Why Wait if You Know it’s Right?

Last month, University of Texas sociology professor, Mark Regnerous wrote about the benefits of early marriage in a Washington Post column. I admire his dissenting exploration of a seemingly decided belief, which is that people who marry young belong in the 1950’s and need to get with the times:

“The age at which a person marries never actually causes a divorce. Rather, a young age at marriage can be an indicator of an underlying immaturity and impatience with marital challenges — the kind that many of us eventually figure out how to avoid or to solve without parting. Unfortunately, well-educated people resist this, convinced that there actually is a recipe for guaranteed marital success that goes something like this: Add a postgraduate education to a college degree, toss in a visible amount of career success and a healthy helping of wealth, let simmer in a pan of sexual variety for several years, allow to cool and settle, then serve. Presto: a marriage with math on its side.”

I suspect there’s a correlation between impatient youth and divorce. Some women and men may want the perfect life at 22, so they marry early to achieve this end. As Regnerus writes, this stems more from immaturity and naivety. There are plenty of 22-year-old’s who feel ready to get married, so age doesn’t reveal everything about maturity.

I particularly like this segment of Regnerus’s article:

“My applause goes out to those among them who’ve figured out that the proverb was right. One of those is Jennifer, a 23-year-old former student of mine. She’s getting married this fall. It wasn’t religion that made her do it. It wasn’t fear of being alone. It was simply affection. She met Jake while still in college and decided that there was no point in barhopping through her 20s.”

Is it really a shock or a bad thing that some women do not, in fact, desire to bar hop and get hit on by different men every night? As someone who finds it absolutely disgusting to get intimate with strangers, I admire Jennifer for avoiding this path entirely. She knew it wasn’t for her and instead found someone to (hopefully) spend the rest of her life with. What happens to all the people who don’t find this person, yet don’t want to bar hop, either? I can imagine that will be me, but I’ll just throw myself into friendships and work instead of conforming to a social norm.

Where is the satisfaction in temporary, one-night stands, anyway? Perhaps someone besides myself can answer this question, and I’m willing to listen to all answers. Truthfully, I’m fascinated to hear what the appeal is, because I’ll never understand it and I love learning new perspectives on topics.

It all depends on a person’s values, so while the 28-year-old bar hopping girl may laugh at Jennifer for marrying so young, Jennifer may think the bar hopper is pathetic. Everyone is different. One route is not better than the other.

Someone from a broken family may wish to create a new one at an early age. After losing a parent, I briefly wondered what it would be like to get married soon after college on the condition that I found someone at that point in time. It’s common for people from unsatisfactory homes to want to start another family right away, and it kind of makes sense. Who really wants to be alone, and who wants to be without a stable family to turn to? Man is a social animal, and life really is better with more people around.

I do, however, disagree with this section of the column:

“Married people earn more, save more and build more wealth compared with people who are single or cohabiting. (Say what you will about the benefits of cohabitation, it’s a categorically less stable arrangement, far more prone to division than marriage.) We can combine incomes while reducing expenses such as food, child care, electricity, gas and water usage. Marriage may be bourgeois, but it’s also the greenest of all social structures.”

Is this writer suggesting that we marry simply for financial security? That’s pretty mercenary, and marrying for money often ends in divorce. Money should not be a main marriage incentive.

Early marriage isn’t for everyone, but it does work for some, particularly those who are uninterested in the bachelor/single woman lifestyle. I can imagine it would get kind of lonely after a while.

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