The Logic of Avoiding Young Marriage

After five and a half years of dating, it’s hard to avoid the subject of marriage. I admit, we bring it up among ourselves enough. We actually already have names for our first girl and boy (although we have no idea if kids are a thing we want). My parents have been very patient, hardly saying a word. This last time they were around was the biggest hint they’ve ever given us. Talking with distant relatives, one asked how long we’ve dated. After we gave our answer, eyebrows rose and my dad said something along the lines of “I know. Most people are… you know… by now.”

Chapter TK - Getting married just because you've been dating a while isn't good enough. There's logic to avoiding young marriage

Yes. We know.

If you ask me, our reasons for not being married at this moment can be summed up in one statement. Now is not the right time. There will never be a perfect time, but I’m still in no rush.

My darling boyfriend briefly mumbled something about knowing a lot of people our age in unhappy marriages or who have already gotten a divorce. One of my good friends is divorced. I saw many friends get married right after college and for more than one, I wanted to beg them not to go through with it. They may have done well in a few years, but right then…. what did they know of the world? No matter how many years you’ve been dating, there is such thing as too young (or at least too immature).

The answer we got was that we can’t let the failure of other young marriages scare us out of our own marriage.

That seems a little…. presumptuous. Why should my boyfriend and I think our love is any greater or any more lasting than any other 20-something in love? Certainly there’s nothing wrong with us waiting, finding some stability for ourselves and defining who we want to be as individuals before jumping into matrimony.

Personally, I think stats about young marriage are worth reflection. Should they be what makes our ultimate decision? No. Are they worth consideration before jumping in? Yes.

I meet too many people who put a time limit on their relationship. Honest to God I once met a woman who said if marriage wasn’t at least being seriously discussed after 18 months of dating, she was done. While I somewhat understand wanting to find “the one,” I can’t help wondering if it’s worth rushing. This particular girl was a bit religious and I wonder if that had something to do with it.

We all have our own paths. What’s right for one is not always right for the other. For some, waiting until marriage may be just what they need. For others, it may result in necessary rushing. How many youngsters remember confusing physical attraction for love? There’s a difference, but it can be hard to define if you’re inexperienced.

I don’t think we should all feel such pressure to follow the same path. We’re not all made to get married, have 2.5 kids and be merry. Some of us need a different kind of adventure, and that’s okay (it is also perfectly okay to desire a traditional life).

My boyfriend knows I won’t be satisfied without marriage eventually. We talk openly and know where we both stand. When the time is right, we’ll take that step.

Can two people date too long? Are there any universal rules of dating and marriage in terms of length? If you’re married, how did you know the time was right? Or did you just jump in?

Photo Copyright: halfpoint / 123RF Stock Photo


62 thoughts on “The Logic of Avoiding Young Marriage”

  1. I got married just after I turned 23, and (hate to brag, but) our marriage is amazing. After taking the leap, we knew that we would have to commit to a life of putting the other ahead of ourselves. For reference, my wife was 28 when we got married, and we knew we didn’t want to wait too long to have children (our first is 10 months old and we were married in Dec 2011).

    I personally think most people aren’t suited to marriage, because they’re too selfish. I don’t mean that in a judgemental way – I mean they are too self-interested for marriage, not too selfish generally. It’s okay to be selfish, but not if you intend to form a life-long bond with another human.

    But when marriage is good, it’s like a bolt of lightning. The strength I get knowing that my best friend always has my back means that I capable of things I wouldn’t normally be capable of.

    Do it if you’re ready, but don’t be afraid to realise when marriage isn’t right for you.

    1. Congratulations!

      I definitely don’t think marriage is for everyone. People talk about the divorce rate (which has been steadily falling over the decades) and I think part of the issues is that marriage isn’t right for everyone. Sometimes a person or couple is happier with another choice.

      But, as you say, when it’s right, it’s really right.

      1. I’m glad you have your head on correctly. I’ve seen many set themselves up for failure and rush into huge commitments such as that one. Bearing children is another one folks rush into without giving much thought.

  2. Well Andy and I are married. We were 25 when we got married. We had been dating (and had only known each other) for 1.5 years.

