I feel slightly validated. I had noticed what appeared to be a trend of people my age getting married more and more, and it turns out it wasn’t just me. According to the Census Bureau, the ones who spend our tax money on studies that change nothing and interest nobody, teenage marriages increased by almost 50 percent in the 1990s. Even though the number doubled, it’s still a low 4.5 percent of people in that age group.
What I want to know is, what’s the rush? Even though it’s uncommon, it still goes on. Does it make me sound outdated saying that people at that age should be dating and having fun and stuff? It’s not like there isn’t time to get married, especially with people living to older and older ages nowadays.
David Popenoe from the National Marriage Project at Rutgers says, “There’s been a slight trend toward conservatism among teens, less premarital sex, more fear of disease.” If it’s one thing that’s going to promote a healthy marriage, I think, it’s fear of disease.
I’m all for monogamous relationships, but marriage is a big step and not one that should be taken lightly. You’re not even old enough to vote until you’re 18, for crying out loud, why would you get married at so young an age? Even when you vote the consequences of electing the wrong person can be rectified in four years. Marriage is supposed to be forever (I’ll ignore everyone that laughed at that).
According the AP article “some researchers” think that the trend might be due to people wanting to wait until marriage for sex. Getting married to have sex is something so stupid that I hope it’s not true, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it were. Abstaining until marriage is useless if you are going to make a bad decision like getting married so you can say you held out.
Luckily, even though teen marriages are on the rise, it still runs against the larger tendency, which is that people are getting married later in life. The median age for a man’s first marriage is 26.8 in 2000, which was up from 26.1 in 1990. For women, it was 25.1 in 2000, up from 23.9 in 1990. The median ages in 1950, if you’re interested, were 22.8 and 20.3 for men and women, respectively.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, which is where I go when I have trouble sleeping, nearly half of all marriages where the bride is under 18 end in divorce within a decade. The number is half of that for women 25 and older. I know, however, that all the statistics in the world will not prevent matrimony if both parties are set on getting married.
My favorite theory for the rise in marriages in this age group is that they are marrying to take advantage of welfare programs that give incentives to married couples. How romantic would that proposal be? “Honey, I really need more welfare. Will you marry me?”
If you are 17-19 (you’re probably on the upper end of that if you’re reading this) and about to get married, I doubt any of this made any real dent. You’re probably telling yourself that you’ll overcome the odds, which is always a possibility. My hope is that you are seriously thinking of all the ramifications of what you are considering. There are a lot of things that can go wrong. Seriously, marriage is a big step, be sure you’re mature enough to handle it no matter how old you are.
Chris Ricketts is a junior majoringin English.