Getting married young?


Hello CAFers,

   I was reading about marriage the other day, and I stumbled upon a couple different articles: 
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  I don't know how orthodox these sites are, but they essentially argue that it is better to get married younger, even if one isn't financially proficient or finished with school. They say that waiting for such things is the influence of materialism and modernism.

What do you think?

Thank you, and God bless! :slight_smile:


I think it depends a great deal on the individuals involved. Some are ready younger, even if all their ducks aren’t lined up in a row, and some aren’t.


Actually, the idea of “getting all your ducks in a row” before marriage is not a “modernist” concept at all. Teenagers getting married with no particular plan of how to support themselves and relying on parental largesse until they figure it out, is really not “traditional” and AFAIK the only prominent Christians doing that, are only able to do so because they sold out their privacy to a secular TV channel.

There is a lot of data out there that the average age of marriage has actually not changed too much, at least for men. Traditionally men were expected to be able to support a wife and family, so they did not marry until they could do so and that could be their mid-20s or even older. Women married slightly younger than men, but the only ones who married extremely young, as in 13, 14, etc., were the nobility who didn’t actually work, and I suppose some who “had to” get married.

Also, not everyone married. Many domestic servants were expected to remain bachelors or spinsters forever (the Mrs. given to most housekeepers in Great Houses was a courtesy title), and if they did marry they had to find other employment.

That doesn’t mean everyone has to wait for “total financial stability, $10K in the bank, all debts paid off”, etc. But the idea that fiscal prudence is some Modernist heresy is not “orthodox Catholic teaching” either.



Consider the attitude to marriage in Jane Austen’s novels. Everybody knows to the penny what the yearly income of eligible bachelors is, young people of no fortune may not marry at all unless they are very lucky, parents will put the kibosh on budding romances if they don’t think the other family is able to contribute enough materially (that’s a recurring theme), and it’s shocking and imprudent for a young couple to run off together and get married (see Fanny Price’s parents in Mansfield Park).

As somebody recently said, believing that young people should get married without a thought for how they will support their future children is to make Lydia and Wickham models for behavior.

I would actually argue that that traditional attitude is the natural product of a time when people expected marriage to immediately produce a series of children, so there would be no time to get the ducks in a row after getting married.

I think the belief that young couples are going to have time after they get married to get on their feet is the product of readily available, effective birth control.


I was reading this one

and came across the line:

“Everyone knows that society is crumbling due to high divorce rates and rampant sexual sins. The astonishing thing about this is that few Christians talk about one of the most elegant and time tested antidotes to divorce and sexual sins: getting married at an early age. The reason why Christians don’t like to talk about the importance and wisdom of getting married at an early age is because most Christians are caught up in the false ideologies of Liberalism and Modernism. This applies even to faithful Catholics who oppose contraception.”

And yet younger brides and grooms are more divorced prone…

This is somewhat complicated, because the rate of divorce goes down with increased age and then goes up again, but there is a sweet spot–and it’s not 19.

There are some graphs here:

“My data analysis shows that prior to age 32 or so, each additional year of age at marriage reduces the odds of divorce by 11 percent. However, after that the odds of divorce increase by 5 percent per year.”


The education leaving age has gone up. At 21 I was a clueless graduate where my grandparents had left school at 13 and would have had a much better idea of how the world works, a job and a better idea of what they want from life at 21.


For what it’s worth…my two sisters, both practicing Catholics, married young…both went through divorce and annulment…both remarried around age 30, and are still happily married many years later…


I don’t have much to contribute here but imo getting married young implies that the persons involved might not have experience with problems in a relationship compared to older couples (ranging from lack of passion to one losing income etc). I hold the opinion that one has to go through certain things in life before being committed in life, and someone marrying young MIGHT not experience that in the first place


I cannot believe current divorce statistics bear out that supposedly “time tested antidote” of marrying at an early age. And as far as getting married at that “early age” just to “do it” are the same folks who, I believe, are filling the in-baskets at their local Tribunal - at least if they even care to go for an annulment.


It would be very case by case…for some good, for others not. You can’t clump the whole of society into one neat package, it just doesn’t work.

Personally, I married at 25. Got to spend a few years single, learned to appreciate to idea of a partner in life. Been married go my wonderful wife over 36 years now.


Thank you all for your replies. I was not sure what to think of the issue, but I certainly agree that it changes on an individual basis. I see how there is a difference between prudence and modernism.

My parents always taught me to finish school first, start a job, get on my own feet, and then turn to relationships. For this reason, I am uninterested in a relationship until I am closer to the marrying age (mid-late 20s, personally). This attitude might be detrimental in some way, but I believe it is logical. It has kept me from casual dating, which I believe to be a waste of time.

