are people waiting too long to marry?

so yesterday on my Facebook page i posted this quote:

“Most young Americans no longer think of marriage as a formative institution, but rather as the institution they enter once they think they are fully formed.”

it’s just one of many hmmm moments i had while reading the article The Case for Early Marriage.  the article is decidedly Christian.  well, it was published in Christianity Today, so…duh.  but even if that is not your particular belief system, i think it still makes some interesting points that are applicable to the world at large.  or at small at least.

there’s a lot in the article i want to talk about, but unless i want to drive off my 10’s of readers, i should probably space that crap out.

so let’s just deal with that one quote in question form.

1.  do you think waiting until you are “fully formed” to get married is a good idea?  the best idea?  not a good idea at all?

2.  are people waiting too long to get married?  why or why not?

3.  what do you think of the statistical fact that people who get married in their early 20’s tend to have a lower divorce rate?  why do you think that might be?

4.  for those who are older and single, if you had had the opportunity to get married at 20, 21, 22…would you have or did you consciously decide to wait?

oh yeah, i’m getting all up in your bidnezz.

i’m still in the process of forming my thoughts about the full implication of the article, but i suspect my conclusions may not be popular.  we shall see.

p.s.  you should really go like my Facebook page.  it increases your IQ by 8-12% and makes you significantly more attractive.  if you already have, congratulations, you are gorgeous and smart.  also, i will posting more on it starting this week.  stuff you won’t see here or on the Twitters so, you know, more me in your life.  who doesn’t want that?don’tanswerthat.

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35 comments on “are people waiting too long to marry?

  1. Jeremy says:

    I think that there needs to be a balance between waiting until you are “fully formed” and getting married early. I was married at 22 and my wife divorced me at 25. Her biggest reason was that she was always acting the part she thought I wanted her to play. Apparently, I never got to really know who she was.

    I don’t think you need to be fully formed, but there does need to be some form of maturity, or a willingness to work towards that maturity, where you can be truly honest and communicate (or work on communication). No one will ever be perfect or perfectly ready to get married, but you habsolutely have to be willing to stick with it and work your ass off to make it work. Throwing in the towel just because is the worst possible thing to do. It destroys people.

    Don’t rip me too hard for any logical wrongs I have. It’s still early.

  2. Jen says:

    I haven’t read the article, so I’m not sure what it says, but I always get puzzled when people say we’re “waiting” to get married. As if I could get married tomorrow if I wanted to. I have to find someone I actually WANT to marry…and who actually WANTS to marry me. People talk about it as if it’s just easy peasy. I’ll be 33 tomorrow, I’ve dated A LOT, and I’ve yet to find either. (and not for lack of trying)

    But to answer your questions:

    1. I think there’s some merit in knowing who you are as a person before you get married. Another person cannot complete you, and I think if you go into a marriage with that mindset, you’re setting yourself up for disaster.

    2. Again, I hate that “waiting” question. See above.

    3. Again, I think there’s something to be said for knowing who you are first. Or at the very least, getting that carefree/party attitude 20 somethings seem to have these days, out of your system. I think of a friend of mine who got married straight out of college (22 years old) and was divorced within 2 years because his ex-wife thought it more important to bar hop then be at home with her husband. I definitely think there’s something to be said for getting that stuff out of your system.

    4. I didn’t have the opportunity to get married that young, but I can say, without a doubt, I was a dumbass back then, and if I had had the opportunity, it probably wouldn’t have turned out well. But that’s just me.

    • janakaye says:

      yeah all of this, Jen. I have the same questions, and I’ll actually be 33 in October, so you’re not alone. good stuff.

    • Lynne says:

      I’m with you on this. My first thought was, “Yeah, I’ll just pull this guy I share a mutual love and respect for, and physically and emotionally attracted to, right out of my back pocket and get hitched.”

