Have you ever been asked a question, and found yourself stumbling over an emotion filled answer? Have you ever been asked a question that seemed to be aimed at you to embarrass or humiliate, and your answer came out as an uncomfortable ball of anger? I was once put on the spot to answer a question by a professor in my Personal Relationship class, seeing that I was the only student in the classroom that was married. It was the year of 2000, and I had only been married for about 3-4 months. In hindsight, the question is easy to answer but at that time, I was caught up in the emotions of the disagreements going on in the classroom. During this time frame, I was not very good at answering questions on the spot, especially if I was feeling any type of emotional turmoil, such as anger, frustration, or annoyance. So I murmured out a emotional filled response that was too deep and most students in the room could not understand.
In this class, we had began a discussion about marriage and the major reasons that divorces happen in the U.S. There were all sorts of heated debates about the reasons for divorces. I was quietly listening and observing because it seemed that a lot of students were living out their personal frustrations with divorce in their families. One student says he wholeheartedly believes that the reason there are so many divorces in the U.S. is because people marry too young. Immediately, the professor and many other students, turn to look at me and says with a sarcastic tone, “Well, you’re married, so do you think marrying young is the reason for divorces?”. Maybe I was caught up in the emotions of the environment but I felt offended. The tone of the question seemed accusatory instead of curious, so I lashed out with a emotional filled answer, which I will not repeat.
So here’s my do-over…. Is age just a number in marriage, or is marrying too young the reason for the increase in divorces in the 20th century in America? I will only discuss the divorce rate prior to my marriage, because there has been a recent decline in divorce rate but also a decline in marriages as most adults are deciding to cohabitate, or remain single over marrying.
I believe that marrying young is not a predetermining factor to divorce when the following exists:
1. As a Christian, I must say that my faith has been the absolute foundation for a long lasting marriage; having married at a young age. There are many biblical truths and spoken truths that I have received that help me combat the challenges that come with being married. When I am mad or don’t know what to do, my relationship with God helps me to make good choices that bring peace and sound resolutions to my marriage. The grace of God has provided many blessings and resources as we continue maturing in marriage, such as my pastors (former & current), mentors, and books. It gives me the ability to overcome flaws that are detrimental to marriage. I highly recommend that couples utilize their belief in God and the Word to have a long lasting marriage, however, it you are not a Christian, perhaps a well trusted therapist or written material from authors or therapist that have successful marriages would be useful guides to your marriage.
2. A couple that marries at a young age, must truly loves each other and can’t imagine life without each other. Marriage has to be for love and not a business plan, especially when marrying at a young age. Why? A young marriage will equal more years and time with a person. If its done for anything other than love, the couple will eventually lose their desire and commitment to the relationship, opting to stop putting in the work that it takes to stay in marriage. If true love exists, then it will be the foundation to rely on through bad times and challenges. Even if the couple loses their passion for one another, if love ever existed, even a little spark can be reignited.
3. An undying and cultivated friendship is a great foundation for a couple marrying young. Friendship provides the foundation for longevity in a marriage. Although having friends, and a great spouse is great for every couple, spending time cultivating the friendship with a spouse should be a priority for all couples, especially this type of couple. Your spouse must be your BFF and you should have fun doing things both people enjoy and getting to know each other more and more every day. Young adults some times have a tenancy to neglect their spouse as they add more duties to their lives, such as careers and parenthood. Having a great friendship requires appreciation for your spouse and you can not take your relationship for granted.
4. Passion, romance, intimacy and a great sex life are a must for any marriage. Not only is this a healthy factor for a lasting marriage but it fills our desire for physical and emotional intimacy. It also wards off any vultures that may try to take advantage of your need for intimacy. Here’s a surprising factor a young couple may encounter over time: The more years you put into your own marriage, the more attraction and appeal you draw from the opposite sex. There are those who think marriage will be a total turn off, however, many are surprised to learn that marriage is very attractive to the opposite sex, especially men that have longevity in a committed marriage. Therefore, it is important to make sure that intimacy and the drive for each other is a thriving factor in a early marriage. When you are constantly filling up at your own well, you will be less tempted to drink from other wells because you are satisfied.
5. A willingness to depart from all selfish desires. This means that we learn to compromise and give ourselves fully to the marriage, maturing and taking on the needs of the partnership over individual needs and desires. I personally think that you have to be very honest and evaluate your maturity level when it comes to marrying at a young age. There are very few people who are mature enough to approach marriage from a stance of selflessness at a young age but you should definitely be willing to adopt this trait. This is an area that you have to continue to grow in once you are married. Once you become one, you are not your own person any more. When couples want to continue living their singlehood lifestyles in marriage, it sets them up for emotional turmoil because it will eventually feel like they are still single instead of married. In turn a single mindset in marriage leads to more single activities and thinking. It is a marriage doomed for disaster. Besides, the whole point of marriage is to experience life with a lifelong partner.
When a couple marries at older ages they will definitely have more time to develop their careers, finances, self-identity, and figure out likes and dislikes in a significant other. They may even have the advantage of having loved and lost love and the lessons learned in between. The advantage of marrying young is when you are truly partners, you get to experience all of life’s joys, celebrations, trials and errors with a teammate. Having a partner through life’s journey makes the hard times easier and the fun times funnier.