The Case for Young Marriage


Here’s a link to an excellent article about the case for young marriage, published in this month’s Christianity Today:

Hope the link works.

Christianity Today is the premiere magazine for evangelical Protestants, but they also publish articles by and for Catholics, the Orthodox, mainline Protestant denominations, charismatic Protestant denominations, and non-denominational Christians. Almost every issue has some article by a Catholic, or pro-Catholic Protestant.

I would be interested in your reactions to the article. My husband and I are supporters of young marriage, having married at ages 21 and 22. Our daughter married at the age of 22 to her long-time boyfriend who was 25.


What I find humerous is that once upon a time age 22 was considered “old” to be getting married! Funny how persepectives can change. We were married at age22 and 23–celebrated 15 years of marriage this year!


I married young too (22) and we just celebrated 12 years last week. One thing good about marrying young is that you are less set in your ways. A friend of mine recenly married for the first time at 39 and is haveing a terrible time adjusting tomarried life in regards to getting used to another persons habits and just regular daily life.


What I find humerous is that once upon a time age 22 was considered “old” to be getting married!

Too true :slight_smile: .

I’ll be honest, I’ve seen quite a few young marriages end very badly. And the statistics do show that if you get married under the age of 25 you chances of getting divorced are about 10% higher than the national average.

That being said, a girl I graduated high school with just got married June of this year. She and her husband were only twenty years old (couldn’t even have champagne at the wedding :stuck_out_tongue: ). I was suprised, to be sure, when I heard she was getting married so soon, but in the back of my mind I thought, “If anyone can make it work, she can.”


I have thought this for a long time as I watch the children of friends succumb to the temptations to have premarital sex – we humans mature biologically much earlier than our society deems appropriate for marriage. The emotional maturity problem is probably the biggest drawback to early marriage, but it could be overcome with good catechesis and support from the faith community.

Not to put all the blame on men, and I certainly don’t have the answers, but it seems the education might need to start with them. I went to college in the early and mid-80s, and the Catholic young men I knew seemed to be content to remain bachelors forever, while I and other females started to worry about our biological clocks ticking. It was even difficult for me personally (and I wasnt ugly and didn’t have bad breath!) to find any of these men who would see me as a potential date. OK, I’m sort of venting now, sorry. It was a complicated time, after the first wave of the women’s movement and then the conservative movement – sometimes one never really knew what to do, and didn’t feel free to follow one’s own heart for fear of being labeled negatively one way or the other.


Not to put all the blame on men, and I certainly don’t have the answers, but it seems the education might need to start with them. I went to college in the early and mid-80s, and the Catholic young men I knew seemed to be content to remain bachelors forever, while I and other females started to worry about our biological clocks ticking.

:slight_smile: You reminded me of a theory of an old friend of mine.

“At about 12 or 13, men lose their brains. It takes them 10 years to grown it back, and 5 years to learn how to use it again.” :smiley:

No offense to any guys out there, that was just something she told me while were were gossiping instead of working on history homework.


That article is brilliant.

One thing we Catholics have in our favor is that we have always been serious about premarital education. Bishop Olmstead of Phoenix has reworked the program and is increasing the requirement from six to nine months!

I am going to have to put this one in my personal archive. :thumbsup:


Very interesting article, thanks for sharing it! I get so sick of hearing people say “Oh you’re so young to be thinking about marriage!” When they know that I’m 23.
I’ve been with my boyfriend for 4.5 years, he’s 24. And it really does make me angry when people who obviously don’t know our relationship say that people should wait until their 30s to get married.
Not all older people are mature enough to have a successful marriage either. Just because you’re older does not mean that automatically you’ll know what you’re doing with your spouse and will understand each other better.

I really agree with the one poster who said that living single longer can actually make it harder to get along, as you’re more set in your single ways, and used to living by yourself. That makes a lot of sense to me.


“The ink of the scholar is holier than the blood of the martyr”

  • Islamic Proverb

**That is the most ignorant thing i have ever read!

If the ink was inspired by the Holy Spirit and is Sacred Scripture or Inspired writing i would agree, but many so called “Scholars” are nothing more than highly educated fools.