      It’s not exactly easy to find someone you want to spend the rest of your life with. My parents got divorced seven years ago and it ripped me to pieces. If I have the wondrous ability to even snag a boyfriend, I’d wait for marriage primarily because I don’t want to end up like my parents. And if I have those kind of doubts, then I probably shouldn’t be marrying that guy in the first place.

      I also question these statistics about relating when people get married and when they get divorced. Especially since there isn’t a specific study cited. I don’t want to discredit the author, as he has a PhD in this stuff, but still. It’s an article online/magazine, but so many of us are getting our information from the internet these days and it’s so easy to just make up whatever you want. The same thing goes for studies that prove that people who live together before marriage are more likely to divorce. I haven’t seen anyone come forward with a proper journal article on that one. If anyone knows of that one, I’d love to read it.

  3. hiddinsight says:

    I was married at 21 years old 15 years ago today. I always thought it was a great idea to get married young because you end up growing up together and forming your lives really tightly. However, it hasn’t been perfect. Would I do it again? YES!!

  4. 1. Fairly easy. I don’t think you’re ever fully formed. And if you were, I think marriage will change you anyway. That would be a stupid reason to get married. I do think marrying right after high school or shortly thereafter could be a risk. After you turn 22, changes in your life are less drastic.
    2. My non-christian friends think I’m marrying too early. They don’t want to tie themselves down. As I make a decision also influenced by my beliefs, I believe I’ll get happier committing to one person than seeing what’s out there and wait for someone who’ll take my craziness and pickiness. When people are ready and they can see what to expect from each other and themselves, I think marriage is the best option.
    3. It could be a result of non-christian beliefs of seeing what’s out there, instead of making a decision that you yourself are broken and marriage is not a way to get out of that, but rather a way of making it together. If you keep looking for the perfect picture, disappointment can be rather tough. Tim Keller’s book tells how the ‘greatest percentage of divorces happen to those who marry before the age of eighteen, who dropped out of high school and who have a baby together before marriage’. That is so much easier a number to comprehend than the divorce rates of older people.

  5. Mrs Mich Mac says:

    It took me until I was 26 to get married because I had a hard time meeting anyone. And then suddenly I had met the man of my dreams and was married 13 months later. Since I wasn’t married at the younger end of my 20’s I can’t speak to if that would work or not BUT looking back at how I was back then? I’m really glad that my husband didn’t come along until later. I didn’t know who I was at 21. Personality wise I didn’t know know who I was, I did a lot of self discovery in my early 20’s. I can’t imagine putting so much self discovery on top of being married! Sometimes I see very young people get married and I cringe thinking how much more they will have to go through to keep that marriage growing as they grow into themselves as well. Mind you a ton of my cousins get married generally between 19-21 and they are all still married.
    Or my parents for example. Married at 19 & 21 and had their first two kids (twins) not even a year after being married and had 2 more after that. My parents are finally discovering who they are as people/individuals after all the kids have left home and now in their 50’s. I so did not want to wait until that age to figure out who I am.
    (On a whole other tangent, don’t even get me started on being a Christian and not being married young! :P)
    Anyways, there’s my tidbit!

  6. Haley k says:

    I think this is an interesting topic, and I’m particularly surprised/ interesting in the stat that young marriages have lower divorce rate; i’ve never heard that before.

    1. Perhaps it’s just verbage but I think it a error to say we are ever ‘fully formed’. I am 22 and a newlywed. Obviously I’ve got some growing to do, but I also already have some ‘fully formed’ opinions and habits, I think marry young while still formative can be beneficial in that you haven’t been set in your ways so long that any disagreement of your habits/ rituals is a personal attack. Still young and trying to figure out how to do simple things like budget, meal plan, entertain guests, plan trips, etc I’m learning to do these things with my husband instead of trying to mix 2 diff ‘fully formed’ lives, or worse, one beating out the other’s.

    • “Still young and trying to figure out how to do simple things like budget, meal plan, entertain guests, plan trips, etc I’m learning to do these things with my husband instead of trying to mix 2 diff ‘fully formed’ lives, or worse, one beating out the other’s.” ~~ It has it’s ups and downs. I see both sides of the coin. Also very intrigued by the stat regarding younger people having lower divorce rates.

