I'm not actually sure how things go for large secular schools, but both of the small Christian colleges I went to had it like the plague.

The "I must marry before graduating, or I shall surely die" syndrome is a symptom of what I speak of. And indeed, if you wrestled them to the ground so that you could pry up their feet, there, stamped in the plastic mold of their G.I. footsies was the expiration date they would surely reach if...

Well, it certainly seemed that way. Never mind the hoard of people who got married right out of High School.

And how many of them are divorced 1 - 5 years later?

"We just stopped loving each other". "We found other interests". "He wasn't into lesbian watersports with younger ostriches".

The fact is that between the ages of 18 and 25, as puberty finally wears off and we all find out what a terrible tragedy the working world truly is, most people change. Drastically.

Yet it's in this age that the lemming rush for marriage, for financial and emotional security, truly takes place in.

And I watch these happy, beaming, velcro couples, who are making a supposed life long commitment based on emotion and the need for a family to replace the one they just moved out on, and I shudder.

This is not to say that I am the proponent of the Borg of Marriage, and that logic should rule all things...just that a commitment between two mature individual based not on desire, but on an actual congruity and fit between two very individual personalities would seem to be a good idea.

Finding somebody who complements you, who you can continue to work with and live with even when, emotionally, you aren't connected, would seem to be a must...but it's rare these days that this is actually sought.

It's that whole "I'd marry a pretty stranger, but I'd never date a friend" syndrome that seems to be ruling the world, quite honestly.

Most psychologists agree that people these days aren't truly "adults" (in terms of emotions, adjustment to the world, etc.) until they're 25 - 27, based not only on a short-term fulfillment aimed, youth oriented culture, but also on older generations who no longer have any interest in mentoring or leading the younger generations forward... because it reminds them of how old they're getting.

I know that my parents met when they were about 25, and married when they were 27. And then my father immediately went off and got stationed in the Philipines for a year and a half (he was in Air Force logistics). But they've been together going on 30 years now. Not with a lot of complimentary interests, so far as I can tell (though they work on it)...but because they fit each other. They compliment each other. They work well together, even during the tough times. Maybe especially then, somehow.

Mind you, I also know a fair number of couples who got married straight out of college...and they're solid, loving, complementary couples who will likely be together until the Hitchhiker's Guide Movie reaches the big screen and Judgement Day arrives...but they're somehow the minority in what I see around me.

There are always exceptions. There always couples who made it against all odds. But that seems, somehow, to be a growing difference in society, rather than the norm.

At my prior place of employment, this syndrome seemed to be particularily insidious. The most disgusting thing about it was that I could clearly detect a competitive edge to it. People bragged about their wives and kids, despite the fact that they were only 23-25 years old and making a mere $11-12 an hour. Personally, I would be embarassed to admit that I was supporting an entire family on such a piddly income. I support my live-in girlfriend on a slightly higher wage now, but I couldn't see myself buying a house and feeding a child until I can do so in a financially comfortable manner. Why anyone younger than 25 would be PROUD of having a kid is beyond me. I guess these geniuses haven't heard that older parents tend to be better parents, and bonus -- THEY LIVE LONGER. It's sensible for purely biological reasons, let alone psychological ones, and I don't mean you should be 50 or 60 years old...but 30-50 is far more reasonable than 20-30. When you've got defenseless living genes to support, your body will maintain itself better.

One particular employee was really awful. He had pictures of his kid plastered all over the place, but none of his wife. I hate to be mean, but he was quite troll-like in appearance and I often wondered if he was embarassed of showing his wife's face around. He had recently been hit by a car and was given $25,000 in "pain and suffering" money, so he blew the entire wad on a Dodge Dakota 4x4 in order to "fit in" with the four wheeler enthusiasts he constantly annoyed on smoke breaks. He bragged openly about buying the truck without mentioning it to his wife whatsoever. His co-workers ridiculed him behind his back, and he worshipped them in pure ignorance. When they revealed their interest in remote control aircraft, he had one the next day.

It seems like people are proud of the fact that they got married early, which is insane to me. I've been with the same person for nearly three years, and am pretty damned sure we're going to get married -- but I'm not going to put my ass on the line and seal the deal with a kid until I can proudly say that I am fully capable of supporting said kid. What's the god damned rush, anyway? I wouldn't be surprised to learn that some of it has to do with organized religion. Marriage gives a couple the right to live together without being ashamed, not that I am. So what do people do? They marry the first "decent" person they meet, so that everyone around them will approve of them shacking up. My parents and my girlfriends' parents have no problem about us living together, but her godparents must be kept in the dark due to their "traditional" upbringing. I have accidentally made it clear to them that we do live together on multiple occasions, when I forget that I'm supposed to lie to them outright.

