If you’re considering whether to pursue a serious relationship in your early 20s, or perhaps lamenting the fact you’re 30-something and single, here’s the deal: there are plenty of pros and cons either way. As someone who tied the knot ridiculously young, here’s my perspective on it:
Pro: you’ll probably be more easy-going about all the changes that occur between before and after the ‘I Do’. You haven’t had too long to concoct fantasies and ideals about what marriage should look like, and will be hopefully less baffled by the idiosyncrasies of your new housemate. You’re young enough to not be too set in your ways and will often adapt more easily to sharing your stuff – and saliva – with someone else.
Con: everyone at work or uni will think you’re nuts for getting married so young. Surely you can’t possibly know who you are or what you want at the young age of 21?! Don’t expect everyone to congratulate you once you flash the engagement ring or post info about the romantic proposal – or lack thereof, in my case. In fact, expect some responses to be downright hostile.
Pro: if you have a high sex drive and you’re waiting until after your vows to consummate your love, getting married young means you forgo the torture of denying yourself sex for potentially several more years. There’s no urgent hurry to procreate, so you may enjoy some time, even years, sans children, allowing you and your spouse to settle into married life before diving into the realm of nappies and tantrums. However, just a heads-up, your sex life won’t necessarily be brilliant from the start.
Con: that thing about delaying kids for a few years? Doesn’t always work out that way. You may have planned to wait five years before welcoming offspring, but our best-laid plans or contraception may not always work. I’ll never forget one friend whose contraception failed to work on honeymoon, when she came down with a tummy bug. Nine months later at the young ages of 22 and 23, she and her husband stepped into the role of parenting. If you get married young, you must also consider the possibility of pregnancy at a young age too.
Pro: if you get married young, it’s likely that your folks will foot the bill for the wedding expenses, saving you a load of cash for the future or those first few rent/mortgage payments.
Con: you may find the wedding plans and guest list arrangements are not in your hands, as parents and in-laws organise something leaning towards their own preferences. Those delaying marriage until their 30s may well finance the wedding themselves, but at least they’ll have the final say on what type of celebration and guests they’re going to have.
Pro: there’s always a friendly face to greet at the end of the day, chill out with over coffee or pizza and beer, and hopefully someone who shows interest in your passions and pursuits. That feeling of being alone can seem to have dissipated.
Con: where you may have enjoyed doing your own thing and living as you pleased, a marriage relationship turns that notion on its head, as you continually make choices with regard to your partner’s wants or needs. No more munching on cereal when you can’t be bothered to cook dinner. Also, that feeling of never being alone? Sorry to break it to you, but married people can also experience that sense of loneliness at times. I found early on that I really missed the great friends I’d made during my travels in Germany the year before getting married. My new husband didn’t magically whisk away the desire for other close friendships.
Pro: if you go on to have a family, you’ll likely be young parents with bags of energy for the school run and fun and games with your kids. You could have a couple of teenagers by the time you hit 40 or so and still be young enough to enjoy the same things they do.
Con: having a young family can come as a challenge as you have to sacrifice time spent doing your hair or fooling around on X-box to pick up spilled Cheerios or wipe up sticky hand prints off the walls. You may resent the loss of freedom and the burden of parental responsibility. Those who get married later and have children in their 30s tend to have more patience and often cherish their young ones more, especially if they waited a year or more for a much wanted child.
If you got married young as well, do you have anything else to add? And for those aren’t hitched – what do you think?