Jan 262016 4 Responses

Don’t Delay (or Rush) Marriage

It’s an unplanned societal experiment. Young people are choosing to delay marriage in a way no society has ever chosen to do. The consequences of this decision are yet to be seen.

Maybe it will be useful. The thought is that by putting career first, someone will enter marriage more focused and mature. It’s a fair hope.

My concern that that there may be some unintended consequences of this experiment.

Don’t Rush

I agree, marriage shouldn’t be rushed. While there was a time in which marrying at a young age (18-21) was normal, it is not advisable. (See: Dating to Break-up–a unique perspective on dating)

One of the most predictable characteristics of divorce is getting married too young. While there are exceptions, couples who get married before age 22 have greatly increased divorce rates. 18, 19, and 20-year-olds generally do not have enough life experience to make the important choice of marriage. There is no downside to delaying the decision, but plenty of upside to ensure a wise choice.

The late teenage years and early twenties is a special season of life which should be greatly enjoyed. While fun should not be the primary focus (sorry college students), it should be a byproduct as young people transition to adulthood and begin creating the life they want.

In the past, getting married during this season was normal, but in today’s culture it is too early. The transition from 20 to 23 may not seem like much, but it is an important maturing process that is necessary before marriage.

Don’t Delay

However, we cannot assume that waiting for the end of college before marriage automatically  means waiting another ten years will make marriage so much better.

I fear it won’t. (See: Date Well to Marry Well)

While not rushing marriage is important, I also worry about attempting to delay marriage.

Choosing to delay marriage, may:

Delay maturity. Particularly for men, marriage is a maturing event. It’s important to be mature before marriage, but few things cause us to grow up as much as marriage. If marriage is delayed, I fear maturity might be delayed as well. Instead of growing up and getting married, men may be tempted to stay immature which will actually hinder relationships.

Encourage selfishness. One strength of getting married at a younger age is not experiencing a long period of time of living alone. If a person leaves home for college, lives in the college life, and then moves out for a short period of time on their own, they won’t necessarily grow accustomed to living alone. One of the difficult adjustments I hear from people who marry later in life is the struggle of learning to live with another person–sharing everything, submitting to one another, never being fully alone. To delay marriage may make this adjustment more difficult.

Hinder healthy marriage. While we can delay marriage, we cannot delay the physical development of individuals. As marriage is delayed, sexual activity outside of marriage increases. Many couples act married without being married which hinders healthy relationships. Sex needs commitment. To engage in the former without the latter, diminishes a person’s chances of having a healthy marriage. The number of couples living together near the age of 25 reveals it is a natural age for marriage. Sadly, many have exchanged the power of a life-long commitment with a temporary arrangement of living together.

Limit options. Many who intentionally delay marriage in order to start a career are surprised by the limited choices they have latter in life. College can be a nearly limitless pool of possibility for relationships, but in your early 30s the options can be much more limited. A person is free to delay marriage, but they should not assume their options will be limitless later in life. I regularly hear from people who are now ready for marriage, but they can’t find an eligible candidate.

Dash Dreams. One of the most shocking aspects of the pastorate was learning how difficult it is for many people to have children. I never knew it was a struggle until I started marrying couples and hearing their disappointment. The danger in delaying marriage is it closes the window in which a person can have children and pushes the attempt into older ages which adds to complications. It also causes couples to start trying to have kids as soon as they get married instead of taking the first few years for themselves.

There are many times in which life delays marriage. Not by our own choice, but because of a series of circumstances, we don’t get married in our mid-20s. These delays don’t mean we are hopeless, can’t experience a good marriage, or are doomed. One can get married at 25 and have a horrible marriage while another can marry at 45 and have a great marriage. (See: Love a Person, Not the Idea of Love)

This article isn’t about individual decisions. I’m concerned about general trends. I think it is a bad idea for a delayed marriage to become the norm. Too many people do not consider the negative consequences which may occur.

What do you think is a good age for marriage to occur?

4 Responses to Don’t Delay (or Rush) Marriage

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