Thursday, 8 May 2014

On Getting Married Young:

A CBC In-depth study done in 2005 reports that the average age of brides in Canada in the year 2000 was 31.7 (with grooms being an average of 2 years older).  To me, this statistic is mind-blowing - I was 12 years younger than the 2000 national average when I married Brett!

A few things have rolled across my Pinterest feed lately that have rubbed me the wrong way.  One was a meme saying "Getting married at 22 is like leaving the party at 9:30", or "only 2% of young couples who get married will not get divorced" (I also happen to hate "statistics" that are passed around like facts without a cited source... it's the scientist in me).  These things remind me a lot of some of the feedback I was getting before Brett and I got married.  People would see my engagement ring and ask about the wedding, and when I was getting married.  Then would come the inevitable "How old are you??" question.  Upon finding out that I would only be 21 on my wedding day, I was met with one of two reactions.  The first (and nicest) went something like "Oh that is so great that you found 'the one' so soon.  You are so lucky. Congratulations!".  The second (and much less nice) would go more like "Don't you think that's kind of young?  What's the rush?"; sometimes they would even kindly add in "Well don't be surprised if you get divorced right away."  You would be shocked to know how many conversations I had with people  discussing "my imminent divorce".

If you Google "getting married young", there aren't many positive things that come up.  One of the articles I found is from The Huffington Post, where writer David Wygant states that "people should not get married until they hit the age of 30" and "people who get married young do so based on a fantasy".  I don't want you to think that this is just an attack on this blogger's point of view.  I certainly don't know him as a person, I don't know what led him to have his beliefs.  I simply just have a different view on the topic.  I feel that perhaps if young couples who are either married already or thinking about getting married had better support from their peers and communities, then maybe there would be a whole lot of better relationships out there.  Instead of saying to a young, engaged person "Don't be surprised if you get divorced right away" we should be talking to them and supporting them - making sure they know that they have support to be able to work through the rough patches and not just give up right away.

I am sure that there are many young couples who haven't thought through what getting married means, and maybe are jumping into it too fast.  But I would bet that there are also many mature couples who have done the same.  After all, if our average age of marriage in Canada is 30, it can't just be young couples making our divorce rates sky rocket (since most couples would be over 30).

I can't say why others feel the way they do about getting married young.  But I can say why it is working for Brett and I.

Yes, Brett and I were young when we first met and fell in love (I was 18 and he was 20).  We were immature - and still are in a lot of ways.  But over the past three and a half years of being together, we have been growing up and maturing together.  That growing up together, I think, has really strengthened our bond.

Also, I have seen older couples have a harder time combining their individual lives.  After being on your own for so long, and used to doing things your own way, it would be hard to compromise and build a new life together.  Brett and I basically started out together.  We didn't really have a lot of time to build all those separate habits.  We compromised right from the start - from who would do the laundry, to cooking meals, to not leaving the toilet seat up.

Ultimately, I believe that a marriage's success stems from the bride and groom's core beliefs about marriage, not from their ages.  Getting married isn't just about having a big wedding with all the bells and whistles - at least not to us it wasn't.  For a marriage to be truly successful, both the bride and groom must take their vows seriously.  You are promising to love someone in sickness and in health, for better or for worse and as long as you both should live - and you are making that promise in front of God and your family and friends.

Clearly I was taking the "solemn" part of solemn vows very seriously... Either that or trying not to cry!
I guess at the end of the day, I am going to end up sitting on the fence regarding this topic.  I don't think that there is a black and white, right or wrong answer to getting married young or waiting until you are older.  I feel like the focus on a couples age when they choose to get married reflects a bit of a flaw in our society.  Why are we so focused on surface things like age, when we should be looking at something deeper?  Perhaps it is this close focus on the superficial (like age, money, and good looks) that is causing a lot of the marital issues that many people are facing today.  We should instead be looking deeper; at things like morals, beliefs, and values - for these are the true pillars that a marriage will rest upon.

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