ve gotten your career underway, you can say your vows without worrying about missing life opportunities.
Con: Losing Independence
Your early adulthood is a time to discover who you are and what you want to do with your life. If you get married too soon, you put your individual discovery on hold in favor of discovering who you are as half of a couple. Even if your spouse is supportive of you and your life goals, you may still miss opportunities that can only be had as a single person–like solo traveling, dating, and even learning that it’s okay to be alone. Make sure you don’t come to resent your spouse later in life for “preventing” you from experiencing these things.
Follow Your Heart–And Your Head
The age you get married is your choice and yours alone. Don’t let the naysayers drain the joy from your engagement. However, if many of your close relatives and friends have serious concerns, you should treat it as a red flag. Examine your relationship as honestly as possible. If there are any doubts, postpone your wedding for a year or two. If your relationship is supposed to last through a lifetime of marriage, it will have no trouble waiting until then.
Lisa is a special needs teacher and a hugger. She always makes time for everyone and lightens up everybody’s lives with her presence. When she is not chasing her students around the yard, she finds time to write about what she truly loves, and you guessed it, its people and relationships.