Why one should marry young

Why one should marry young

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach answers a question on whether 20 is too young to get married. He says that while everyone is different and maturity is an individual matter in general marrying young is better. He gives five reasons for why marrying young is good. (I’m summarizing with the bullet points here:

1. Marrying young means you grow up together. …

2. Marrying young means avoiding the ten or so years that most people waste dating. …

3. Marrying young means avoiding the multiple sexual partners that most singles have. …

4. Marrying young means avoiding loneliness. …

5. Marrying young means having children earlier, and not becoming a parent when you should already be a grand-parent. …

Granted I didn’t meet the love of my life until I was in my mid-30s, but had I met Melanie at 20, knowing what I know now, I could have avoided years of loneliness and heartbreak and my own daughter would be 17 years old now and we could have had all the other children we hope to have. I think too many people put off marriage and family under the misguided impression that they need to make all kinds of money first or have all kinds of experience first and that your life ends when you get married and have kids.

Oh man, I want to tell those people that life’s adventure is only just beginning when you marry. Stop getting your idea of what marriage is from TV and movies and the failed marriages of the generation before you. It’s so much better than the horror stories people tell you to make themselves look like martyrs.

And guys? Some of the most amazing women out there are not interested in “hooking up” with you. They’re waiting for you to get your head on straight and get serious. They’re looking for men to marry and commit to them. And don’t miss this fact: A good wife is better than anything else you’ll ever find in your single life. That’s from the Bible, guys. All you married men, back me up here!

The most underestimated problem of the vocations crisis is that we also have a crisis in marriage. If we had more Catholics marrying and not putting off their families, we’d have more priests. I’ll state that as a fact.

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
48 comments
  • The most underestimated problem of the vocations crisis is that we also have a crisis in marriage. If we had more Catholics marrying and not putting off their families, we’d have more priests.

    Dead on here Dom. Sacrifice begets sacrifice if you understand my meaning.

    I got married just shy of 21.  if I had to do it all over, I would skip the tough years of marriage were I was concerned about “getting my share” or being selfish with time.  This hits on a topic I have been thing about lately.  All the years I wasted looking to find happiness in selfish pursuits.  And I finally found true happiness in self-sacrifice and selfless service. 

    I know that sounds like how TV portrays Christians with the long face and dull lives claiming they are happy.  Truth is, the dullness and sadness of being lonely and selfish are the real downers.  It is hard to explain unless you have experienced it.  But take Pascal’s wager and live it for several weeks, a couple months and see what difference it makes.

  • I married at age 20, right after final exams of my junior year of college.  I don’t regret it for a second.  DH & I have eight kids now and still time for more, God willing. 

    And I sincerely hope that a few of the “answers” to the vocations crisis are bouncing around my family room as I write this, building a fort out of blankets and pillows.  grin

  • You right Dominic, the crisis in vocations to both the priesthood and religious life and in marriage is a crisis of (i.e. fear of) commitment and faithfulness.

  • Dom:

    At age 20, the only girls interested in getting married are those who’ve been dating their college boyfriend for a year to three already.

    There may be the occasional Steubenville student, or white-trash chick jonesing for male attention of the gemological kind, but that’s the fact of the matter.

    Say what you will, 99% of the women/girls you meet at that age are only interested in sex and drinking and narcissism.  It’s only as they approach 30 and fear dying alone and childless do they get serious about life.  And why?  It probably has less to do with the fear than the fact that the guys they would have been interested in fooling around with are now looking at the 24 year old women.  In other words, upon passing the hump they realize “Oh s—t!  Better lock in a good guy before it’s too late!”

    None of my students (I’m a professor) go to church, and I can fairly accurately say that only one or two of them over the past few years were even considering marriage.  Moreover, I don’t see any women between 18 and 30 at my parishes either, and those in their 30s are married with kids.

    A guy doesn’t have a chance anymore of finding some girl to marry at 20 – certainly not the kind to get your imprimatur.

    Moreover, your analysis regarding priests assumes that the more Catholics you have, the more priests you’d have.  An erroneous presumption.  The priests came from teenage seminaries in years past   – which nobody would send their kids anymore, and where the homosexual subculture was founded.

    Were there to be larger families today, there still would be no priests, because faith is dead in the RC Church.  The Church persists because of reproduction and immigration alone, but surveys about beliefs about Transsubstantiation – among other things – reveal that nobody really believes anymore.  Therefore, why would a boy devote his life to leading gay Church services with bad music and silly lecturing about the mundane inanities of life?  Do tell!

