Young Marriage

by Mark Gungor

“A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within.” – Ariel Durant

There has been quite a lot of press recently voicing opposition to young people marrying.  Many have decried the marriage of 18-25 year olds as a terrible idea since they are “too young”. But it wasn’t long ago that such marriages would not have been thought of as unusual.

“The traditional markers of manhood — leaving home, getting an education, starting a family and starting work — have moved downfield as the passage from adolescence to adulthood has evolved,” says Michael Kimmel, author of Guyland. For instance, in 1960, almost 70 percent of men had reached these milestones by the age of 30; today, less than a third of males can say the same.

Some of the most successful marriages in the world started with two teenagers. Indeed, it is difficult to reach 75 years of marriage if one waits till he is 30 to say “I do” – you’re pretty much dead by then.

Even biology challenges us to rethink delayed marriage. According to U.S. researchers who analyzed census data and information from genealogical records, children born when their mothers were under 25 were almost twice as likely to live to their 100th birthday and beyond and University of Chicago husband and wife team Dr Leonid Gavrilov and Dr Natalia Gavrilova have shown that firstborn children live longer than their younger siblings. It appears the two are linked, with older children living longer because their mothers are younger when they have them.

Studies have also shown that it takes longer for older men to conceive. Starting in their 20s, men face steadily increasing chances of infertility, fathering an unsuccessful pregnancy, and passing on to their children a genetic mutation that causes dwarfism. “We [now] know the probability for certain types of DNA damage goes up with age, and we can give you a mathematical probability,” said Andrew Wyrobek, a researcher at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California.

Not only is it bad to our children’s health to delay marriage and child birth, this delay is also resulting in increasingly lower birth rates which may be bad for the longevity of Western culture. According to Mark Steyn, the low birth rates already at play in Europe are a prescription for the end of Western civilization.

Seventeen European nations are now at what demographers call “lowest-low” fertility – 1.3 births per woman, the point at which you’re so far down the death spiral you can’t pull out. In theory, those countries will find their population halving every 35 years or so. In practice, it will be quicker than that, as the savvier youngsters figure there’s no point sticking around a country that’s turned into an undertaker’s waiting room. So large parts of the western world are literally dying – and, in Europe, the successor population to those aging French and Dutch and Belgians is already in place.

Indeed, those who marry younger and produce more children will be the ones who will dominate the US culture in the not-too-distant future. Dr. Arthur Brooks of Syracuse University writes:

Simply put, liberals have a big baby problem: They’re not having enough of them, they haven’t for a long time, and their pool of potential new voters is suffering as a result. According to the 2004 General Social Survey, if you picked 100 unrelated politically liberal adults at random, you would find that they had, between them, 147 children. If you picked 100 conservatives, you would find 208 kids. That’s a ‘fertility gap’ of 41%… A state that was split 50-50 between left and right in 2004 will tilt right by 2012, 54% to 46%. By 2020, it will be certifiably right-wing, 59% to 41%. A state that is currently 55-45 in favor of liberals (like California) will be 54-46 in favor of conservatives by 2020—and all for no other reason than babies.

We know that sexual activity before marriage increases the likelihood of a divorce. We also know that couples who live together also have an even higher rate of divorce. But then we tell young people today that they should wait till they are almost 30 to marry – an age that will most likely guarantee they will have been already sexually active or even living with someone.

Even in the Christian community (a group who should know better) we push and encourage delayed marriage. Christian parents even threaten their young people with negative consequences if they marry young. “We won’t pay for your education!” “You’ll have to pay for your own wedding!” “We’ll disown you!” We pull all financial and emotional support from the young couple and then when they fail, we rush back to them with “I told you so…”

Mormons bring an interesting perspective to marriage. Only 6% of those who follow the demands surrounding a temple marriage end up in divorce. Six percent! But it’s not just a question of getting married in a certain place. Leaders claim it’s that the church requires the candidates for marriage to be people of character—people who stick to their commitments of love and of asking for help, if they need it. What is so striking is that many of these marriages happen between couples still in their teens!

