Google+ Authentic Parenting: What's Too Young To Get Married?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What's Too Young To Get Married?

When I got married, I was a month shy of 23. It didn't come as a surprise to my environment, we had been together for three years and were a very solid couple, and quite to my surprise, we didn't get any negative comments.
We had wanted to get married the next year, as I was still studying back then, but since my husband landed the job abroad and marriage would make the paperwork a lot easier, we decided to go ahead with it anyway, since we'd planned on marrying anyway.

Image: Tammra McCauley
Marriage at 22 is pretty rare in Belgium, specifically among the higher educated. As of yet, I only have one other friend who got married from back at university, and she's 7 years older than me. The general trend is to get married around 30 and to have kids immediately. To have two and have them close together (but that might be a topic for another post). If you get married at all.

With our way of life, and because I also actively seek them out, I've been meeting a lot of new people... And lately, I do get some funny faces when I say at what age I got married. I get some "that's pretty young"-remarks.

Now I forgive those people, because they don't know me and they sure didn't know me back then. I don't know them either, but probably at 22 they themselves weren't very mature. That happens. For some people maturity takes a while longer then for others.

At 22 I had had my fun, I had been president of a student's union (probably comparable to a sorority, not quite sure, but it's mixed sexes and mostly oriented towards drinking). I had had my share of boyfriends. And I had known for a while that I wanted a big family.
My husband was the one. And even if he wasn't, he was the one back then.

Where do we get the idea that we should only get married at around 30, when your fertility is well beyond its peak. When your physical maturity has been reached for over a decade. When you've been an active citizen for years?

Is it really all about schooling keeping us small and childlike?
Have we all come to believe in the myth that life ends when you get married? That you become obsolete when you have kids?

When I ask those people why 22 would be young to get married, why 25 would be young to have kids, they tend to answer that you can't do stuff?
What stuff I ask?

I do plenty more stuff then most single people I know, with a husband and a kid.
I have lived in three (soon four) different countries since I've been married. I have visited several others. I do pretty much everything my heart desires.
So what exactly is it I am missing out on?
Drinking? I've done more then my share of that at university and think I can go a lifetime simply to detox.
Fucking around? Would that really be it? I don't really see how I am missing out here. And if I were, there are ways to come to an arrangement within a marriage that makes it possible to explore new territories.
General outing? Yes, there are only few of them, I think since my daughter was born we can count our outings on our two hands... but I don't feel like I'm missing out.

So here we are again. It is all about choice. These are my choices... Simply because they don't relate to yours doesn't make them weird or crazy. Before you judge someone about the choices they made, put yourself in their shoes. Live their life, feel their feelings... Maybe in the end, you are the strange one.



  1. Totally agree. We should not judge other about their choices!
    In hindsight I should have done it differently. I got married at 22 and had my child at 26. At 33 I was divorced, and I blame it on being too young to make the right choice in life partner! You were lucky with your partner!
    Luckily I could do it all over again ;-)

  2. I can relate to this post very well! I met my husband when I was 19, got married at 21 and had a baby at 25. I feel like I may be missing out on the chance at a high-powered career, but the more engaged and aware I am of my relationship with my kids the less I even want a high-powered career. I had my fill of partying between 19 and 25, and I'm glad I started having babies while I was under 30. Caring for little kids takes a lot of energy!

  3. My husband and I got engaged when I was 22, the same year that we found out we were expecting our son. Seeing as we were posted (military) a long ways from family, we chose to postpone our official wedding until we moved closer to where people could actually attend it. I am the first in my family to 'get married' and have children and some consider it to be early while others see it as the norm. It all depends on who you talk to really. I don't feel like I have missed out on anything, having got the chance to party it up and the like during college, so I have no regrets. I would much rather have my children young so that I can have more and be around to see them have kids of their own. Besides, once they're grown I'll be young enough to have the time of my life doing the things I couldn't even do at 23 (like have the funds to take a cruise around the world). Too young for me is the poor 10 year old girls who are being married off to older men in some parts of the world. Now THAT is too young.

  4. I was almost 24 when I got married. My husband is 6 years older though. I'm 30 now and expecting my 3rd child. Career-wise things are crappy for both of us, but I'm going to go ahead and blame pediatric cancer and a lousy economy for that. I also feel like I did the stuff that you do without kids and we will do more things with our kids when they are older...go on trips, eat fancy food, and climb mountains or whatever.

    Sure, getting married and having children can change your direction and maybe put things on hold, but it doesn't mean life is over. And frankly I have friends whonare in their 30's and 40's who don't have kids and are either not married or married to people that they leave at home, and they just look silly, trying to act like they are still 21. Everyone needs to grow up eventually.

  5. Married at 21 and having a baby at 23 here! We live in the South (Tennessee to be exact) and it's not uncommon to get married right out of high school. We waited until we were out of university though ourselves. I don't feel like we are missing out on anything. I worked for many years and I find working from home much more rewarding. My husband works outside of the home and we still take trips every few weekends. Having a baby isn't likely to change that for us... we don't stay still long!

  6. I met my husband at 19, married him at 19, we had our first child when I was 21, and now we are about to celebrate our 2nd baby and our 4th anniversary. I don't think it has to do with age - I think it has to do with maturity, commitment, and resolve. I see so many couples get married for the wrong reasons, and see so many married couples treat marriage as if it means nothing.

    My family was appalled when we eloped - but now they see that our love for one another, and our commitment to each other and to our family and values very clearly. I think my friends thought I was nuts when I decided to put my faith in a different path than everyone expected for me - but it has turned out better than I could have ever imagined.

  7. We were also married at 23/24 (husband and me.) His parents were appalled, but my younger sister got married the same year. So I guess my parents just had to cope w/ it. Come to think of it, my brother was married by 25 also. Guess we were early bloomers?

  8. Good post. I was married at 21 (had been engaged for 3 and a half years by this point!!), and although looking back now, I was sooo much more immature then in many aspects, but I still love my husband to bits, and he is a terrific father. (Had my first child at the age of 25 - is this young?!!?)

    I had no negative comments at all, I wasn't aware at the time I was marrying "early" but ultimately, once you are 18 you are deemed adult, and able to make your own choices, and if it turned out to be a mistake, then you live with that also.

    Yes you can miss out on "stuff" but lets face it, married life and life with kids gives you a bunch more experience and other "stuff" that people who aren't married and who are childless miss out on!

  9. I met my husband when I was 14 and we got married when I was 18 and he was 20. I'll be 21 this year and we're expecting our second child. :) I never was a party person and always wanted to be a mom. :)


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