    He might bring his wife & kids out of guilt, or out of a sense that “it was the right thing to do” but he’s not going to give up sex for it.

    There is no longer any relationship between the priest population and the lay population.

    And by now, I’ll bet that 80% of boys have gotten a blow—- by the end of their freshman year of high school (Hey, at least they won’t remember Father X being at the receiving end at the high-school seminary).  If they’re lucky, the girl on the other end will stick with him until graduation, and they can get married at age 20! lol

  • Wow, you have an entirely too pessimistic view of the world. I think your assumptions are based on nothing more than anecdotal evidence: the college kids you think you know everything about in your classes.

    I’m not denying things are bad, and I’m also not claiming that all these drunken party boys and girls are secretly saints. I’m saying that there is a significant number of good Catholic kids and young adults out there looking for the right person to marry. Go on CatholicMatch.com sometime and see how many thousands of people are looking for a good Catholic to start a life with.

    On the priest thing, if you’re disputing with me you’re disputing with Pope John Paul because he said the same thing. Again, you have an entirely pessimistic view of the Church. Hope is a theological virtue. Remember that the gates of hell will not prevail.

    Knowing nothing about except what you’ve written here, I’m concluding that you are either sad, lonely, or angry or all three. That’s not an insult, but just an observation to maybe help you realize that perhaps the world is not as bleak as you make it out to be.

  • The sociological data suggests that, if you want to stay married, wait until age 28 or thereabouts.  Divorce rates fall significantly for those who are older at the time of their first marriage.  For someone who has an idea of marriage that involves sacrifice and commitment, not some stary eyes idea of great romance and untested trust that “true love” will get them through anything, it can work younger.  How many 20 year olds have gotten past self centeredness that dooms marriages?

  • I was 24 and my wife 21.  This was ten years ago.  We had rough years but it is having survived those years together that binds us so close now.  I often wonder how people could divorce and remarry.  What would I have in common with a woman who didn’t survive what my wife and I survived?  We don’t always get along, but our history is too intertwined to ever extricate ourselves from it. 

    Doesn’t sound like “love” to modernists but real love is loyalty, need, fear, loneliness and courage all wrapped up in one.

    Kozaburo sounds like a typical college-educator ding-dong who is probably abusing his students.

  • “Wow, you have an entirely too pessimistic view of the world…”

    So do I. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is whether it is true or not.

    Personally, I can’t imagine having married at 20, let alone having the sense God gave a duck for finding a suitable partner. This is one of those things where it’s different for everybody, and anybody who says otherwise has only anecdotal evidence, which is a long way from rocket science. The sooner we realize that, the sooner we stop putting pressure on young people to “find their vocation” on a deadline, so they end up marrying for the wrong reason. Society is no longer the glue that holds a less-than-ideal marriage together, so that’s one luxury we’ll be living without for awhile.

    Besides, it’s not our deadline; it’s God’s.

  • DGS—I wouldn’t recommend marriage @ 20 for everybody.  But I knew that DH & I both had good, solid formation on the nature of marriage.  While we were both crazy about each other, we married to help each other be saints, as well as whatever children God sent.  Really.

    And DH&I are both purely post-VII babies.  Yet we both still managed to learn the truth about the nature of marriage, and to find each other on a secular college campus.  Obviously not evrybody is “there” yet at 20, but some are…

  • Let’s be honest. The pressure today is not on people to marry to young, but to extend adolescence well into their twenties and sow their oats and act wild as long as they can.

    All this isn’t supposed to recommend marriage as a magic pill to solve all of society’s ills, but it’s to say that those who are ready at 20 should not listen to people who tell that it’s too young, but just get married if they’ve found the person they want to spend their life with.

    Keep in mind that what we’re talking about are all the pressures to ignore God’s call and to remain immature, selfish, and self-centered for as long as possible.

  • I’m thinking it would be interesting to know how many of these marriages between Catholic early-twenty somethings wind up before diocesan marriage tribunals claiming they should be granted an annulment because they were just too “immature” to enter into a valid marriage.  Anyone out there have any information on this?

  • Let’s be honest. The pressure today is not on people to marry to young, but to extend adolescence well into their twenties and sow their oats and act wild as long as they can.

