Call me old fashioned, but it’s OK to marry young
Recent ABS figures showed marriage in Australia is becoming more popular, while divorce rates are falling. They also showed the average age we’re getting married has increased to 29.6 for men and 27.7 for women.
For this to be the average, plenty of people are still getting married in their 20s or even late teens – but it’s not for lack of people telling them they’re making a mistake.
It’s rude to tell people they’re making a mistake when they’re buying a house, changing careers, or deciding to have kids. Why, then, is it OK to berate people for getting married when they’re young and in love?
While I’m in no rush to get married myself, I find it strange that people can criticise the decisions of others to marry in their 20s so harshly – and openly.
One of my best friends is getting married in November. She and her partner will both be 25 and they’ve been together for over seven years and are currently living together. While not the norm in my age group, they fact they’re about to get married is not uncommon.
But when she meets people out at social events she’s often harshly criticized for her choice, told she is too young, making a mistake. The people saying this to her are generally complete strangers (and if not, they’re off the wedding invite list).
While it’s not usual to get unsolicited advice from your typical loud-mouthed wanker at the pub, it shows a wider view in society that getting married in your early- to mid-twenties is a bad decision.
As the impending wedding comes up in conversation everyone I speak to seems to have an opinion. After recovering from the initial shock at learning I have a friend, most of them decide that the couple is too young.
Some go on to say they made the same mistake when they were younger and wish they’d done more with their life before settling down. But you don’t have to be married young to experience marital problems or life regrets.
Another friend has fallen in love. She and her partner (aged 30) are going to get married. Since they’ve only been together for about a year they’ve decided to wait awhile to get engaged for “society’s sake”. They don’t want to cause a stir and be judged for rushing into anything.
This is the only reason they are waiting to get married. It’s not because they’re unsure about being together forever or want to travel the world first. It demonstrates that marriage, while apparently being about two individuals (and sometimes God) it actually involves a whole lot more than that – in fact everyone feels they can and should express their opinion about it.
In the case of this couple they are particularly worried what their families would think. While being about two people, marriage is also about the joining of two families. How much should their opinions matter?
After all, if you’d got a say in who you were related to you’d probably try and find a brother who doesn’t clip his toenails at the kitchen table, or a sister who doesn’t use all the milk and put the empty carton back. Is anyone ever good enough for a family member to marry?
If a good friend disapproves of the marriage because you’re too young, it will be for slightly different reasons. They might dislike the future they’re envisaged staring across the table at your partner at dinner parties in years to come, arguing about the rules to Pictionary. Alternatively they may just disagree with the idea of marriage altogether, at least for the next ten years, wishing their friends weren’t becoming “boring and married” and would stay out till 5am every Saturday like they used to.
Well, you don’t have to be married to be boring and even the trashiest party animal is likely to calm down at some stage – married or not.
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