Marrying Young After College: How Soon Is Too Soon?

By Katie Bedard
Elm Staff Writer

Though marriage for people leaving high school and in their early twenties is becoming less common than a few decades ago, it’s not too unusual to know someone who’s tying the knot before they can legally drink. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s current population survey, 8.9 percent of people are married by age 21.

For people between the ages of 18 and 21, it might seem like the person they are with is the one. It might even be impossible to imagine being single again if you are in a committed relationship. Despite what people might feel, it’s important to remember that there’s a difference between eternal love and a “first love.”

“First love” is a term used to describe the first long-term relationship that a person experiences. Most of the time, first love happens late in high school or within college. A lot of times these first loves are so intense that the people involved might feel like they could spend the rest of their lives together. A hundred years ago, this first love would have become the only love, as marriage that young was more of the norm.

As society has shifted from emphasizing marriage to pursuing a career, people are more likely to consider their future as it pertains to college and job seeking before marriage. When that happens, people experiencing their first love wait longer before deciding to get married. A couple that had been together through high school might decide to finish college before marriage. They would be waiting another four years, and in that time, especially if they go to different schools, they might begin to question if they want to spend the rest of their lives with this other person.

An important aspect to marriage is planning for the future. Marriage might, at times, be depicted as a fairytale affair that ends in the long awaited “happily ever after.” However what this idea neglects to mention is what a married life actually entails. It’s not waking up to singing birds and never arguing with your spouse, it’s learning to make compromises and thinking about the future for two rather than one.

“The language we use implies that [getting married] is the right thing to do. I think it’s really sad in a way, when there are so many ways of finding success,” said Helen Croydon, author of “Screw the Fairytale,” in an interview with the online newspaper, The Telegraph.

Forever might not be as romantic as one thinks when newfound responsibilities come into the picture. These responsibilities often come in the form of financial issues, children, and everyday chores. For a lot of people, they might not realize the extent to how draining these responsibilities could be for some time, and by then, divorce seems like the only way out.

Figuring out whether or not a relationship can stand the test of time and the responsibilities of a married life has become much easier than before. It has become common for people to live together before getting married, letting people see the sides of their partner they had not experienced before.

“Living together is not full of the stuff you see in rom-coms (it can often seem like The Break Up), and university studies show that believing movies’ portrayal of ideal relationships can increase your chance for dissatisfaction in your relationships,” said Mona Lisa Macalino, author of “Five Reasons You Shouldn’t Say I Do Before Living Together First,” on the online magazine Your Tango. “If you can love each other even after realizing that it’s not always going to fun, chances are, you will be in better shape for your marriage.”

Despite everything that’s against early marriage, there are a lot cases in which it does work. In the end, it really depends on the people involved, as well as their situation. No couple is the same as the other. For students deciding whether the person they’re with is their forever, think it through first. Remember that as much as one must trust their heart, they must also trust their head.

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