    That first 6 months was hard. I had so many unrealized expectations. I went to counseling for 3 sessions and came out the other end a different wife.

    Frankly I don’t believe in “the one.” Andy and I have been together for 10 years and 3 kids. We decided to be together. Fate had nothing to do with it. He decides to put up with mood swings. I decide not to compare housework. He to be interested in art and I decide that hiking won’t kill me. We are happy. We love each other. We decided to love each other.

    1. I think you’re right. Marriage is always a chance. You make a choice and promise to commit to the relationship and hope your partner will do the same.

      Some friends of mine say they can’t choose who they love or how much they love them. I kind of disagree. It takes a lot of effort to turn infatuation and admiration into lasting love. If you don’t keep trying, you’ll fall out of love as fast as you fell in.

  3. My partner lives in Finland and I in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. We now each other nearly 2 years. But I have the feeling we are still dating, although marriage has been a topic during the course of our relationship. I think that marriage is just one option of many. But a desirable option for many people. I think that you should not limit yourself to that but think broader. Have a broader perspective on relationships.

    1. I agree. Marriage, like other relationship milestones, happen in their own time. No one must get married after a certain amount of time.

  4. My wife and I dated off and on for over a year while we finished college, lived together for seven years, and then married. Nothing changed, except now the paperwork for passport renewals and taxes doubled.

    Marriage, outside of religious belief, is nothing more than an expensive legal contract between you, your spouse, and a meddling totalitarian government. Though we have no reason to divorce, if I could do it all over I’d not have married. Sure, we’d do a commitment ceremony not unlike a wedding, but the government and their rules, bureaucracy, and fees would not be invited.

  5. As I’ve shared before on your blog, my husband and I got married as undergraduates aged 20 and 21. There were practical reasons for us getting married then too but we just felt ready. It felt right. We had been together for 2.5 years by then and had been living together for most of that time. We knew we wanted to marry each other so we just decided to marry then when it made most sense. So I don’t hold that there are any rules or timelines to follow, any sort of etiquette about when a commitment needs to conform to a public declaration. That completely personal and completely individual. Tomorrow marks 21 years of my husband and I being together so marrying young clearly has not been a problem for us. Conversely I’ve known people who waited until later to life to marry and then had short-lived marriages. You will know when the time is right.

    1. I think that making sense thing is important. every relationship is different. Marriage will make different sense on a different time line depending on the couple.

  6. If a couple questions if they’re ready for marriage, they quite possibly aren’t quite yet. Friends and family shouldn’t make the decision, or even encourage it before people believe it to be time themselves. Society places too much emphasis on marriage as the only true verification of a lifetime commitment. Statistics show that’s not to be the case with the divorce rate nowadays. Enjoy each others company while you’re young, without the pressure of “having” to get married. If it’s meant to be, you’ll know the time!

    1. I honestly think it comes down to knowing who you are as an individual. Once you understand who you are, who can understand how you fit into a relationship.

  7. Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait! Too often young couples jump in not realizing what marriage takes. What’s the rush? Live a little, make some mistakes, and for God’s sake grow up and mature some before jumping into such a huge commitment. I’m all for waiting!

    1. I fully agree. I think not people agree but, oddly, that doesn’t stop people from thinking it’s odd that my boyfriend and I aren’t married.

  8. I’ve been reflecting on this subject a lot lately since it feels like I see a new engagement pop up on my facebook newsfeed every other day from people who are my age or thereabouts (I’m 21 and a senior in college). I for one can’t imagine being married this young; I’m still figuring out who I am and I surely am not ready to commit to spending my life with another person. That being said, I do understand that other people hold different values that lead them to their young marriages though I certainly don’t agree with them. I personally believe that there is no such thing as dating for too long. Some people just aren’t interested in marriage period, and that’s fine.
    I appreciate your perspective on this!

    1. Statisticly, the longer a couple dates the less likely they are to marry. Maybe that’s good, though. Maybe too many people don’t date long enough.

      I feel your pain, though. I had 4 weddings to go to the summer after graduating college. That was just the ones I went to. It feels shocking.

