Arts & CultureSex & Relationships

Young marriage — it's not for everyone, but sometimes it does work

The first time Brandon asked for Tia’s number, it was at the gas station where she worked. He had been to the station a few times before that with the same intention, but each time left with only a single piece of Jolly Rancher candy instead. When he finally did ask her for her number, she denied him, only to give in a week later, and they went out to dinner.

Soon after, they started spending winter nights in her car, talking while it warmed up. Little did they know that only a year after dating, they would be living together, and only two years after that, would call each other husband and wife. At 20 and 24 years old, Brandon and Tia are newlyweds.

I knew Brandon in high school, and was more than a little surprised when I heard he had married. He hadn’t been the only one — I started noticing the engagements and marriages of my peers shortly after I started college. At only 19, 20 and 21 years old, some had already decided who they wanted to spend the rest of their lives with — an unbelievable feat to me, a 20-year-old who can barely make the decision of what dress to buy, let alone something so life-changing and permanent.

And my hesitation is easily justified. Statistically speaking, marrying young isn’t advisable. We already know that 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. But, according to The Chicago Tribune, divorce rates are even worse for those who marry young: about 60 percent of marriages among couples between the ages of 20 and 25 end in [email protected]@checked [email protected]@

Despite these statistics, Brandon doesn’t seem too worried. To him, marriage signifies a state of security. The only worries he has, he tells me, is whether he and Tia will both find jobs in the same area and whether they will become parents before they’re ready.

But why marry now? Why the rush?

I asked a wise therapist I know, Diane Homes, whether she believed marriage had an age: “What works for us at 20 can be so different at 28,” she told me. “The laid-back poet with the amazing eyes is not the guy who will make sure we have a working car to drop our toddler off at daycare. The terrific girl who’s an amazing lover and laughs at our jokes may not be the best risk when our career is flagging and we need to move for a job. See?”@@,[email protected]@

The thing is, I did see. And I saw it so much that every time I would hear that another friend, another acquaintance, tied the knot right out of high school — in the middle of their college career — my stomach would tighten. Right at the cusp of adulthood, at the cusp of truly discovering who we are, some were making decisions that would determine the course of the rest of their lives.

And then, Brandon told me something that made me forget, even for a moment, their youth:

“After 3 years of being with her, I still loved seeing her face as I walked through the door. That is how I knew I was ready.”

And with that, I feel hopeful for Brandon, for Tia, for all young marriages. And even though I couldn’t see myself marrying any time soon, I hope they do defy the odds. I hope, one day, they will be able to tell their grandchildren the story of how they met in high school, how he couldn’t muster up the courage to ask her out and left her station with Jolly Ranchers instead, and how she first turned him down, only to later make the decision that would change her life forever. I hope they live a long, healthy life into old age — together.

Do you appreciate independent student journalism? Emerald Media Group is a non-profit organization. Please consider a donation to support our mission.



Tell us what you think:

Katherine Marrone

Katherine Marrone

Katherine Marrone is the sex and relationships writer for the Emerald. A feminist and activist, she likes writing about gender issues and social justice.