What’s the deal with Christians getting married so young?

I reblogged a post recently which was written by a young man who is 21, and getting married in the near future. It was a very sweet post – practical, mostly realistic, and appropriately romantic without being gag inducingly soppy. (Depending on your romance tolerance level). If there was a 21 year old who seemed mature enough to make the big step into the daunting world of matrimony, my bets would be on him as coming up trumps. He had it all planned out, including the reasons why it was the right time, why he’d come to his decision, and how he was going to pay for the wedding, and most importantly, his marriage.

For some reason (actually a few fairly obvious reasons – hormones being one of them), Christians seem to tend to get married at younger ages than the rest of the population. Statistically, this might not be true, but as per most of the sweeping statements made on this blog, my data is carefully collected from a variety of prestigious, long standing social networking sites including Facebook and Twitter, but never, ever Bebo (remember Bebo guys?).

It feels like at least every 9 and a half days, my Facebook feed is covered with yet another simpering, sloppy lovefest of an engagement post. Cue numerous likes and congratulatory comments. Cue constant engagement ‘updates’ from said distressingly happy couple all over my timeline like nappy rash on a newborn babe. No, I’m joking, it’s actually very cute, but the frequency of these shenanigans at my tender age of 23 is kinda alarming. In fact, even more alarming to me, is the age that some of these sweet people are getting engaged.

Now, back when I was 21, things weren’t like they are nowadays. Instagram was barely in existence, and only a small minority of over zealous social networkers were using Twitter. I firmly believe that 21 year olds were so much mature in those days, if only for the fact that we really had to make our own fun instead of constantly being entertained by Ipad screens.

Anyway, nostalgia aside, one thing that I distinctly remember about being 21, although the memory is rather vague and cloudy, is my distinct lack of maturity. Almost to the point that even the hazy fog of my recollected immaturity actually frightens me. I glance back into my past immaturity and shriek, quietly, so that my 23 year old self won’t hear and be unsuitably perturbed.

I hear your protests – that many 21 year olds might well be far more mature than I was at my age, but for fear of sounding like I’m trying to drag everyone else down into my mire, I doubt it. And I think that’s perfectly fine. It’s relatively normal to not have the most fantastic working knowledge of you temperament, likes and dislikes, favourite football team, life goals or value system at the age of 21. That’s usually the age when all these things are flying around in your head, and you’re making big decisions about the world you live in and how you relate to it. You’ve supported Bolton Wanderers for 10 years of your life, but now feel a strange affinity to Arsenal. You’ve been brought up with a particular faith or non-faith and are now questioning those ideals. You’re beginning to find out that actually, really sarcastic (:-)) people DO get on your nerves, and that although you can appreciate them, you don’t tend to form long lasting relationships with them. You dye your hair green. You buy a parakeet and name her Beyonce, and then she flies off whistling Irreplaceable, never to return. Whatever, basically, you’re ‘finding yourself’.

My point is, that I’m not sure that while you’re finding yourself, it’s the best time to find a life partner. Simply because you’re apt to change more than you might expect from your early to mid/late 20’s, and you might well find that your partner doesn’t change ‘with’ you, meaning in similar ways, or at least ways that are compatible. In fact scientists now believe that your brain doesn’t really fully develop until you’re 25, so essentially,  in your early 20’s you’re still growing emotionally as well as physically. The things I want in a man now, at nearly 24, are so much more refined and realistic than the things I wanted at 21. And I’m still a baby in some ways, but i’m so much more certain of who I am. Let’s not also forget the abject poverty that characterises most people’s early 20’s. Love is cute, but it doesn’t pay British Gas. And canoodling is fun until you find your partner exponentially shrinking because you can’t afford Sainsbury’s anymore.

The thing is, at 21, if you’d told me all this, I would have disagreed with you. I would have defensively told you that thank you very much, I am quite aware of my person, and very much able to make fairly sensible, informed, decisions about life. Notwithstanding the fact that I can pray and God will lead me in the right direction, so what’s there to worry about?