  9. My husband and I were together 6 years before we got married this summer, at 24. I knew it was time because we’d handled a lot of stress together. We moved across country with no jobs and no major family or friends to support us. We out our resources and bank accounts together, and not only did we survive, we thrived. The last 2 1/2 years have been the best by far. Also, I’m an extremely impatient person with a very short attention span. And I never get bored of him. I just knew.

    1. That sounds lovely. Everyone gets married when the time is right. I know a number of people who did it as you did, combining parts of your lives together until marriage makes sense.

  10. “Why should my boyfriend and I think our love is any greater or any more lasting than any other 20-something in love?”

    The question doesn’t make much sense.

    It’s not anything about your love (or anyone else’s love) today. It’s about the choices that you and your boyfriend make over time. Some people mutually choose to put effort into their relationship, and some don’t. Sometimes one person just decides to walk away (which is always a risk), essentially making the choice for both people.

    You cannot know with certainty what choices another person will make over the course of a lifetime. You can trust that they will make choices with your relationship TOGETHER in mind (a trust that is necessary for a long-term relationship, married or not), but you cannot know for certain. But although you can’t know for certain whether or not you will end up divorced, marriage is worth it. It’s really awesome to look back on our six years of marriage and see how much my husband and I (and the kids) have all grown together as a family; and I look forward to the future we have in store together.

    1. I’m not saying marriage is worthless. It’s definitely something I plan on doing st some point. I only mean to say that we aren’t that different from other couples. We need to mature and grow at our own pace before taking that step.

  11. J and I have been dating for 9 years, 10 in December WOOT WOOT! We also talk about marriage but we feel there’s a timing to consider and like you, we feel that time is NOT now. I already told J’s mom that kids were fairly improbable. I think she took it pretty well. She really wants us to get married in Vegas by Elvis. She even offered to pay for it! I thought it was funny but told J I reeeaaallly don’t like Elvis. He was abusive and a cheater. What kind of message is Vegas even trying to send young couples?!? I just want to elope. It’s cheap, easy, and a personal experience that the two of you can treasure forever. Maybe it’s because I’m not a huge family person but I don’t think having a big wedding sounds like a good time at all. Plus we’re not religious and most of J’s family is. I just can’t see myself getting married in a church or wearing a white dress. I’m looking forward to getting all hennaed up, throwing on a Saree or maybe an ao dai and eloping to California so we can hit up some gaming convention! Ah, now that my dear is one romantic ass time 😉

    1. Wow, 10 years. I don’t think I could wait quite that long. But then, 4 years ago I thought I’d want to be married by the time I was 25. Now here I am, with the same guy I was with 4 years ago, just months away from turning 25 and I in no way feel ready. I tell my boyfriend I don’t want to date for a decade; I want to be married by then. But who knows? I expect it to happen and it will happen when it’s meant to happen.

      Also, I would love to elope but the people it would piss off would be too much to handle. People say to do what you want, but I want to not have to deal with quite that many angry people more than I want to elope ^_^ It’s okay, though. I did a count and the two of us together will probably only have 40 people at the wedding. It’ll be a small affair. As it should be. ^_^

  12. Reblogged this on Anxious Accessories and commented:
    Kall and I have been together for… geez it’s been 4 years already. We talk about marriage often but it’s not something that we can afford. He’s 30 and I’m 27, but we don’t feel the need for a huge wedding. I sure as hell don’t want a huge wedding (even though I dreamed of one as a kid) and I honestly think if we do get married, it will be on the steps of parliament or at the births, deaths and marriages offices. To us, it’s just a piece of paper.
    Here in Australia, we recognise all relationships, whether same sex or not, after six months of living together, so technically (according to our government) Kall and I are already in a recognised legal relationship. We have to declare each other on our tax returns, we visit centrelink together and our pensions are reduced because we are together and getting hitched won’t change a thing!
    Our families think… well actually I don’t know what our families think but I’m pretty sure after everything they have put us through they get the idea that we’re not leaving each other and that this is a lifetime kind of thing..
    Personally, I think it’s just nice for him to hug me at night and tell me he loves me. I tell him it’s forever and then we go to sleep. It’s a thing we do, it makes me feel like I have butterflies everytime. Every single time.