  7. benji says:

    you should have children first and then get married. 😮

  8. hopefulleigh says:

    I read that article the other day and have lots of thoughts on it, as well. I’m very curious to hear your opinion!

    If I’d had the opportunity to get married in my early 20s, I would have taken it. No doubt about it. I would have also ended up divorced. No doubt about that either. Though I couldn’t have envisioned being in my 30s and still single, it’s been good for me. I used my early 20s as a time to get some stuff straight about myself and some skewed ideas I had about marriage. I would have gone into it viewing my husband as my everything, my savior, plus a bunch of unhealthy expectations. While I’m more than ready to get married now and there have been frustrating times in my singleness, I’m glad things worked out the way that they did. I’m better for it.

  9. Haley k says:

    I just read this article and it put this topic in context of sexuality. This is something i have thought a lot about. I have noticed in the conservative Christian contexts I have been in a hyper- sensitivity to sexuality, or lack thereof. The article’s listed ‘opposition’ to early marriage as marrying for sex is something I’ve seen more than once, almost always beginning marriages that have huge problems right off the bat.
    So if we believe what the bible says about sex in marriage, but marrying for sex is obviously a falacy, what’s the solution? How should the church deal with sex to honor god and not make sex crazed virgins eager to marry the first person to turn them on?

    • Jeremy says:

      This is a really great question. I think the big thing is that many churches don’t really explain why purity matter. Why God wants us to be pure. They tend to vocalize it as God says to be pure, so do it. That is not the worst argument, but there are reasons that God said that. There’s no focus on what misplace sexuality actually does to people.

      I think that so many churches also put marriage up on a huge pedestal. A friend of mine almost lost his job as a high school youth pastor because he wasn’t married and they wanted someone married, with kids. They skip over the verses when Paul talks about being single. Or when Jesus said being single was good. Marriage is great, but it is not the end all be all of life.

  10. G Fresh says:

    I’ve wanted to be married since I was probably 15 or 16 so yes; if I had had the opportunity to get married in my early 20s, I definitely would have taken it. Would I have ended up divorced? I don’t know, I’d like to think that I wouldn’t have, but I know it would have been difficult at times, but what marriage isn’t? I did a lot of maturing in my 20s like everybody does, but I would have been maturing along with someone else which is completely different from maturing by oneself so who knows what that would have looked like? I know I would be a completely different person than I am now, I’m sure, but that’s just not how things shook out.

    That’s not to say that one type of maturing (alone or along with someone) is better than the other, but that having to be “fully formed” before being “worthy” of having a spouse is a ridiculous notion in my opinion.

    My younger brother and his wife got married when he was 23 and she was, I believe 21. I don’t think that he was any more mature or “fully formed” at 23 than I was, he just met the right one early. 9 years later and they’re still very happily married and have 4 amazing sons whereas I just turned 35 and haven’t had a girlfriend in 4 years or a date in 2.

    It’s not because I don’t want to be married, not because I’m not trying to meet someone, not because I “chose” to be single longer in order to get some wild oats sowing out of my system (still a virgin), but because for whatever reason it’s just not my time yet.

    The fact of the matter is, it may never be. I hope that’s not the case, but I’m learning/accepting that my life isn’t gonna start if/when I get married; it’s already going so I have to choose to live it.

  11. First off, that was a long article!

    1. do you think waiting until you are “fully formed” to get married is a good idea? the best idea? not a good idea at all?

    I think a few people before me have stated this as well but I don’t believe one needs to be ‘fully formed’ before getting married. How many parents are fully ready to be parents? How many people starting that first day as a nurse or fully ready to be a nurse? You learn, you grow, you make mistakes. But, also like some others stated, there is something to be said, I guess, about there being a fine balance. The person becoming the nurse had to get schooling first. Maybe a poor example but that’s what I look at it like.