I think though, that God asks us to use wisdom in these things, and although there are some young marriages that work ( I have some friends whose wedding I am attending soon, and I pray they will be among that number), the divorce rate for young marriages is so much higher. And unfortunately, the divorce rate amongst Christians is not far behind that of non-Christians. I don’t think the divorce rate is higher for young couples because they are not well intentioned, or not genuinely in ‘love’, but more because they have prematurely made a decision that might have been best left till later on.

What do you guys think? Is age nothing but a number? Or are young marriages a bad idea?

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6 Comments

  1. March 12, 2014 / 1:45 am

    It certainly is a topical subject. Funnily enough, two young people I know who are studying at Hull University got engaged today. They’re both in their early 20’s and I would argue that it is too early an age, where everything is constantly changing, to get married.
    Another interesting thing is that, in my experience at University; it seems to be the young white Christians who are often part of the Christian Union getting married. So it’s safe to say it could be a cultural thing amongst other things. It could also be simply because they feel they have found a life partner, and want to have sex?

    It does raise some interesting questions. Thanks for sharing 😀

    • March 19, 2014 / 9:59 pm

      Yes, you’re right that at university it does seem to have a cultural bent to it. I have noticed that, wonder why?? Thanks for commenting 🙂

  2. Dede
    March 20, 2014 / 4:29 pm

    Omg can I just say I agree with you;on a very serious level..like I don’t really see how people are convinced that they are ripe at such young age,.personally I dont see myself going down that road for at least another 7-8 yrs maybe; I am turning 21 soon btw. It’s rather scary to me if I am to be honest,I feel like you need quite a lot of time to get ur acts together for such a serious commitment..I wonder hw these other guys do it. Again I also see your point about Christians bein major culprits, infact I knw some one rather young who is also on that route.Ah well, I can only wish them well..btw can I just say I love your writing, it so coherent and interesting.thumbs up 🙂

  3. November 11, 2014 / 1:24 pm

    Whilst I concur with most of what you’ve written, I do wonder if 21 or somewhat close being too young to get married is a modern phenomenon! Many of the older generations got married much younger as was the norm back then and many went on to have long-lasting and happy marriages. Age is not equal to maturity and waiting till you are older does not guarantee a ‘happily ever after’.
    I think the up rise of technology and modern conveniences means people generally are more relaxed about many things including making such a big commitment. Also, many are not developing or being taught essential values in life which makes them feel less prepared or unsuitable for marriage.
    The famous saying is that marriage is a school of learning so no matter how old you are, you are just never prepared for many of the things that will come your way when you’re married but the values you have and your beliefs will play major roles in whether you get your ‘happily ever after’ or not!
    There isn’t really a simple answer but here is another food for thought I think!

  4. November 11, 2014 / 1:25 pm

    Whilst I concur with most of what you’ve written, I do wonder if 21 or somewhat close being too young to get married is a modern phenomenon! Many of the older generations got married much younger as was the norm back then and many went on to have long-lasting and happy marriages. Age is not equal to maturity and waiting till you are older does not guarantee a ‘happily ever after’.
    I think the up rise of technology and modern conveniences means people generally are more relaxed about many things including making such a big commitment. Also, many are not developing or being taught essential values in life which makes them feel less prepared or unsuitable for marriage.
    The famous saying is that marriage is a school of learning so no matter how old you are, you are just never prepared for many of the things that will come your way when you’re married but the values you have and your beliefs will play major roles in whether you get your ‘happily ever after’ or not!
    There isn’t really a simple answer but here is another food for thought I think!

    • November 11, 2014 / 9:38 pm

      I totally agree that back in the day 21 was norma! But I think we are so much less ‘grown up’ in the ways that are required for a good marriage (but grown up in many other ways), that it’s probably very different. As you said the value and life skills needed are just not taught as much….

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