Can you name a tradition as old as human sacrifice and equally as unwise? If you said young marriage, you are correct and may also be a mind reader.
In ancient times, average life expectancy was somewhere in the 20’s or 30’s – as death at the paws of a lion in the coliseum tends to dramatically cut years – marriage at the age of 16 made perfect sense.
But flash forward to present-day and people are still rushing to tie the knot. When the average person can expect to hang around on this rock in excess of 70 years – doing much more now than harvesting crops, selling them at the local square and simply trying to live past 25, some people still can’t help but race into marriage as if their lives depended on it.
Recently a friend of mine got engaged – for the second time. She is 24, still attending school, and she still no idea what she’d like to do with her life. Yet she is promising to spend her entire life with just this one person.
When examining reasons why young people are rushing into marriage, psychologists cite a multitude of reasons. Among them is the fear of growing old alone and all that is uncertain in the future. The theory that choosing someone now will make at least one part of life certain and stable often backfires when they grow and change.
Emotional scars aren’t the only issues left in the wake of divorce; financial burdens often plague young divorcés.
Call me a cynic, but I can’t see this arrangement working out in anyone’s best interest. The world is so different now; we are free to do so many things. When there is so much to do, so much to see and so much to explore about yourself as an individual, especially as a woman, signing a contract to make yourself essentially part of a whole for upwards of your remaining 50 or so years just seems ludicrous for someone so young. The proof is in the rapidly rising divorce rate, which now hovers at almost exactly 50 percent.
An article on young marriages in The New York Times stated that despite the image of divorce as a mid-life occurrence, most American marriages end before the age of 30 than at any other time in a person’s life. The divorce rate for young couples is more than double the already-dismal national average, according to the same article.
Truthfully, the only logical reason to marry anymore is for one of three reasons: money, attention or gaining citizenship. Take your pick.
Sure, you could be “in love” but that’s an overused, overstated and overrated phrase. And what’s the harm in waiting until, say… 30? Love is a flighty thing. Let yourself really grow, understand yourself and make sure you actually want to tempt this bull with a red cape; most likely, you won’t.
Considering this premature marriage ceremony, I can’t help but imagine that this must be how the ancient Romans felt when attending fights to the death in the coliseum. Seems people are still captivated by brutal games.