Any religion that is forced on it’s people by threat and coercion is a false religion!

**Islamic terrorists are the true brilliant scholars, they want innocent victims, deceived by their lies, to shed their martyr’s blood. The ink of a coward is a lot cheaper. **

**Sounds exactly like the intellectual University scholars, the"brights", the elites of our declining US society!! “Let the stupid fools shed their blood to protect my right to denounce their ignorance!”
i was married at 22 and just had my 30th anniversary with 3 incredible children, maybe marrying early is not so bad.

Sancta Maria, Mater Dei,Ora Pro Nobis Peccatoribus!



Well I married at 18 (hubby was 19) and we celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary last Feb. My best friend married at 17 (her hubby was 20) and they will be celebrating their 20th anniversary this month. So how’s that for really young? :wink: I do believe in younger marriage. I think its much easier to “grow up” together than to learn to live with someone set in their ways.


When I was younger I didn’t believe in young marriage, even though my parents, grandparents, etc. had all married young. A few of my friends either married or got engaged by the time I was 21-22 and I told them all they were foolish and that they’d live to regret it. As it turned out, my wife & I married at 23 & 22 and I’m thrilled that we did. Not only did we have that extra time together, but we started our families younger and were able to grow together sooner than friends & family who married later.

One thing that’s been big among the people close to us is partying, traveling and having 5-year-plans (i.e., 5 years of partying & traveling, 5 years of playing house, then 5 years of having 2 kids–one boy, one girl, etc.). I admire them for having things planned out so well, but pity them for having to live it. A lot of them turned their backs on us for several years while we were making our “irresponsible” choices (in other words, not partying, not traveling, raising our son and having our daughters). Now they’re struggling to play catch-up. A very small number of them have realized that the partying isn’t all it was cracked up to be, and it’s certainly not what life’s all about. Others are struggling to produce that first kid, let alone the picture-perfect one of each they’d planned out in their PDA’s.

Sure, we didn’t get to take all the trips, buy the new car every 2-3 years or drink until we puked every weekend through our 20’s. We were stuck going to baptisms, kindergarten graduations and First Communions…you know, those silly, worthless things you can’t look back on as fondly as you can passing out in the middle of a bar marathon. :rolleyes:

I pray and wish the best for my friends who stumbled and jetted their way through their 20’s & early 30’s and are doing everything they can now to get those things they scorned and scoffed at during their first couple 5-year plans. And even though I might make light of it, I’ll always do what I can to support them.

One thing I’ve noticed about pretty much all of them is that they all lived with their spouses before getting married (a couple even had “trial marriages,” and referred to them as such while they were in the middle of them). I always looked at that as cheating in a way, partly because you’re cheating yourselves out of discovering the best parts of married life together. If you’re just shacking up, there’s no worry, no commitment, and a lot times no relationship after a couple months. Without that commitment, there’s no real reason to work out any big problems. At the time, I had a few people tell me that my wife and I should try living together before sealing the deal so we’d know whether we were really meant to be together. I think some of these suggestions were intended to break us apart, but others seriously thought it would benefit us. I still thank God we didn’t.


One of the variations to this is not just waiting until you are older to get married, but waiting for several years to have children.

Often this is done by using The Pill.

We know personally of couples who did this, with very tough outcome.

My husband’s brother married in his mid 20s. He and his wife waited for ten years until he finished his Ph.D and got his dream job (quite well-paid) before trying to start a family. She was on the Pill.

Well, then they couldn’t have children.

No one can say whether the ten years on the Pill made the difference. It sounds like both of them had some physiological problems, including a low sperm count for him. Again, did the long wait influence this?

At any rate, they waited until they were in their mid-30s and several failed IVFs before going to the adoption route. That meant that they were really pushing the age limit, as most agencies, private or otherwise, don’t give babies to couples in their 40s.

They made it harder by requesting specifically an American white baby, with fair features, and no disabilities. Well, that’s OK. It’s better to be honest with yourself rather than not be able to bond with a baby.

It took a few more years ago before they were able to arrange an open adoption from a teen mom, and they paid her around $20,000 for her expenses, and spent the first six months of the baby’s life waiting to see if the mother would change her mind and take the baby back. (She didn’t.)