Then there is a threat that almost no one seems to consider: the elimination of grandparents. The culture of divorce that has been ripping and tearing at our national family structure has, so far, failed to destroy us. Though the documentation of the damage divorce does to people and particularly their children is sufficiently solid, American homes (though patched and sown together) have been able to hold together to some degree. This has been in large part due to the presence of grandparents. Those wonderful people who love their grandchildren unconditionally and whose age, wisdom and financial resources have played a key role – in some cases the key role – as stabilizers in those children’s lives. Those who delay marriage (and subsequently child rearing) are denying themselves one of the greatest joys men and women have cherished for millennia: to participate in the lives of their grandchildren.

For centuries, men and women became grandparents when they were in their late 40’s and early 50’s – allowing them plenty of time to enjoy and participate in their grandchildren’s lives. Then in their 70’s and 80’s they witnessed the arrival of their great-grandchildren. People who delay marriage and family today, however, do not realize how greatly they are cheating themselves by making it virtually impossible to experience their grandchildren. And for what? An extended adolescence? To drink more beer or to experiment with more sexual partners? To focus on their careers and a chance to make money more quickly than their parents did?

If Bobby and Suzie wait till almost 30 to marry and then 35 or greater to have children and their children do the same… well just do the math – they’ll be 70 before their first grandchildren are even born. Depending on their health and longevity, they are at risk for not being able to enjoy those children’s lives.

There is an even a greater tragedy that will occur than just people not being able to enjoy their grandchildren. As I already stated, grandparents have been the very glue that has helped struggling families stay together or to at least make their grandchildren feel safe should their parent’s marriage fail. According to US Census Bureau statistics:

  • 6.1 million grandparents have grandchildren younger than 18 living with them
  • 2.5 million grandparents are responsible for most of the basic needs of one or more grandchildren
  • 918,000 grandparents have been responsible for caring for their grandchildren for at least the past five years
  • 477,000 grandparents have an income below the poverty level and are still caring for their grandchildren

But by delaying marriage and children today, we are participating in the foolish and systematic removal of grandparents altogether. When the kids of the next generation are 7, 10, or 12 years of age there won’t be many grandparents to speak of. The final blow to the American family will be complete.

Sadly, many pastors and marriage proponents themselves are participating in the destruction of the very institution they seek to save by joining in this foolish call for delayed matrimony.

No matter what the statisticians say, marriages do not fail because of age, money or education – many of the underlying arguments for delaying marriage. Such thinking is utter nonsense. Marriages fail for one reason and one reason only: one or both people become selfish. To imply that young, poor or high-school graduates are incapable of real commitment is an insult. I find it curious that we have young, poor, high-school graduates fighting for our interests overseas with great commitment – some giving the very last measure of commitment by sacrificing their very lives for their fellow soldiers.

Someday historians will write of the end of Western civilization. I am sure that our propensity for selfishness and narcissistic behaviors is what they will point to as the reason for our demise.

Advocating for delayed marriage will be just one more reason we will succeed in destroying ourselves from within.

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    79 Responses to “Young Marriage”

    1. Susie Higgins wrote:

      You are such an inspiration and always uplifting and encouraging. My husband and I have celebrated 18 years married and we have two amazing children, 14 and 11 years old respectively. We married young at 21 years old and God is still our provider and blesses us beyond belief. There is no wealth you can possess but a healthy, happy, loving and rewarding marriage and healthy families. We encourage both our children to find happiness and marry when they are younger. It is so much easier to grow ‘together’ and live out God’s unique assignment on your life as you can stretch and learn together. When you go without when you are younger – you truly don’t feel like you are missing out! Who can put a price on the blessing of the gift of life!

    2. Elannah wrote:

      It is refreshing to read an article from the opposite view. I strongly disagree on our culture’s view on appropriate marriage age.
      My husband and I married in our early twenties and people still say “oh you’re married” or “you’re too young”. Well I’m already married and they don’t know us!