    I think this statement makes sense, at least as far as I can see. For some reason, people don’t want to leave their “youth” behind…although I can’t imagine why. I know people in their thirties who still live with their parents. And I’m forever, it seems, reading about women worried about their “biological clock.”

    At age 20, the only girls interested in getting married are those who’ve been dating their college boyfriend for a year to three already.

    Gee. I met my husband at 19 and married him not quite a year later. And I have no regrets…in fact, I was the one who proposed. God didn’t will us to have children, but, as he died at age 40, I was able to enjoy being his wife for 13 years. Had I waited until 30, I’d only have had a year or so with him.

    Funny how perspectives differ. At 19-20, I certainly didn’t consider myself “young.” Although I must say I do remember considering my 27-year-old husband a bit of an older man. grin

    Requiest in pace, Bill o’ mine.

  • Ever since I can remember I wanted to be a wife and mother.    I didn’t date at all until college when I dated seriously a young man who right after college entered full time into the pro-life rescue movement.    Ultimately, he entered law school and we considered marrying him, but was quite frankly I afraid his commitment to the unborn would supercede his commitment to his family.  Eventually, we broke it off after having dated for several years.    I dated only one other man for most of my twenties.    He was a good Catholic man, from a large Catholic family.  He was a decent man and I’m sure he is making someone a wonderful husband today, but I just didn’t enjoy spending time with him as much as I felt a woman should enjoy spending time with her husband, nor did I respect his opinions and advice as much as I felt a wife should.  My only regret was that I continued to date him after I felt I shouldn’t marry him – it was very unfair of me to do that to him when I knew his intentions toward me.   

    During all that time I advanced in my career.  All the while, my job to me was a way to pay my rent and pay off my student loans, despite the fact that I was earning near six figures all I really wanted was to get married and have kids.

    When I was 28, I met my husband, who is six years older.    We hit it off instantly and I have to say I knew within a month of meeting him I wanted to marry him.  Fortunately, he felt the same way about me.  Twelve years and four children (and counting) later, we are in a strong Catholic marriage.

    Meanwhile, one of his brothers who married right after college is in a very shaky marriage.    Both he and his wife went from their parents’ homes right to married life.  He and his wife have seven children and she has decided she’s always done what her husband wanted and now it’s her turn.  She no longer wants to be married.

    I don’t know what’s in my future, but I know that having actually had a career before I had children, I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing, what I was MEANT to do.    There is no danger of me turning around one day and saying marriage and motherhood isn’t for me.   

    I don’t think early marriage is for everyone.

  • Consider that for most of human existence, until about the last third of the 20th century, twenty was considered late marriage, not early.

    And don’t give me the “people died young” baloney. In Jesus’ time people lived well into their 60s and 70s.

    Yes, you will find people who married early and divorced and people who married late and had a wonderful marriage. But let’s not miss the point: For those who believe they are ready at 20, we should encourage them, not discourage.

  • “And don’t give me the ‘people died young’ baloney.”

    I won’t, cuz it’s not baloney. It’s the average. That means some people lived way below it, some above. And most of the ones who lived below it constituted a higher infant and child mortality rate than “the last third of the 20th century,” which is about the time we stopped being a mostly rural/agrarian society. So, for most of history, the instinct to marry and procreate was more than just that, it was an imperative to ensure that enough children survived at all.

    As to discouraging people from marrying at 20, I’d love to know why this is a particular problem in this day and age, and why I should settle for the word of one author of a single book. Especially given the number of new Catholic colleges I read about with strict dating policies, that still have graduating ceremonies coinciding with engagement announcements. Who’s discouraging them?

  • Dom,

    I totally agree with you, and I’ve contended this since I was a teenager myself.  I heard my liberal relatives prate about “late marriage” and how important it was to “know yourself” before getting married, and I thought, “Isn’t the point of marriage to sacrifice?  Isn’t the point of marriage to get into it *before* you ‘know yourself’ and are ‘set in your ways’?”

    My mom married at 20.  She’s had quite a happy marriage.  My dad was older & had kids, and taking on *that* much responsibility, at 20, was a bit of a burden to her, but probably would have been just as much if she were 30.

    My wife and I married when we were both 23.  People told us we were “young.”  I thought we were marrying “old.” 
    While I had female friends before her, she was my first “girlfriend.”  I had my first date, my first kiss and my engagement on the same day (we met online-see link above).  I’d had a few fairly “serious” online relationships, but they never made it past the phone.  She had her first “boyfriend” 6 months before we met, and that relationship lasted only a couple weeks.