A few years later, on the last day before the 40-year-old age cutoff, they found another little boy baby and did another open adoption. Same tense wait, but again, the mom didn’t change her mind.

Anyway, this was pretty tough.

My daughter and SIL are kind of going this route and it worries me. But they only want to wait for at least three years. That’s not ten years, and I hope everything will turn out OK for them.

My husband and I conceived our children when we were in our 20s, healthy as horses. We regret not having more children, but we weren’t Catholic then and didn’t know any better.


That’s too bad your friends lived their twenties to an extreme. I know some who did too, but it is possible to live a modified version of what you describe and not be miserable. It’s not one or the other. Some people just don’t meet their significant other at a young age.

My friends and I got jobs and an apartment in a city after college graduation and had the best time in our twenties. Yes, we went to bars every weekend and yes we drank, but we didn’t puke. We had a really good time - met a whole lot of people and did a whole lot of sightseeing, mall shopping, concert going, etc. It’s not all bad!

We all managed to get married to decent people that we met along the way. Heck, we figured we were at the bar and we were good catches, why couldn’t there be guys at the bar to marry? Lo and behold there were. We all went on to have lots of kids, and most of us did not shack up prior to marriage, either.

I suppose the difference between us and your friends is that we didn’t scorn and scoff at being married and having kids, we were just on a different time schedule. So if someone hasn’t met their match and they are over 20, they should not despair.


The thing that bothers, or rather disappoints me about our friends is that they made the partying and whatnot their main goal in life. They envisioned their lives as a long episode of Friends (although, granted, they pretty much traded in a bar for a coffee shop, and cheap beer for mocha lattes). Some of them are finally realizing that you eventually have to grow up. Others are clinging to the party mentality. My wife and I did plenty of the same, but we got over it about the time we said “I do,” and realized there were much bigger thrills in life.


I think you’ve got your answer right there. Getting married and starting a family is an expensive prospect. When you’re single, you can have roommates, rent a flat, take out student loans, work in a low paying job, etc. without a problem. But by the time kids come along, you have to have your finances in order.

In the early 19th century, people started working full-time around age 14-16. So getting married at 18 (for the man) wasn’t that big of a deal. Then secondary education pushed the age to start work to 18, so people started getting married later, from about 18-22. Then in the 80’s everyone decided they had to go to college, so people were 22 when they started working, so marriage was pushed into the mid 20’s. Now, to get ahead, you need a master’s degree, so most young people I know don’t really start work until 26 or so (or, worse, they work for a few years then go back to school until 28-30), which has pushed the average age back even further.

Sure there are some people that perpetually date and don’t want to “setting down” or who “can’t find the right person” - I’m just dealing with averages up there.

In effect, society has continually delayed the start of adulthood by requiring increased amounts of education. This has had the effect of delaying marriage and children until later in life.


My wife and I married in our teens and have a grandchild now. There are many things that are good about marrying young – several that have been mentioned here. I do not regret getting married so young; life has been good. There are pitfalls, though, that are not really discussed in the article.

If you marry very young (before 22), I think you have to realize that you have not completely grown up yet. You’re still developing as a person. We all continue to grow and change, but not like adolescence. That is a time of tumultuous change and radical switches of thought for many people.

We’re not the same person at 48 that we were at 18. The danger, in my experience, is that both people on the marriage will change a lot and if they do not continue to move in the same direction, they will find themselves with a stranger at some point. Children, jobs, mortgages, sickness, sports, bills, parents, sibling, and many other day-to-day things keep you busy when you are starting out a family. You can become so busy that you forget you are still figuring out the world and your place in it. This is true at forty, but very much more so at twenty.

There is a deep sorrow if one wakes up and sees that the young couple that was is now two different people – even if they are loving and committed to stay together – that have both changed so much that they have little in common except the children. If one, or both, of them has gone in such a radically different path then the one they envisioned years ago and a wide gulf – an uncrossable chasm of words that cannot be said and words that have been uttered – exists between them.

It can happen to anyone, but I do think the younger you are when you marry, the more change the two of you will experience as a couple over the years.

