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Friday, December 23, 2011

Is 19 Too Young for Her to Marry?

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm 19 and I'm in a relationship with someone incredible. We've been dating about a year now, since I met him at the university we're attending. Our relationship is heading quickly towards an engagement. I know this is the person I want to marry and spend eternity with. The only problem is that everyone (and by everyone, I mean my parents, church leaders, elders, etc.) keep telling me that 19 is too young to get married; To wait until I'm 21, 22... Some have gone as far as to say that it's a lot more likely that my marriage will end up in divorce or separation if I get married so young. They've even supported themselves with legit scientific studies and statistics. I'm really at a cross roads, because I know this is the person I want to marry.

But I don't want to wait a year or two. I feel like that's just reckless, because Satan is only trying to keep us from a temple marriage, and it gets harder every day that we spend together and get closer to each other to behave appropriately. Not that we've done anything we shouldn't, but you know- the passion and temptation is definitely there.

Anyway, my point is- is it really that detrimental to my future to get married at 19? Is it really that big a deal? I want to do things the right way and I really don't see how a couple years is going to change the nature of our relationship, except to give us more room for error.


Too Young?

Dear Old Enough,

You don't mention where you're from, or if there are some cultural reasons peopele are telling you to wait, but in general I say no, 19 is not "too young" for a young woman to marry. I consider maturity and commitment more important than age.

Now, perhaps that's what the people who love you are trying to tell you, in an albeit too indirect way: that you're too immature to marry. I don't know you, so I have no idea, but a mature woman would certainly give prayerful ponderance to something so many people who do know her are saying.

You may need to just come out and ask these people what's wrong with this guy; if they're seeing something you don't, you better find out soon. (I hope they love you enough to tell you the truth, even if you don't want to hear it.)

I'm not a huge believer in statistics. I do believe in long courtships and short engagements.

A couple should date long enough to know each other well, ask each other the big questions (see "Bro Jo's List of Stuff You Need to Know Before You Get Engaged" and feel confident that you've looked for any serious danger signs (see "Bro Jo's Five A's of Why Not to Marry THAT Person" in "Bro Jo's Guide to Relationships").

But you're totally correct; once a couple decides to get married, I say pull the trigger fast before the Temple is no longer an option.

You will both definitely change over the next couple years, nothing you can do about that. Change is constant. But I agree, if you're truly informed and ready to marry now, 19 is not too young.

- Bro Jo


MaMichelle said...

My story: E & I met at the beginning of the semester my freshman year at the Y. First date on October 10th. Engaged over Christmas break. Married in the Manti Temple on May 5th, nearly two whole months after my nineteenth birthday. LOL! My (non-lds) parents were horrified and confused, certain that I was FAR too young, and ruining my life. My dad asked at one point: "Why can't you just live together for a few years?" I wish I had the pile of studies now that I've seen since then documenting the FAR-worse outcomes for couples who cohabit before marriage, compared with those who simply marry young! Now, 21 years and 7 children later, everyone has come around and agrees this thing might last. :-) I've made some stupid mistakes in my life, but getting married at age 19 in the temple to a righteous, brilliant, kindhearted, hard-working 22-year-old was the best decision I ever made.

LovelyLauren said...

In my experience, when the "are you too young?" question comes up again and again, there are often some temporal issues that aren't being taken care of.

Have you considered where you'll live? How will you pay for it? Have you had a fight and how did you handle it? Do you both have realistic plans for the future that align? If so, how are you implementing them (schooling, working and saving, moving somewhere for opportunities, etc.) Are either of you in serious debt?

You get the idea. These kinds of things aren't as lovely as being in love, but when I hear people much older than me clucking their tongues because they think someone is too young to get married, it's often because these important things haven't been figured out.

Anonymous said...

