Young and In Love: The stigma of getting married early

Why we should stop discrediting early marriages

After I graduated high school, the wedding invitations flooded in. Envelope after envelope, I began to get frustrated. I wondered why people would choose to settle down when there is so much more to experience. It wasn’t until one of my close friends got engaged that I realized how problematic my attitude was.

Since our parents were our age, beliefs about marriage and family have transformed immensely. Our generation’s culture is all about exploring, experiencing and adventuring. We seek uncertainty and want our futures to be exciting. 

However, because of these popular life expectations, early marriage has become increasingly snubbed, disdained and stigmatized. It’s a common belief that early marriage leads to regret, disappointment and ultimately, divorce.

Many films portray the dissatisfied housewife or the disgruntled stay-at-home husband who got married ”too young." These stereotypes imply that early marriages become bitter and unhappy and will keep you from attaining your goals. Even the term “settling down” reinforces the idea that adventure is impossible in marriage.

This negative stigma is untrue and damaging to those in these marriages. It is impossible to determine the "healthiest" age to get married. There is no “one size fits all” answer to the question of "when is the right time?" The answer is dependent on the maturity of relationship and each partner’s life goals.

Stigmatizing and trivializing early marriages is an unfair and narrow-minded way of thinking. You're essentially saying that if someone's life doesn't look like yours, it's inherently wrong and doomed to fail. 

Chelsea Meyers, a 24-year-old Yavapai College graduate, was married at 20 years old (her husband was 19). 

“It was the right decision for my husband and myself," Meyers said. "Obviously it’s not something I would recommend to just any young couple who's in love. Honestly, there was just no point in holding off on the inevitable. We were ready to do life together.”

Despite popular belief, marriage isn’t about sacrificing your goals to be with your partner; it’s about attaining your goals alongside your partner.

However, those who choose this path are often ridiculed. 

“When I was in college, I was super embarrassed to tell people I was married,” Meyers explains. “I felt that more often than not, I’d gets negative responses.”

Despite what their peers told them, Meyers and her husband graduated, landed their dream jobs and continue to grow in their loving relationship.

Meyers is likely not alone. Many young couples feel ashamed to choose this path because of the negative connotations attached to it. Regardless of what others may say, no one has the right to make judgments about a specific marriage except those within the relationship.

Getting married young doesn’t mean you have to give up the excitement in your 20s. Saying "I do" doesn't automatically transform your relationship into The Cleavers'. Getting married means you’re going to experience that excitement with your partner. You'll get to live wildly with with there person you love. 

Consider the Way family or the Fillerups who are constantly traveling and gaining new experiences. These couples got married and began a family very young, yet they still lead more adventurous lives than many of us.

Marriage is about partnership, not abandoning your dreams or wasting your potential just to be with your partner. The judgment and stigmatization of early marriage is an extremely flawed, as it only considers one point of view. The truth is: it's possible to get married young and lead the life you want. So instead of dismissing early marriages as mistakes, let’s support our friends' happiness and understand that it’s okay for our lives to look different.


Reach the columnist at sljorda4@asu.edu or follow @skyjordan15 on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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