God bless!


This response was very insightful! Thank you!

I’ve heard about Catholic circles where young couples are encouraged to marry, and I’ve just experienced this pressure myself. That is what led me to question the prudence of marrying young.


Don’t forget that back in the 1940s, 50s and even into the 60s, many people graduated from high school with skills that would allow them to actually get a job and be responsible at an earlier age. Their diplomas were actually worth something. High schools, recognizing that not all students were suitable for college, taught courses that trained secretaries, book keepers, plumbers, carpenters, etc., and graduates were expected to be able to read, write, and compute on grade level. Many went straight from high school into the military where they gained maturity and learned discipline and skills in a short time. My own mother graduated from high school in three years in the 1940s, graduated from local business college, and was working at the local newspaper when she met my dad and married at the age of 18. Many of her life long friends were trained as nurses during that same time period, and they also were working when they married age the ages of 18 or 19. What a change from today when many children don’t want to leave the comfortable nest of home. I’m not so sure that getting married younger now is the same as it would have been back then, but one sort of gets in trouble making generalizations. There are always exceptions.


I think at this point if Catholics don’t start to wake up and really practice their faith, get married (young or old who cares at this rate), and begin to multiply to pass their beliefs on that things will begin to look very bleak for Christians much sooner than most will realize. It might seemingly happen overnight as currently the older generation is propping the Church up financially and once they’re gone, sayonara to the Church as we know it. Even in large cities parishes are closing at an alarming rate and in rural dioceses, there might be 1 priest between 3 or 4 parishes.


I know it’s fun to talk smack about the younger generation (I talk plenty of trash about millennials, and I’m 33) but a huge part of this is the economy changing, not the “these kids today” being lazy or whatever. In the 40s-60s, a guy could leave high school and get a job on the line at Ford or Chevrolet, and make a perfectly respectable middle class income. He wasn’t ever going to be rich, but he was economically secure, had good health benefits, and a generous pension waiting for him at the end of the road. For those kids who were college bound, their tuition was a fraction of what it is today, because state governments heavily subsidized tuition with tax dollars. A guy graduating from college in the 50s was almost certainly not buried under massive student loans like he would be today. Those options just aren’t there anymore.

When my grandfather left the Navy in 1946, he got a job at GM. He had no special technical skills, other than being a decent carpenter, literate, and was a dependable guy who would show up on time, sober, ready to work. He stayed at GM till he retired in a variety of roles, and then drew a pension for longer than he actually worked there. That path is just not available to a 22 year old today.


My grandpa was a very similar guy–WWII vet and very soon after that went to work at a saw mill and stayed there for 40 years. That saw mill no longer exists.

I haven’t seen this myself, but I’ve heard that in the new mills, a log travels from one end of the building to the other, emerging as lumber with not a single human hand touching it. No doubt the guys who operate the machinery make a decent living–but there are a lot fewer of them than in the old style mill (where guys lost fingers).


I agree in principle with what you say, but there’s one other major factor: today’s and tomorrow’s people of child bearing ages are woefully ignorant of the Faith, not their fault, and hardly able to pass it on. Those propping the Church up now are overwhelming - in my experience - products of yesterday’s parochial school system. Catholic education has essentially collapsed - certainly here in the Northeast - and until that’s addressed no amount of church weddings or baby-making will be enough to address the needs of the Church in future decades when the parochial school veterans have passed.


This is true. In my experience having first entered Catholic school in the 90s, my old school peers today either don’t believe in God or are Easter and Christmas Catholics equally as ignorant as I once was and see no mortal sin in their actions of missing Mass nor in anything else they do. One I used to altar seve with even committed suicide. I believe some have the idea in the back of their minds that they may return one day but really, what is there for them to come back to? The same irreverent liturgy we grew up with with the same irrelevant folksy 70s hymns we all secretly hated and rejected by having stopped attending along with deficient homilies that never did catechize us to begin with. On top of this we all grew up secularized and today are bombarded by secular attacks in the media who knock the Church for the actions of phony churchmen trying to tear the Church down from within and which are never given proper responses in line with and by the Church (and unfortunately few Catholics understand that THEY are the Church!). We’re really at what should have been an unimaginable point and what I see as the mainstream within the Church today is the same thing I grew up with 20 years ago, as if we haven’t learned of the crisis yet?!


The idea that early marriage protects against sexual sins is wrong.

Marriage is not the silver bullet that protects people from sexual sins.

It’s like saying that the Catholic priest who are guilty of sexual abuse wouldn’t be if they were married.

A single man who is addicted to pornography will be after his wedding day, a married man who is addicted to pornography.

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