    2. are people waiting too long to get married? why or why not?

    It’s interesting. On the one hand, having lived in the south for awhile and still having friendships with several people there, I feel like a lot of my friends kind of married at a young age. Even in my circle of friends (yes, largely evangelical Christian friends) I feel like they got married at a somewhat early age (18-22). With that said, I do have a handful of single friends the same age as I (though this number is dwindling). I do think the economic and parental reasons play in to this. We do hear ‘finish school’ or ‘get a good job’ or ‘there’s plenty of time for that’ or a handful of other reasons why we shouldn’t get married right now.

    3. what do you think of the statistical fact that people who get married in their early 20′s tend to have a lower divorce rate? why do you think that might be?

    Again, I feel like several of my friends married young and I am watching some of them get married and/or divorced for the second time already. I’m 30 (and still a virgin, so I’m not sowing oats or trying to get the ‘fun stuff’ out of the way either.) So I’m not sure where that statistic is pulled from but, on the other hand, I do have other friends who are high school sweethearts and have been together for 15-17-20 years! You learn together and grow together.

    Having not been married myself, I’m not sure how much I can speak in to this but having watched successful and unsuccessful marriages, I do feel like age maybe doesn’t have to do with it so much as maturity and how quickly the marriage happens. Hear me out, there are exceptions to every rule but I do feel the ‘sex’ aspect (possibly?) ties in to this. People meet someone, they get along, they date for 6 months, get married in 6 months. And then… you know what can happen. But, this has worked out for some people too. Exceptions to the exceptions to the exceptions.

    4. for those who are older and single, if you had had the opportunity to get married at 20, 21, 22…would you have or did you consciously decide to wait?

    I started planning my wedding at the age of 6. Over the years, the people in my wedding and the colors and the little details and the songs all changed. I always imagined that I would meet someone in my teens and get married right out of high school. I wanted to work in the ministry alongside my future husband and have a lot of kids. (What homeschooling kid doesn’t want that? ;)) But my teens came and went. Then my early 20’s came and went. Then my late 20’s. And now, here I am. I think Matt stated it pretty well when he said that “I did a lot of maturing in my 20s like everybody does, but I would have been maturing along with someone else which is completely different from maturing by oneself so who knows what that would have looked like? I know I would be a completely different person than I am now, I’m sure, but that’s just not how things shook out.” It’s not even an option on the table, so I’m not sure if I would change things because here I am. However, parts of me do wish that if I were going to get married, it would’ve been a few years ago.

    I am enjoying my life. I have gotten to travel and see the world (this fall I’m heading back to London for the third time in three years.) I’ve gone to Nashville and recorded an album. I’ve gotten to do mission’s work. I’ve gotten to serve my friends and family and the local church. While I think all of those things would have been enjoyed with someone by my side, I also got to enjoy them as a single woman. I am learning that marriage may not be something that will happen for me. If not, I know I’ll be okay and that God has something else up His sleeve. He is good. Even in moments of not feeling that way, I know I can’t rely on my feelings but on His word and what I know to be truth. I am learning to be content but not complacent! 🙂

  12. asoulwalker says:

    I doubt I will ever be fully formed. I still have no idea who I am. The amount of “habits” I have that others think are ingrained preferences I have personally chosen is astounding. Most of these “habits” I care nothing about in the slightest and would drop in a heartbeat for someone else.

    Also, that kid in the picture is going to kill someone. It is only a matter of time. He scares me.

  13. Abby says:

    1. do you think waiting until you are “fully formed” to get married is a good idea? the best idea? not a good idea at all?

    I don’t like the vagueness of the idea. I am a perfectionist and would probably delay marriage to fix or develop myself more. Instead, I choose to evaluate my readiness for marriage on more specific areas like (but not limited to):

    – Ongoing personal and spiritual growth
    – Practicing forgiveness – giving, asking for, and accepting
    – Building healthy relationships with friends and family members

    2. are people waiting too long to get married? why or why not?