I am shocked you would advise a young girl of 19 to marry someone she hardly knows. Her brain is not even fully developed yet - that happens around 21. Yes, there are a few couples that married young and stayed married for a long time - myself included. Married at 20, was married for 30 years, now divorced. Because I married so young and in married in the temple, I believed I had to stay at any cost. I should have left a decade ago. If I had it to do over, I would have waited and married someone else.

Anonymous said...

Her father and church leaders are telling her not to get married yet. You should leave it alone Joe, line of authority and all that, you know.

Dave Johnston said...

@ Lauren - and thus "Bro Jo's List of Stuff You Need to Know Before You Get Engaged" - we agree again!

@ divorced Anonymous -

1) they've been dating for over a year

2) as mentioned above, I suggested that she insure she knows him very well by going through the "List of Stuff You Need to Know"

3) I don't know what the "cost" is that you had to pay, or why you didn't leave him at 40 instead of 50, but we Older Folks need to be careful that we don't let our own bitterness and regrets keep the Younger Folks from happiness

4) we'd all do stuff different if we could go back knowing what we know now, but one hard truth to face is that if we went back only knowing what we knew then, we'd make the exact same decisions.

5) if THAT opinion shocks you, you're going to be floored by some of my other stuff

@ Anon who thinks my name is "Joe" -

1) I gave her my opinion because she asked

2) I advised her to go ask those people for their reasoning - simply saying "19 is too young" isn't enough - and suggested to her that they may know more, or be seeing something that she is not

3) When it comes to a woman's decision as to when and whom she should marry, there's no such thing as "line of authority" - she may ask parental and leadership advice, culturally the couple may seek the blessing or approval of their family members, but the "stewardship" for this choice is hers alone.

Her Bishop could say "I don't think you should marry this guy at this time, and here's why . . .", her mother may feel, or receive a prompting that this isn't going to go well, but this is one of those decisions that really are between the individual and the Lord.

Sure, information precedes revelation, and its good to ask for advice from people who know stuff, and know you well (if you go back and READ what I wrote, I very clearly stated that I don't know her, that they do, and that she should seek clarification from them).

One reality that need to be said is this: often when people tell adults that they're "too young to get married" what they're really saying is "I'm not yet emotionally prepared to face the fact that you're old enough to be at this stage in your life".

I can't begin to count the many times I've talked to parents who are "freaked out" that their adult children are ready to start families of their own; "too young!" they all cry . . . but they're not thinking of the children, they're thinking of themselves, deep down they think that they are the ones that are "too young", afraid to accept this new phase of life.

- Bro Jo

Anneliese said...

It's people like "divorced Anonymous" that make me absolutely terrified of marriage.

If you have any inspiring words to counteract that negativity, Bro Jo, I'd really appreciate it. I've received a lot of revelation that marrying my fiance really is the right thing to do, but lately I've been doing a lot of crying from the fear of it. So many years of hearing bitter divorcees and unhappy spouses mope and complain. I am scared.

Dave Johnston said...

@ Anneliese,

Good things come from God; bad things come from Satan, and that includes being afraid of Good Things.

If you've gone through "Bro Jo's Five A's of Why Not to Marry THAT Person", and you feel comfortable with the "Things Everyone Should Know Before They Get Engaged", and (most importantly) the Spirit has confirmed that this is the right thing to do, then Be Happy and Get Married. Remember, Information Precedes Revelation, so if you have all the info you need, and you've gotten the confirmation, it would be silly not to go forward.

Young People should never allow the counsel of the bitter to keep them from following their hearts, their dreams, and their righteous desires.

Sure, you could be making a mistake, but if you love him and are willing to put him before yourself, AND if he loves you and is willing to put you before himself, then pay no attention to "divorced Anonymous" and people like her.


- Bro Jo

Jdawg said...

Taking marital advice from a bitterly divorced person is like taking nutritional advice from an obese person.

RJ said...

My wife married me when she was 19. Her extended family tried to stop it but she felt it was right. I think Bro Jo is right, it depends on the maturity level of the individual and if they feel they are ready for the more "grown up" responsibilities. Some are, some aren't.