    We both knew what we wanted in a spouse, we put God in charge of our lives, we made prayer the main tool in our respective searches, and God led us to each other.

    The problem is not “young marriage”; it is, as you say, that today’s youth are not taught the most important things of life.  We’re scandalized that more people don’t put religion as the basis of their marriages.  Our in-laws are scandalized that we *do* put religion first.  Said her (non-practicing Catholic, Comedy-Central watching) brother, a couple years ago, regarding her family’s cumulative disapproval: “We feel like your relationship is just based on religion, and nothing else, and that’s just stupid.”

    That kind of mentality is why “young marriage” doesn’t work in our society. 

    Yes, it’s financially harder to marry young, abd that’s why, in generations past, men got married around age 30 to women who were 10 years or more younger (case in point, Louis and Zelie Martin).

    But as someone posted above, we know the lessons learned by these lean years will pay off later.  I know I’d much rather get my PhD the “slow way” and have a family to support me than to do it alone. 

    I also know that, if I weren’t married and still a young professional, I’d spend all my money on frivolous living.  Again, my wife’s brothers look down on us, financially, because we’re having kids and living in a state of poverty relative to our culture’s standards (yet we feel guilty for the opulence of our lifestyle).  They, meanwhile, are all horribly in debt from spending their money no nothing but DVDs and video games, movie theaters and comic books, not to mention alcohol, drugs, etc.

  • Having married a 27-year-old when I was 22, and having been the last of my friends to get married, I can see the argument for early marriage.  I can also see that getting married with the typical educational loans to pay off is asking for a difficult beginning.  As a parent, I would hate to see a kid marry while still an undergraduate in college.  Unstable finances can destroy a marriage.

    Watching my daughter date through her high school and college years, I have a memory of serious maturing still being on the agenda for those young men in their early 20s.  Five years can make one heck of a difference in how a young person responds to life’s trials. 

    We don’t expect our young people to act mature until they are out of college.  The transition to a job is the transition to adulthood.  I would vote no on the early marriage.

  • Dear Dom, et al.,

    The most underestimated problem of the vocations crisis is that we also have a crisis in marriage. If we had more Catholics marrying and not putting off their families, we’d have more priests. I’ll state that as a fact.

    I probably would have worded this differently.  The vocation crisis encompasses all vocations, not just ordained or religious life.  This includes married and single life. 

    I would conjecture it stems from a fear of commitment.  Witness the divorce rate.  It is too high.  Witness abortion as a fear of being a mother and making a commitment to that lifelong vocation.  Our society, as noted above, wants us to keep our options open.  The irony is in doing so we lose options.

    Some would even say we had a priestly/religious vocation crisis in 1965!  If we did, it’s nothing like today, 40 years later. 

    I look forward to reading this thread more.

  • Speaking of financial struggles, I keep hearing stories from my parents’ generation about the near-poverty they lived in during the first few years of marriage. My parents didn’t have a proper bathroom in their first apartment; the bathtub was in the bedroom! My brother’s first bassinet was the bottom drawer of a bureau. Other folks mention not having a kitchen table and eating at the living room coffee table instead. Et cetera.

    Yet, all of them recall these memories with fondness, as if it was the struggle to make it together that made them stronger.

    But now I hear from people who say they need to buy a house first or they need to save money for retirement or they need to travel around the world or whatnot.

    I would trade all the “freedom” and material goods of the past two decades if I could magically go back and start my family life with Melanie and Isabella when I was 20. I don’t know how long I will have with them after today, but in hindsight I would have had 18 years at least and probably more.

    All that said, I met Melanie when I did—in God’s time—and so my regrets are fleeting.

  • I suppose I need to clarify. I’ve said this before, but not everyone has read everything I’ve written or remembers it all.

    The first problem is the infantilization of adult and the creation of extended adolescence. In fact, adolescence is itself a recent invention. Not long ago, you were a child, then you were an adult, usually around the age of 14 or 15.

    But now look at the trend: the biggest purchasers of game consoles like the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 are mid-20 to mid-30 males. (I will admit I’m not immune from society’s influence; I find myself longing for gadgets and toys.) Many college and post-college adults refuse to take responsibility for their own lives, e.g. “helicopter parents” going on interviews with the 22-year-old children.

