In Ancient Rome, people didn't marry because they were in love. Folks married to carry on the family bloodline and for economical or political reasons. Women were under the jurisdiction of their fathers, so young girls were often married off when they were between the ages of twelve and fourteen. Some young men married at the age of fourteen also.
The History of Teen Marriage
During the Middle Ages, the practice of youthful marriages continued and women married as early as fourteen.
Men generally waited until they were more established in life which was usually when they were in their twenties or early thirties. In 1371, due to the plague, the average age at marriage for men was 24, and for women, it was 16. By 1427, the average male of all classes did not wed til he was in his mid-30s, usually choosing a bride about half his age. Rich girls seemed to marry at a younger age than poor girls.
It is obvious from a historical perspective that marriages of teenagers (at least teenage girls) were quite common. However, that trend has changed in most countries of the world. Today, young love is neither encouraged or readily accepted by society.
Facts and Sobering Statistics About Teen Marriage
Why are so many people against teen marriage? Because it is believed that more than 1/2 who marry in their teens will divorce within 15 years. That is a pretty sobering statistic.
Additionally, according to the Center for Law and Social Policy, "Compared to girls who marry later, teenage brides have less schooling, less independence, and less experience of life and work." Teen brides are also at more risk for being abused and living at poverty levels.
There is another side to the story of teen marriage, though. That is the number of success stories that married teens share. For the record, Sheri was 19 when we married. Not all teen marriages end up as an another divorce statistic.
Things for Teens to Consider Before Tying the Knot
Ask yourselves why you want to get married. If your reasons include wanting to get away from your parents, pregnancy, or fear of losing one another, don't get married. All of these reasons are red flags in your relationship and are not valid reasons for getting married. Marriage should be a "want to" and not a "have to".
Being on your own does free you from parental control, but this change in lifestyle brings along a whole new set of responsibilities in your lives.
You will have to deal with financial issues, where to live, jobs, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, decision making, in-laws, continuing your education, and if pregnant, child care along with learning how to communicate with your spouse.
If you've checked out the marriage license laws in your locale, have the permission of your parents to marry, and have decided that you don't want to wait any longer before getting married, there's still a couple things you should do before tying the knot.
- Attend a premarital education class or an Engaged Encounter weekend.
- Work out together a realistic budget.
- Volunteer together to work with young kids at a homeless shelter for a few months. Or volunteer your time at a soup kitchen facility.