    Depends why they are waiting. I think many people wait too long to intentionally pursue or work toward the goal of marriage. I don’t think a healthy marriage is something that just falls into your lap one day.

    3. what do you think of the statistical fact that people who get married in their early 20′s tend to have a lower divorce rate? why do you think that might be?

    I don’t know. Possibly older singles become more set in our ways (read: selfish). I’ve lived on my own for over 6 years and enjoy the freedom that comes with it but I’ve noticed that I sometimes dislike adjusting to other people when I have to share space with them for a few days.

    4. for those who are older and single, if you had had the opportunity to get married at 20, 21, 22…would you have or did you consciously decide to wait?

    I consciously chose to wait because I didn’t feel ready for marriage yet. I have also been intentionally selective about dating. I cultivated a “default setting” of not being in a relationship. I found ways to have a full life that I really enjoyed most of the time and told myself I didn’t want to rearrange it for just anyone. I don’t want to be seen as a girl who put my life on hold until the right guy came along to “complete me.” *gag*.

  14. Beth says:

    I’ve got a good one for you. I was engaged at 23 and broke off the engagement. The guy was awesome in every way, I just felt overwhelmed and had a lot of growing up to do. In addition, it took me another few (many) years to understand the definition (mine) of love. Ended up getting married to the same guy I was engaged to at 23, but not until I was 31. We have now been very happily married for 14 years. I think it most likely that
    we would not still be together had we gotten married on the first “go-round”.

  15. Robin says:

    I got married right out of high school. I only spent 4 hrs with the guy before he proposed, and I KNEW I had met my soul mate! We got married 6 months later and will celebrate our 31st anniversary at the end of this month. I think part of why it worked is I grew up in a family where I had a lot of responsibility and had to actually “grow up”, I was already beyond wanting to “party”, and he was 10 yrs older, just finishing up his partying and finally ready to get serious about life and a relationship. I believe a lot of times when both persons are very young (18-22) it is extremely difficult to stay together because you are both still growing up. People need to be actual adults (in mind if not in age) for a couple to be able to work through life’s difficulties and not give in to the childish tantrums and “it’s all about me” moments, which I believe is THE biggest cause of couples throwing away their marriages.

  16. Jennwith2ns says:

    I used to ask God why *I* had to become perfect before He’d let me get married, when from all appearances, nobody else did.

    (P.S. I got married this year, and–what up?–I’m still not perfect. But I still had to wait a frickin’ long time.)

  17. Single Lady says:

    What?? I’m “older”?? (24 years old, here.)

    1. Not fully formed, we will never be that until we leave this earth! But probably relationship-ready. Know that you are able to love and be loved, trust and be trusted.

    2. In some cases, I think that people are waiting too long because they enjoy being free and lacking responsibilities (guilty as charged)

    3. I thought I had heard the opposite statistic, so I’m not sure what I think about this one

    4. I would have gotten married a few years ago, but now that I know myself a little more, I know that it could have been a disaster. However, maybe it would have sped up my sanctification process a bit?

  18. Leapin' Lizard says:

    Oh boy! Here I go:

    I have read that article before, and liked it…’cause I did it. My husband and I have been married for 3 years. We tied the knot at the ages of 20 (me) and 21 (handsome). There is absolutely a level of commitment required that has become the super-glue to our relationship. Yes, if I could go back I’d probably not get married freshman year of college (he was not in school). But then again, I probably would. You see, my husband and I met at ages 12 (me) and 13 (handsome), and were best friends for years. When we started dating our families heaved a sigh of relief.
    Stick with me through the goop.
    The biggest thing that prompted me to accept his hand in marriage was that in the 8 years I had known him, there wasn’t a single thing I wanted changed about him. I wasn’t going into marriage thinking I could change him. Do I believe in soulmates? Nope. I hate it when my girlfriends are in a shitty relationship but claim they’re soooo in love, that he’s their soulmate. Do I think everybody should get married young? Nope. But it is easier to blend two lifestyles when your own hasn’t been set in the concrete of habit.
    And so we make it work. Yeah marriage is hell-of-a lot of hard work, but we are growing up together. It’s kinda nice to have somebody with which to do that…but then again, I don’t think the two of us will truly ever grow up (I’m singing Peter Pan in my head).