    And with this extended period of immaturity fewer and fewer people are ready to enter into a lifelong commitment. But there are those are ready and willing and they should not be discouraged just because the majority of their peers are not.

    Likewise, they should seek each other out, rather than succumb to the impulses of the age.

  • “Therefore, why would a boy devote his life to leading gay Church services with bad music and silly lecturing about the mundane inanities of life?  Do tell!”

    Because they are called by God by name and they answer, “Yes” like Mary.

  • My husband and I did not marry young, but one of my adult sons did and both marriages seem to be enduring well. Unfortunately, very few young people remain chaste into their twenties so then we can have the situation where a young man or young woman has been waiting for marriage, but the person with whom s/he begins to get serious has had a lot of “experience”. On the one hand, maybe God is offering this person the gift of the Faith so that s/he can have a new beginning in the Lord, but if the person shows no interest in Catholicism it is worrying. We live near a university town so perhaps we see a lot more promiscuity than most, but talking to young people leads me to believe that many almost reach a stage of despair at the prospect of meeting a suitable marriage partner. And I have heard that sentiment expressed by both those who have remained chaste and by those who have not.

  • Married at age 23 to a wife 6 months senior, we were on the younger end of marriage in the places we were both from, Texas and Trinidad.  However, we graduated from FUS in 2000 and knew of couples that married in college (like junior year), right after graduation (some conceived on honeymoon, some not), others married a little later, some still looking for a wonderful woman. 

    I was dating a highschool sweetheart when I first went to Steubenville, it did not last, and at that point I was very grateful God brouth me to this Ohio college.  The ratio of the sexes was like 2 or 3 girls for 1 boy, and considering a university of 2000 people that would mean 500-750 or so males with many studying in pre-theologate or discerning, that left a man like myself a choice beyond comprehension in compared to my friends in other places.  I would tell the better looking guys to discern, leaving me with even more chances (I am kidding on this sentence).  But the choices were many, many were great women, knew that they wanted a Catholic marriage, dated great men who knew what how manly Catholics are supposed to do and act.  We had great upperclassmen to imitate.  The positive peer pressure was very good. 

    I married a former “Woman of the Year” at Steubenville, who acted as Mary in the Passion Play, and if you have been to the Steubenville Passion Play, you know it is an honor do so.  She is Trinidadian, we married in Trinidad.  Now, we have 2 kids and she works while I am in graduate school.  Not exactly ideal, but try getting a job with a Theo. BA and Phil. minor that supports a family.  Marriage has been great, many worthless fights in the early marriage like “You always leave the tooth paste cap off” etc.  We have passed that stage for the most part.  I think it is true to say that we did the right thing, sometimes we think differently, but that usually means we are being selfish or worldly. 

    We were poor at first, but are doing better and we loved the days of our serfdom.  A starting poor marriage is good if done correctly.  Without the toys, gadgets, money to go out, that leaves only a couple of options that a newly wed couple does, of that I cannot, will not, must not complain.  What can I say, we’re Catholic and love the fact God created us in a way to enjoy the uniting of our bodies.  Had we had the money, we may have missed that opportunity.

  • The other day I was thinking about the priesthood and from my experience I found that small Dioceses with large populations of young professionals in their late 20’s to the mid 30’s (e.g. Denver, Atlanta, Newark, Chicago) have some of the larger ordination classes.  Very rarely are young men out of high school going to the minor seminary as I did and very few of the ones that do get ordained.  Of all of the seminarians in my college seminary that were present during my freshman year (32), only 4 were ordained priests.

    I think this has to do with our cultue.  We are told not to make a life-long commitment at a young age.  There is a strong parallel between the state of marriage and the priesthood.

  • I agree with everything you say, except one quibble. You can’t call Chicago a small diocese. It’s the third largest in the US behind LA and New York. And Newark is #9.

    But your point remains.

    The Catholic population stats are here at Catholic-Hierarchy.org.

  • Dom wrote: Yes, you will find people who married early and divorced and people who married late and had a wonderful marriage. But let’s not miss the point: For those who believe they are ready at 20, we should encourage them, not discourage.

    Yes, this is exactly the point.

    I married Nora when I was 22 and she was 18. I had just earned my BS, and she had one year in college. Our first child was born while I was working on my JD and she on her BA, and I was working to support us.