    1. You two sound perfect for each other. I think finances are a big part of why my boyfriend and I aren’t married yet, as well. I was 18 and he was 22 when we first met. Just college students. It’s only now that we both have stable jobs and all that. I’ve heard of people slowly merging their lives together. First they move in, then they start buying big ticket items together. Eventually, they merge bank accounts and after that, they get married. I’m not sure that’s how my boyfriend and I will be, but it seems to work for those people who did it.

      Thanks for reblogging!

  13. My first marriage occurred when I was just 20 years old and lasted for 5 years. It was not an unhappy marriage really, just a boring one, because we both grew apart during that time. We were both different people by the time I hit 25.
    I got remarried when I was 27 and have been married for 8 years now. It’s been great. And it has lasted because we were both older (both divorced actually) and both knew what we wanted for ourselves and our spouse. There is nothing wrong with waiting. Take your time and enjoy each other without putting any pressure on it.

    1. I hear that is very common. I have an older friend who told me I’ll attend a ton of weddings in my early 20s and then attend those same people’s weddings in a decade. Amazing how that keeps happening.

      I once read you need to fall in love with a person again and again every day as they change. Some young people can do that and make it work, but I think many are still trying to figure out who they are, resulting in them being completely different by the time they’re in their late 20s. You can’t know who you want until you know yourself.

  14. I like your post a lot! I think people get married too soon as well. Half the time they don’t even know who ther are as an individual so how is your significant other supposed to know who you are? It never hurts to wait for a while. You’ll know when you want to marry. And for the rest, don’t care about anything other people say. It’s your life. Follower your instincts

  15. I completely feel you here. I have been dating for quite a while and we both want to get married eventually but not just yet. We speak about it openly as well. =) I used to be surprised at the amount of people my age getting married and having kids. “But you haven’t lived!” that was always what came to mind. Now though, I feel – To each their own. Some are happy and some may not be. We all have our own paths. I really enjoyed this post. =)

    1. Yes. You and I seem to have similar relationships. What I find interesting is that there’s a huge difference between rural and urban areas. Many of my friends from the rural area I grew up on are married or getting married. Most of my friends out here, though they are the same age, are not married. There’s no pressure out here. It’s so nice.

  16. The ads are on your site are cracking me up. KY with two people ripping their clothes off, then kittens, then the most beautiful women in the world.

    I think it’s different for everyone. I don’t want to condemn young marriage because it works out fine for some people. But I know that I wouldn’t advise someone to get married young.

    Alex and I got engaged after 18 months of dating and will be married right at 2 years together. If we were 20, I’d say that was crazy. But we’re both old now. Ha. Just kidding, but at 28 I think we’re more established into being the people we will mostly be. We know what we want and we know how our lives will fit in together. Someone in their 40s will probably laugh at this comment. Oh well.

    1. I don’t choose the theme of my ads. They’re based off of the user’s web history. What have you been getting into online? ^_^

      I think the right time to marry has a lot to do with two people knowing who they are. You don’t have to date as long the older you get because you know who you are and who you want to be. Most in their early 20s do not. Also, I’m pretty 28 is the farthest from old. If 30 is the new 20, then 28 is the new 18. You’re barley legal! ^_^

  17. I recently read a book called, premarital sex in America, and it said that very young marriages were prone to divorce, because the kids haven’t grown up yet and there’s huge financial stress. But once you’re in your 20s there’s not such a big difference. But keep in mind that people who marry in their 20s tend to be more religious, And less likely to divorce for that reason. They pointed out that some people don’t want to marry until they are financially stable, And yet they aren’t actually financially better off living in two separate households.

    Seems to me that what most matters, once you’re into your 20s, is whether it feels right to marry. Do you and your partner feel like you have found “The one” And it’s time to settle down.

    1. Exactly. Are you just getting married because you’re afraid to start over or because this person is the one. There’s nothing wrong with getting married young. I think it has to do with a maturity level. If you’re not mature enough to handle the responsibility, the marriage is prone to falling apart.