    Q&A:
    1. Waiting till we’re fully formed? …as what? As a person? Not gonna happen. You get married, you’re gonna have to mesh together play-doh style anyway. However, waiting till you have a steady job or something logical like that would be highly recommendable.

    2. People waiting too long to get married. Yes. I think so. It depends on each individual person, but generally we’re waiting too long. For example: The longer you wait to be married, the less time you’ll get with your mate before the offspring materialize (generally speaking, and if you don’t already have them). Being married only 3ish years before having kids sucks. My husband and I will probably be married 6-8 years before kids ruin our lives, and we’ll be in our late 20s by then.

    3. The statistic. Thank heavens there’s hope for my marriage. I like that statistic. As to why it exists, I have no idea. Ask me when I’ve been married for 50 years.

    4. Not applicable.

  19. Lauren says:

    Holy smokes, you just made my blood pressure shoot right up! Married at twenty? Twenty one? I’m twenty, and I’m still watching disney movies while eating peanut butter right out of the jar! No prospects on the horizon, people! I know it’s irrational, but now I feel like I have to go find my soul mate like tomorrow or my eggs will shrivel up and I’ll be old and grouchy and have lots of cats. No, not cats, I hate cats. I’ll be the old hippie lady with lots of dogs. But still. As a twenty-year-old RIGHT NOW, I don’t feel remotely ready for any sort of marriage. However, hindsight is twenty-twenty. Ask me again in fifty years.

  20. Charmaine says:

    I will never be fully formed on this earth, always changing, learning, growing…
    I don’t about the waiting question, people who I know who have gotten married generally haven’t sat around on their hands biding their time before they decide it’s the ‘right’ time. When they do leave it for maybe a year, it seems to be more ‘getting to know you’ time.
    I hadn’t heard that statistic before. I would hope that age of marrying doesn’t make a lot of difference, particularly for christians living in God’s grace.
    As for me, I’m 28, had one boyfriend for 6 months almost a year ago, that’s it. Had I met someone who actually wanted to love me before now, of course I would have gotten married! Alas, I’m not waiting by choice. So I continue to wait…

  21. I agree with all those who said some variation of nobody’s ever fully formed. I think you see a lot more of people who see marriage as a restriction on their lifestyle and are in no hurry to change and also of people who fear failing at marriage too much to commit to it. The stigma of living together is mostly gone outside of a few religious/cultural circles, along with the stigma of premarital sex, so people really don’t feel the need for it. You also see a lot of people who have a bucket list of things they want to get accomplished before they’re married because there’s a thought that once you’re married you’ll never be able to do anything important or fun you wanted to do. There are sacrifices to marriage, and sacrifices to parenting, and we’re not a people who desire to make sacrifices as a general rule.

    I’m not waiting to be a particular age or state of perfection, myself. Nor do I have many delusions that the person I’ll marry will be perfect either. I’m waiting to feel like I’ve found God’s will for that area of my life and the right person with whom to experience it. I’ve had a couple of girls I considered and prayed about, but nothing that has come to a “yes” yet. Most people wouldn’t define me as “looking” because I’m not dating, but I do consider prospects. I’d also like to be in a financial position to feel like I could support a family comfortably, but I’m placing that in the “desirable” column rather than the requirement column, especially with this economy.

    On the divorce statistic, my first question would be: are these made considering only FIRST marriages ending in divorce, or all marriages? Elizabeth Taylor got married 8 times, for instance. Does she count as 1 or as 8 of the marriages in those statistics? The same question applies to the “half of all marriages” statistic, in which second and further marriages are usually counted to come up with the statistic and there’s little said of how many first-time marriages currently end in divorce.

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