Grow together or grow apart. I don’t think there’s an alternative.


Thanks for posting that article, I found it to be very good and insightful. The author touched on some of the same concerns/thoughts I have had or currently have now.

I personally think it is great for people to marry shortly after college rather than wait until they are in their 30s, but ultimately their is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way and what is good for one person/couple may not be good for another. I feel like I have been ready to settle down for a while now, but I just haven’t met any girls to pursue a relationship with yet, but I am sure things will fall into place eventually. Young marriages clearly can work out well, I have some friends who married between 19-22 and they are all still together ranging from 6-12 years now. Society seems to put constraints on the age range you should get married. Many are unfairly criticized - saying they are too young to get married or if they are still single and in their 30s.

I have included some excerpts below that I found interesting…

*"Another indicator of our shifting sentiment about the institution is the median age at first marriage, which has risen from 21 for women and 23 for men in 1970 to where it stands today: 26 for women and 28 for men, the highest figures since the Census Bureau started collecting data about it. That’s five additional, long years of peak sexual interest and fertility. (And remember, those numbers are medians: for every man marrying at 22, there’s one marrying for the first time at 34.)

Evangelicals tend to marry slightly earlier than other Americans, but not by much. Many of them plan to marry in their mid-20s.Yet waiting for sex until then feels far too long to most of them. And I am suggesting that when people wait until their mid-to-late 20s to marry, it is unreasonable to expect them to refrain from sex. It’s battling our Creator’s reproductive designs. The data don’t lie. Our sexual behavior patterns—the kind I documented in 2007 in Forbidden Fruit—give us away. Very few wait long for sex. Meanwhile, women’s fertility is more or less fixed, yet Americans are increasingly ignoring it during their 20s, only to beg and pray to reclaim it in their 30s and 40s."*

“…many young Christian women are being left with a dilemma: either commence a sexual relationship with a decent, marriage-minded man before she would prefer to—almost certainly before marriage—or risk the real possibility that, in holding out for a godly, chaste, uncommon man, she will wait a lot longer than she would like. Plenty will wait so long as to put their fertility in jeopardy. By that time, the pool of available men is hardly the cream of the crop—and rarely chaste. I know, I know: God has someone in mind for them, and it’s just a matter of time before they meet…”

This is something I find challenging in remaining abstinent and at this rate, even if I met my future wife tomorrow, I would probably be until 30 based on my age, so it is not easy.

It is tough when you meet great girls who don’t or won’t abstain from premarital sex yet have so many other desirable ‘characteristics’ for lack of a better term.

"Abstinence is not to blame for our marital crisis. But promoting it has come at a cost in a permissive world in which we are increasingly postponing marriage. While I am no fan of the demographic realities I outlined earlier, one thing I will remember is that while sex matters, marriage matters more. "

Good point made here.


I just married this year in January at the age of 22, and my husband 24. I do not think it was too young. We are now 23 and 25 and having our first :@ in October. Ok, finances might not be so great for a college graduate and a PhD-student, but we will manage. I do plan to go back to studies next year, if all goes well. In 3years I have my MA and he his PhD. The baby wanted to come now, so why not to meet the challenge. That’s what I thought anyway :smiley:

Happy mommy to be :heaven:


I wish I could have married young. I’m 27 (an old maid according to my family), and all my other friends were married by 23. But apparently God has another path for me (which is hopefully religious life). It just gets lonely when everyone under 50 in Mass is married, except you. And they expect to help at the Church becasue you are “single and have all this free time.” And the smug marrieds think they are more important than you. Or get the personal questions about why you are not married (the best one is “so, do you have a deformity we can’t see?”).
All of you who married young are lucky, you know what your life is going to be. I still don’t have a clue.


For all of the debate about early vs. later marriage, I really think it comes down to a case by case basis.

We all know/have known some people who are just not in a place mentally or spiritually for marriage until their 30s and up.

We also all know people who have been ready since they were 20.

We can’t put marriage in a box labeled “25 and up.” It just doesn’t work like that. Everyone’s vocational box has a different age written on it.

Please excuse the figurative language. :slight_smile:

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