  18. TK

    My take on marriage is this. You date to find out if you’re compatible enough to be boyfriend and girlfriend. You become boyfriend and girlfriend to find out if you’re compatible enough for marriage. He’s been making deposits of love into your bucket for years now and you have been directing his energy for the same amount of time. That being said if he’s completely filling your bucket with love then there is no need to look any where else. If he’s releasing all his energy into you, then he’s found his rib. This “marriage” is how God intended for your bucket to be filed by him and no longer your father. This is why he gives you away.

    As stated above the government has capitalized on this fact. Which actually had washed it down. You don’t have to married by way of Church, we are all under God. Meaning you have been married since you’ll started dating…

    I learned a lot from your post!

    1. Thanks for reading! I think every marriage is unique. As you say, it dosen’t always have to be in a church. When two people commit themselves to each other, the kind of ceremony dosen’t really matter.

  19. I liked this post and I believe I jumped into marriage way too soon, a few times! ha ha! (I have been divorced three times, but many who have been lifetime friends, believe it is not really so much me as that I trusted them!

  20. Completely agree! I often hear people lament the high divorce rates, but I do think there is a correlation between divorce rates and the pressure to marry young. We didn’t see it as much before due to social stigma behind divorce, but I think ultimately, waiting just shows how seriously you take the commitment of marriage.

    Also, people who wait to have children when they’re older and more mature tend to raise more mature children. Go figure!

    And if you’re not sure about kids–definitely don’t rush into that, either! I felt a lot of pressure to have kids and when I said, “We’re not ready,” I always got the, “Well, you’re never really ready,” speech that basically said once I had a baby, my motherly instinct would kick in and BAM! It’s all good ’cause look how CUTE!!! Babies are flippin’ adorable, but wait until you know for sure and feel ready about it.

    1. I think we saw less divorce back in the day for many reasons. It wasn’t always legal and things like domestic abuse and marital rape were. Divorce was a way for people to finally escape abusive relationships.

      Marriage has also changed in terms of our wants. Way way way back when, it was for survival. We needed to reproduce and a woman needed to be protected when pregnant. Eventually, society evolved beyond that. Now the issue wasn’t physical protection so much as money and status. Now, society has evolved further where we don’t need to get married in order to be protected, reproduce, have money or have status. Now, people get married to find someone who completes them, who makes them a better person. That’s a much harder challenge. We’re in this interesting place as a society, where we still pressure people to get married even though the reasons behind marriage have changed from the days where it was normal to marry young.

  21. We jumped in and have been married over 30 yrs. we are still together because 1. We decided we were committed. Now too many are not committed and bounce from relationship to relationship. There’s something to be said for sticking it out when you don’t feel like it and you aren’t sure you even like the other person lol.
    Something worth having is worth fighting for.

    1. I think that commitment is key. Youth isn’t really the problem so much as a lack of that commitment or a lack of understanding of what that commitment means.

      That is where youth comes into play. I think most youth aren’t capable yet of understanding the seriousness of marriage. That isn’t to say all are that way. I know young marriages that worked out. Timing is different for every relationship.

  22. After being a single mom for a year (never married), I see many of my friends marry, have kids and then get divorced before the first one turns three. My friends bemoan that our situations are different, but they rarely are. We are all in the same boat, only they wear “divorcee” like a badge of honor. Like all institutions, marriage is imperfect. If you evolve with your spouse, like my parents have, the chance for success is higher. However, like so many young loves, two people who can’t evolve together rarely stand the test of time.

    I loved this post- very thoughtful and inspiring.

  23. This is a question I hear a lot (because my husband & I are in our early 20s)! We married because we have been together for 5/6 years, have been through and grown up so much together that I honestly can’t think of anything that would cause us to not want to see each other anymore (and don’t take that to be a naïve statement, when I say we’ve been through a lot – I really mean it).
    Young women (and only ever other young women) are constantly bringing up the “issue” of marriage and charging at me with… I don’t even know what to call it, full-on Tumblr feminist type rants about how they’d “be ashamed” to be a wife, how they “wouldn’t take his name”.
    There’s facts and figures for everything. Statistics stretch out into the far distance of the universe and tell us what they see.
    What does it matter to you and your relationship what someone else and their relationship is or does or means to them?

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