    There were many trials, sacrifices and struggles in the journey. Thirty years later the journey continues, and our marriage has strengthened with each step. A big part of that is the fact that we both had a stong commitment to the Catholic position on marriage before we started, and that rock made a firm foundation on which to build—a foundation that survived the poverty and the uncertainty of the early years.

    Our son, our first child, married his wife when they were both 22 and both in college. Six years and two grandsons later, I have no doubt that their marriage is on as firm a rock as is ours. We knew that they were right for each other, and ready, before they were married. Now we are preparing to celebrate the birth of our Lord with a house full of our children and grandchildren, and I would not trade places with anyone.

  • When I think of the fellows I was dating when I was 19, 20, 21 years of age . . . it makes my hair stand on end.

    [She covers her face with her hands and shakes her head]

    Lord! Marriages to any of them would have been sheer disaster. . .  for both of us! And to think I was sure that I was “in love with” several of them.

    It wasn’t until many, many years later, that I finally met someone whom I knew was “really right” for me.

    We celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary next May, thanks be to the Merciful God.

    Thinking back, my husband was the first one my parents liked for me. And, he told me on our honeymoon, I was the first one his parents had liked for him. And we were both wise enough and mature enough, by that stage of our lives, to listen and take our parents’ opinions into account as we considered marriage.

    When I was 19 – what my parents thought? You’ve got to be kidding me! Hah! I knew best.

    I wonder how many young people in their teens and early twenties would be willing to take seriously into account their parents’ observations and reactions to a prospective spouse as they discern whether a particular young man or young woman is “the one”?

  • I’ve been touting the early marriage for the last couple of years.  It seems ridiculous that God would design us with our bodies getting ready—and virtually driving males—by 14 with the expectation of a 6+ year purity struggle that no one can argue isn’t lost 10 times over in the vast majority of cases.

    None of us has the slightest doubt, after spending 10 min observing the teen mall-rats that 99% of 15/16 year-olds are not ready to be spouses and parents.  But it seems the only solution the godly parent entertains is shoring up their childrens spiritual fortitude for a decade or more of sexual asceticism one has to thing St. Paul counsels against in Corinthians.

    I’m thinking we need to figure out how to make our children ready to be spouses and parents at an age that coincides with how God created their bodies.  As someone pointed out previously, this was the case in the vast majority of human history.  What are the key elements to their experience that make them emotionally and spiritally ready?  That is what I’m ardently seeking.

  • Ja—what we need to be doing, as parents, is raising our children to struggle to live the virtues to a heroic degree.  That is the definition of a saint, is it not?  And if we, and our children, are struggling to be saints, to be truly holy and virtuous, then they will be ready for whatever God calls them to, and will be able to give themselves wholeheartedly.

    I know this sounds ludicrously pie-in-the-sky.  And I know how hard this is, I’m living it myself right now, but that is what I’m shooting for.  DH & I are educating and raising our children for genuine freedom—so that when they learn what God wants of them, they will have the capacity to say yes to it.

  • Dom, interesting topic. My experience was similar to yours as far as getting married later.

    Not that I was deprived as a child, but once out of college I did have the opportunity to travel and visit places I never experienced before.

    Though I do not mean to imply that is a reason to hold off marriage or children; it was just my experience. I would have probably gotten married much earlier if I had met that someone in my 20s.

    And for kids…I was 36 when the first came and now 44 with three, the youngest just turning five. I have wondered if I had children in my 20s would that mean I would have more energy to keep up with them? Now, I’m ready for bed well before they are.

    “We don’t expect our young people to act mature until they are out of college.  The transition to a job is the transition to adulthood.  I would vote no on the early marriage.”

    This is interesting. I have a mix “race” marriage with my wife being from Taiwan. She found it surprising that I worked part-time during my college years and that I expect our children to do the same so to help cover some school related costs.

    Her family experience, and I suspect it applies to the broader Asian cultural expectation, is that the college age children should focus 100% on studies. Parents will work hard to provide the education, and in their old-age, their well-educated children will provide for them.

    Merry Christmas!

  • I’m thinking we need to figure out how to make our children ready to be spouses and parents at an age that coincides with how God created their bodies.  As someone pointed out previously, this was the case in the vast majority of human history.  What are the key elements to their experience that make them emotionally and spiritually ready?

