I got married when I was 17. At the time, I thought I knew it all and honestly believed I was ready for the commitment of being someone’s lifetime partner. The reality of the commitment I was promising to make was far different than what I expected. We moved to another state soon after we were married, a thousand miles away from everything we knew and the change in culture was definitely shocking. Then life hit me with a baseball bat. Life told me I wasn’t ready, that I was missing out on so many opportunities and that I was shorting myself all the world has to offer by being tied down so young.
Like so many people, music strikes a chord in my soul and really makes me think about where I am. I remember hearing a song on the radio that really hit home, (There’s Gotta Be) More To Life by Stacie Orrico. When I listened to that song I knew that the marriage thing wasn’t for me, at least not right then. We divorced 3 years after we said our vows.
I wouldn’t say I regret getting married. If I hadn’t picked that road, I wouldn’t be where I am now. I wouldn’t have had the life experiences and growth that came with that choice. I can’t help it to think that our culture in Utah influenced the rush to get married, too. We were done with high school, we were growing up and the idea of family just seemed like it was the right thing to do, the next step in our journey of adulthood.
Utah does not follow the national trend of waiting to get married until your late twenties or early thirties either. In 1990, the median age of marriage for men and women was 21.0 years at first marriage, health.utah.gov. And in 1995, 22 percent of marriages involved a bride under 20 years of age. In 2008, this number has only risen a few years. According to pewsocialtrends.org, the median age of marriage for women in the state of Utah was 24 and men were 26.
In 2009, there were 1,743 marriages in the state of Utah, cdc.gov/nchs. In 2009, there were 1,849 divorces in the state of Utah. To say a number of these marriages were young marriages is fair. The problem with young marriages is that most of them end in divorce.
Looking at the statistics shows that people, including myself, realized after they take the leap of commitment that it wasn’t what it was portrayed to be at all. I’m not anti-marriage. I’m pro-figuring out who you are and what you want in this life before settling down.
There shouldn’t be a rush to take on the hardest and most stressful part of life, which can be the most rewarding part of life. Take the time to find out what you want in a partner before jumping on board with the first person.
I can promise that knowing what direction you’re going, knowing you’re values and being a little more prepared for marriage, you will find it to be the most exciting thing in life. It’s a huge commitment that takes a lot of dedication and sacrifice that pays out as much as you put in, plus more. Learn the game before you risk everything. Then put it all on black and see the winnings roll in.