Is There a "Right" Age for Marriage?
"I Married at 16"
First, I had [a] personal experience with this. I married at 16 to my then 19-year-old husband. We managed to remain married for 10 years before a personal crisis in my own life threw me completely off balance and I left the marriage. I was definitely too young, too wounded and needy to be married. However, I think my ex-husband was a different story. He tried hard to save our marriage, and when he could not [he] married not long after our divorce and is still married after over 20 years. So he was mature enough at that young age, I was not. I think that is the problem with this question.
Second, I have the privilege of working with several young people from 16 to their early twenties. They seem to fall into two categories. Those who married and/or had children at a young age and those who did not and are in college or college bound. I watch the young people in the first category really struggle to make ends meet and make relationships work. Many are now single mothers. It seems that though they are doing their best, they were not truly prepared for the responsibilities they now have.
The second group seems no more ready for marriage. Most of them don't even know "what they want to be when they grow up". Many have not even declared a major or have changed it more than once. If you are not ready to declare you career goals, why would you think you are ready to make a lifetime commitment to one person.
That said, I think that marriage is overrated in America. Why do I need to be married to be happy. Can't I be single or in a committed relationship without marriage? I think there is no shame in saying, this is not working anymore and deciding to end a relationship. When people married for life, they had a much shorter expectation of life span, had more support from extended family and were less isolated in general. We live in a different world now.
I would add one caveat to this. If you have children in a marriage, I believe you owe it to them to try to make it work. Divorce is very hard on children. However, that too can be okay if both parents can put the kids first after the divorce.
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