Monday, April 18, 2011

Why Should We Marry Younger than the Modern, Industrial World's Average?

Strictly from a practical standpoint, the effects of marrying at 27 - 30 include:

1) Waiting to marry decreases the available pool from which to marry. That's simple mathematics.

2) Postponing marriage to someone whom you love and want to marry increases the potential for pre-marital sex exponentially - especially if you find that someone and feel that way at 22 and have to wait for 5 years or more to get married.

3) Waiting to have kids until after 35 radically increases the risk of lots of birth defects. Marrying at 30 leaves a window of only five years for those who want to have their kids prior to that age.

4) Having three kids in five years certainly is doable and not at all harmful for many, but it will derail the wife's career in many cases - and will be hard on anyone who has extended post-partum issues.

5) Waiting to get married at such an age that 3 or fewer kids is the only "safe" option doesn't leave any room for those who want more - especially if they want 5 or more. Our kids are 14 years apart, spaced and planned meticulously, and our oldest was born almost two years after we were married, so my wife would have been 43 years old when our youngest was born if we had married when she was 27. Our last two would have been born after the 35 year target and been subject to increased risk as a result.

6) If our youngest had been born when we were 43, she would not graduate until we were 61 - at which point I would be considering retirement. Not only do I not want to be dealing with a teenager when I am 61 and multiple times a grandfather, but I also want to have a few years left in my 50's to be alone with my wife and have some freedom BEFORE I contemplate retirement. Currently, we have 6 kids, and the youngest will graduate when I am 54. That's a BIG difference.

7) A mature 24 is much better in a marriage and family than an immature 30.

There's more I could add, but starting that much later has consequences that must be considered - especially when the data suggests marrying after 21 removes almost all increase in divorce rate that can be attributed primarily to age. 

[NOTE: I am NOT saying in this post that everyone should marry before the modern average age mentioned in the opening sentence.  That is a personal decision and each person should marry at whatever age is best for him or her.  This post is about a general societal trend and its very real implications and complications.]


Anonymous said...

I think the biggest reason to be willing to marry early is that if you want to find someone to marry, you need to be open to the possibility for a nice long chunk of time. If you are open to that possibility from age 20-35, you up your chances, vs. wasting 5-10 years of that time with your eyes closed.
I married earlier than I had assumed I would marry. However, I was dating and didn't keep myself closed off to the possibility. Once I found someone that I loved and could imagine marrying I was perfectly willing to pray and seriously consider him as a husband and make a good decision.
How sad if he had been unwilling to consider marriage at age 22, or me at 20. We were 23 (almost 24) and 21 when we married. If we weren't willing to go there, we would have eventually broken up and gone on with our lives. How very sad.
My husband isn't perfect. We've had some challenges. But after 18 years of marriage I am so incredibly grateful that we have each other and have been on this journey together.
It is heartbreaking that we could have passed that up. I know people who have not yet married.

Richard Alger said...

Marriage is good. Marrying young and having children young I think gets us moving towards what God would have us become. We live to give our lives to our children. To serve them. We begin to understand what it is like to have children who have a mind of their own. We learn to put the needs of our spouse above our own and balance it with our own needs and wants.

Anonymous said...

You forgot to list another couple of important reasons. If you have children when you are older, you increase the chance that your children may not be fully grown when you die. Also, biologically speaking, the early and mid twenties are the prime child-bearing ages for women. Those who wait until their thirties tend to have more fertility problems.

Conifer said...

I think the best thing about having kids young is that if you end up not having very many they're out of the house while you are still very young. We had two before 25 and it looks like that will need to be all we have. I am kind of excited about the idea of both kids being out of the house in my early 40's. Of course, things may change and we might adopt later, but for now this is what things look like.

Anonymous said...

Just so you know, there are a jillion reasons not to marry young. What is truly horrible is the thought of who I would've married had I married younger. Waiting until I was almost 30 enabled me to grow, mature, experience life, start my career, be financially stable and independent before marrying (and certainly before kids). TRUST ME: Having kids at ANY AGE requires you to serve them. This is NOT exclusive to young parents, who are still kids themselves. Also, many young parents end up on the government dole to afford those kids, which is a shame. By the way, yes birth defects rise as one ages, but by a percent or two. It's really not that significant. I would not advocate marrying young so one could start having sin-free sex. That causes all sorts of problems. I think young marriage sucks and hope my daughters don't marry before they are at least 25 and hopefully closer to 30. It's why I won't allow them to go to BYU.

Papa D said...

Anonymous, I have six kids. I understand what it takes to raise them - and my disclaimer at the end of the post addresses pretty much everything you mention.

By younger than 27-30 (the average I cited), I do NOT mean younger than 21 (the point at which divorce statistics don't change).

Patty said...

It's sad to see the marriage age continue rising in our culture and also how much marriage is devalued at the same time. This was brought up very well in the book "What Our Mothers Didn't Tell Us" which explains why modern thinking about marriage and relationships hasn't worked out so well.