    Give them responsibilities. If you refrain from giving them responsibilities because they are too immature, they will never gain that maturity. The problem is children have privileges without the corresponding duties. Maturity means understanding that you need to work for what you get, that there is no free ride.

  • I’ve got three grandaughters growing up on a small farm with no television in the house. The oldest are in their late teens, and show every sign of a serene maturity. The youngest is an early teen and still unformed. If either of the older ones announced on Monday they were getting married (or entering a convent), I would be pleased with, and confident of, their decision.

    So it all depends on the people and their upbringing. Television in particular damages psyches, turns humans into consumers and facilitates illness and depression (ditto public education). With damaged goods like that, it would take time for anyone to regain his/her equilibrium. This accounts for much of the anecdotes on this thread about “needing time.” Some recover, many don’t.

    There is nothing inherently wrong with early marriages; nevertheless, generalizations are impossible.

  • My wife was 18 and I was 21 when we married. This year we celebrate our 42nd Anniversary. However, I think today’s young people are extremely immature—mostly caused by the childish, sinful attitude toward family and sex propagandized relentlessly in the mass media. Thus, I am not surprised at the modern statistics saying today’s marriages are more likely to be a success if the partners marry in their late 20’s instead of younger.

  • I married at 21 (almost 22), my husband was 23. Two days after graduation from college (West Point…you couldn’t be married while you were a student, or we might have married sooner, I don’t know). The day after our wedding, he had to go back to Germany and I didn’t see him for 5 months.

    We did not go into marriage with a truly Catholic understanding of what marriage is supposed to be, unfortunately. That did not make our earlier married life as good as it could have been, but God is so very good. He let us see the error of our ways and gave us the grace to turn things around. I always feel that He blessed us so much more than we deserved in our “young and dumb” days…He gave us blessings to grow into!

    We will celebrate 19 years of marriage in May, more in love every day, with four wonderful children that we are doing our best to raise with a proper understanding of God’s plan for marriage, should that be the vocation He calls them to.

  • I married after my junior year in College to a man
    just home from serving in W.W.2 for three years. I was 21 and he was 26.I had known him as a best friend of my brother practically all my life. We dated for less than two years.We have had a fabulous married life with five children.We will soon celebrate our 59th wedding anniversary.

  • The reason it seems as if there are no serious twenty year old Catholic women is that many seriously Christian women who are twenty can find Bible studies, single groups with wholesome recreation, and encouragement in living a single Christian life in the evangelical churches. There is hardly anything for Catholic singles except single groups for recreation.  But there are a lot of serious Christian women who are twenty.  I’ve taught college too and been a director of religious education and know a lot of single Catholic women who have ‘jumped ship.’
      Catholic bishops are too busy dabbling in political issues to notice these kinds of pastoral problems.

  • But why are “singles groups” necessary?  That’s a modern thing, and mostly a modern protestant thing.  It generally requires, ipso facto, an experience outside of families.  Why do we think an effective courtship is best conducted in a constructed environment like a “singles group”? 

    That whole experience that goes on between 12 and 26 is an unreal, constructed reality.  It didn’t exist 100 years ago.  A century ago, the “cool” 15-year-old, was the young man who had been accepted by the men of the village as a man.  The most eligible 15-year-old maid was the young woman who had been accepted by the women.  Somewhere along the way they became an authority in themselves and a preeminent one at that. 

    They want nothing to do with the adults’ reality.
    We have to figure out how to undo that phenomenon.  And while I’m sure there are many people who can respond with how wonderful their experience was in a given “singles group”, I can’t help but think that “singles groups” only reinforce the unreality to some degree. 

    It may be because everyone, in that time of their life, seems to have removed themselves from their families.

  • Catholic bishops are too busy dabbling in political issues to notice these kinds of pastoral problems.

    Why wait for the bishops? That kind of thing should be a lay initiative anyway.

    Dom started a Bible study group for young adults at our parish. That’s actually how we started dating. My roommate brought me to the Bible study and I kept staying late to talk with Dom. Before I knew it we were dating. And then engaged. And now married. smile

    If there isn’t something going at your parish, start something. Ask your pastor for permission to advertise in the bulletin.

  • And now parents!