      I can’t imagine what I would do without my grandparents. It makes be sad to think that grandparents will be something rare. I was lucky to know my great grandmother..

    3. Tina wrote:

      I met my husband at age 14 we were married in 1984 when I turned 18 he is 6 years older than I am. We are happily married and have been for 29 years. Looking back at life I felt I missed out on a lot getting married so young. I did I missed out on a whole lot of sin. I am so glad I got married young so I could grow up with my husband and become the person I am today. If you get married late you are already a complete person who has to change to accommodate another person a husband in your life. You get set in your ways. By getting married young you can grow together and become one. I do think young people should get an education before having a family but I am not against kids marrying young. I fear I will not be able to enjoy grandchildren as my children are now in the mid to late 20′s and no sign of marriage yet. I hope I can be there for them if they ever get married. Kids today are to selfish to get married. It is all about them and no one else.

    4. Kathi wrote:

      I love your weekly newsletter. It is right on with what is going on with marriage and life in general. Keep talking, keep teaching. It is important!

      I share your article each week with friends and family!

      Kathi

    5. Josh wrote:

      I got married when I was 20, but I’d just like to say I found many of these statistics secondary to your points. I also find it a disservice to completely rely on the elderly for help with your marriage/kids.

    6. Lewis Rempel wrote:

      For a long time now I have been in favor of young marriages. My Oldest children (3 of them) were all married before the age of 20. My oldest son has been married for 9 years and has 2 wonderful children. I have seen how getting married at an early age has helped all of them in their relationships. Getting married young has forced them to take on more responsibilities, be more accountable to their spouse, it has kept them out of trouble, it has helped them mature and grow together in thought, goals and unity. Rather than come together later in life with a kinds of baggage of past relationships, they have come together without all that stuff. I also was married at the age of 18, my wife was 17 and we have been married now for 28 years. Young marriage is a wonderful thing, when the young people getting married have a supporting family around them.

    7. Fantasia wrote:

      This is very interesting. I agree with a lot of it.

    8. No No wrote:

      No.

    9. Kayla Hutchinson wrote:

      I love this article. It makes so many valid points that I am always racking my brain to share my reasoning on wanting to marry young but can never find the words. I am 19 and my boyfriend of over 2 years is planning on proposing very soon according to him. I have mentioned to my parents and asked how they would feel if I got married young and they threaten to cut me off completely (they are paying for my college as of right now) so hearing this come from my parents is heart breaking I want to more than ever to share this with them and it is very discouraging. But after reading articles like this I become more and more confident in following my heart, thank you for sharing this blog.

    10. Jaaziel Ozuna wrote:

      I do agree when you say that marriages end because of selfishness. If someone were to wait until they are 25-30 to get married because they want to travel, find themselves, get their career on a role, etc. would that be considered selfish? When a couple does marry I would find it smart to take a couple years before having a family to enjoy their husband/wife.

      I agree that you shouldn’t wait until your late 30′s to have kids because it increases medical challenges, BUT if you rush into a marriage because you’re in love without giving it much thought I can find that to be just as selfish. I think its a balance of both, getting married too young isn’t too smart but getting married much later in life can cause problems as well.

    11. Lexi wrote:

      We extend adolescence and prolong the transition into things like career and family because of an increasing need for education in a society with a failing economy that is now forced to compete on a global scale. I would disagree by saying that many people in their early 20′s these days do not delay marriage because of selfishness, disinterest in marriage, or a desire for more sexual partners, but instead due to a lack of financial security. People in their early 20′s are forced to continue living with their parents or depend on their parents for some sort of financial support because they graduate from college thousands of dollars in debt to an economy where they are forced to work several minimum wage jobs in order to gain resume experience that may or may not get them hired one day. Getting married in such a state just adds to the chaos. Give twenty somethings a break. They can’t graduate from highschool, go to college, get a job, get married, buy a house and have a couple kids by the age of 21 anymore.
      It’s not realistic by today’s standards for ANYONE.

     
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