    Yeah, that’s the best part. smile

    I was going to say that, but it almost sounded too much like bragging. wink

  • You know, I have real mixed feelings about this. I’m going to turn 45 this coming year & I’m still single. On the one hand, I feel happy that I didn’t get into the “sexual revolution” as it swirled around me in high school & college or get into a loveless situation as I saw so many times in the divorce matters that I’ve seen in my 16+ years as an attorney. Frankly, the Catholic position on marriage & sexualty makes the most sense to me, especially witnesssing the alternatives the past 30 years or so. On the other hand, I do feel a bit lonely in the sense that I would like to have someone to share my life w/me. I did attempt to connect & communicate w/someone that I thought I could relate to after seeing her blog several years ago, which ended in complete & utter failure & I’m still recovering from it. I’m not jealous or envious of anybody who has a happy marriage, because jealousy & envy is a poision & I accept the fact that some of the problem is w/me   , but it’s so hard to find someone these days. Sorry about goin on about this, but it’s something I just want to get out of my system.

                  Ta & G’d Bless
                  diskojoe

  • Dom, I know I’m late to this thread but I had to throw in my two cents worth. Thank you for bringing this up & standing your ground. The ‘professor’ who posted initially gives me cold chills because its obvious the view of life he’s passing on to his students isn’t one of hope.
      For our part, my husband was 21 & I was 20 when we married…that was 35 yrs ago. We’d both do it again (hi & lows, tears & laughter, fights & making ups) all over again, and do, regularly! The greatest joy of our lives right now is our grandchildren who spend the night every weekend & who keep us young.
      This post goes against our culture (I use the term loosely!) and that, in & of itself, is almost enough to recommend any theory to me anymore. If the point is “its all about Me” then, absolutely, marrying young is not for you. If the point is learning Renunciation as a way of life so I & all my family can live with God forever then this is the life for you.
    Francis de Sales also has something to say about this topic:

    The state of marriage is one that requires more virtue and constancy than any other: it is a perpetual exercise of mortification.

    – St. Francis de Sales

  • I just came across your site through a completely unrelated google search.  I’ve gone “yeah, that’s right” to some of your posts, half-agreed with others, and completely disagreed with others (I’ll admit this is the largest category).  I think it’s very important for people to read what the ‘opposites’ of an issue have to say (so if you’re talking about abortion, people who fight for women’s right to abort should still try to understand, at the very least, where pro-lifers are coming from).  This is one that has me going “Yep, sure, totally agree”.  Though I’m pretty sure the fact my girlfriend and I are young has very little to do with society saying we should never get married.

  • I’m 23 and I can tell you from experience, most people my age have no interest in commitment of any kind. Some are reluctant about marriage because of student loans and to find a good job that you need to support a family in a place like New York or Boston, takes a lot of time to build.  Others are narcissists, some are reluctant because they lack confidence because of a divroce in their family.  As people approach 30, many will be open to living together, but marriage only seems to come about when a woman wants kids. 

    Do we need to build holy marriages?  Absolutely. but some of you older folks shouldn’t beat us over the head with this stuff when some of us can barely support ourselves, let alone a family.  You need to be more visible and provide holy and happy examples of marriages in the Church, provide support by taking time to counsel engaged couples and those discerning marriage.  Most of all, please pray for us because it really is hard to find good men and women out there that are serious about their faith; church is a social event for many young people seeking an alternative to hooking-up.

  • I am a freelance writing and currently I am composing an article concerning marrying young. I am of the belief that the world has it totally backward and that God never intended for us to be single, now he gifts some with the abilities to remain single but that is rare as the apostle Paul speaks of in the New Testament. But more naturally we are to marry and young. In Genesis scripture says that God did not think it was good for the man to be alone therefore he created a helpmeet for him. And with marrying young, i think it is ideal to marry younger because then we are not as susceptible to temptation as many of us have fallen short and end up in sexual sin because the church tells us to wait in abstinence and the world is giving us the greenlight. Mixed messages. The ideal marriage is Mary who was around 14 and Joseph who was about 25. If this match is good enough to rear our Lord and Savior surely it can work for us. I also believe that it should be okay for younger women to marry older younger men who are a bit more mature and have been equipped to be the headship of the family and to treat the wife as Christ treated the church not Lord over her. But again society has criminalized this. Young people really don’t know what to do and are in full blown rebellion because of it. It may look to the world that they are more independent but independence without Godly guidance is rebellion. I just feel that we are way off in what we are teaching our young people and in a sense we are setting them up for failure in the system that we are operating in now on issues of love, sex and marriage.

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