Although the reception to this writeup has been surprisingly positive, I can see that I've struck a nerve with some people and must attempt to apologize for saying "How can someone be proud of having a kid under 25..." But I'm not going to remove the sentence, because I've seen a ton of wacky opinions (everyone's opinion is fucked up to somebody) on here and wouldn't expect anyone to censor themselves either. I was trying to ridicule those who consider children trophies of accomplishment to brag about at the office, not anyone who has a kid at a young age in general. I think most people who are "proud" have no other choice but to feign pride, so they make it seem like they are better for being in such a situation. The main context of my writeup was my former workplace, where many, many twentysomethings making $12 an hour bragged about their kids despite the fact that they could barely support them. Despite all of their pride, they often admitted that they were completely broke and wished they were single sometimes just to be able to buy things for themselves. My point? Get a fuckin' career first, for Chrissakes.

I just think it's silly to have kids at a young age, proud or not. It's not maturity that bothers me...yes, some people are more mature at 16 than others are at 40. I just happen to be of the opinion that one should have a stable foundation to rest on before spawning a bunch of potential societal leeches. It's very possible to get there by 25, but that doesn't happen with most people most of the time. If you've got kids and you're under 25, and you're proud, great. Just don't give me any bullshit about how much harder your life is and how much more important every challenge you conquer and decision you make is.

You put yourself in the position, and I think it's a bad position to be in while developing one's future. You can as proud as you want, but I like living comfortably, and my kids and I will be far better off if I wait until I can afford to support them without spending every waking moment of every day away from my family. I'm only 21 and can't see myself ever wanting to have kids, but that will probably change. But why anyone would want to burden themselves with little parasites at such an early age is beyond me -- especially when they use it as some justification for how much harder they work at life. Why subject yourself to such intense stress at such an early age? Fuck that noise.

So much for this being a disclaimer, apology, or whatever. It's longer and more potentially offensive than the first portion! Ahh, well. Opinions abound. By the way -- I am a lazy bastard with little ambition... That may have some bearing on why I think it's foolish to subject one's self to stress while building a career. I will admit that perhaps many people work more passionately when they have an immediate need to fulfill. Understandable. I'm just a laid-back, path of least resistance kinda guy, and it angers me when people brag about how difficult they've made life for themselves.

I think I've just realized where most of my bias on this subject comes from. At my apartment complex, many, many, many annoying-as-fucking-all-hell kids swarm like flies all over the place, riding their bikes on the "balcony" (it's contiguous all the way through), skateboarding, riding scooters, screaming bloody murder in the swimming pool, etc. Now I don't hate kids in general, but I do kinda hate uncontrolled, loud, obnoxious kids (but not as much as I hate their idiotic parents). The apartment managers constantly tape fliers to everybody's door warning them to control their kids, as they tend to dart around in the parking lot tempting death on a regular basis. Many near-accidents have occurred.

The swimming pool is the worst. It's kinda right out below where I live, and it seems anybody under 13 has to scream at the top of their lungs 100% of the time they're in that pool. So in return I must blast music to cancel out the effects. Occasionally I scream "shut the hell up" when it gets real bad...and I'm a really shy, unconfrontational person most of the time. On one occasion two kids of at least eight years of age knocked on my door. My girlfriend answered; they asked her if she had any film to give them for free to put into their camera. She said no; they saw our cat, and immediately ran into our apartment, chasing our cat and trying to pick him up. They had to be politely escorted out. I can only imagine how stupid their parents are. These kids are begging to be abducted, molested, and murdered, running into stranger's homes like that. Remember when strangers were every child's mortal enemy?

So if I were to change the title of this node, it would be "People who raise kids in an apartment should be dragged out and shot, after first being tortured thoroughly." Well, maybe that's a little harsh. But I doubt most people under 25 own a house, and I think owning a house is the true hallmark of financial maturity. I'm sure there are far superior apartment complexes out there with far more well-behaved kids, but I really believe that anyone who can't afford a house doesn't DESERVE to have kids. Let the downvotes fall where they may.

Being on of the foolish ones that got married young (21) and surviving a four year marriage that I escaped from .

I got married for a few simple reasons.

Pretty stupid reasons. That I know now

Marriage is SO easy your parents are happy that you're getting married (most of the time) and your SO is so happy. It's the right thing to do. It shows you love them. Everything is great.

Why do people do it? Maybe they are too scared of being alone, they need to be wanted or there is a sense of duty. I'm not sure.

People should be required to go through a divorce before they are married. If I knew how tough it would be to get divorced I would have never gotten married the first time.

I've since re-married, happier by the day and just peachy. Am I trying to prove someone else wrong or do the right thing. I just have my soulmate and I'm happy. She lets me grow and love me and I know a lot more than I did then and I'm pretty sure its the right thing for me.

Well, no, that's not actually true.

Anyone who gets married before they become an adult scares me a little.

After all, it doesn't really have anything to do with physical age, does it? It's a matter of how mature, how responsible, and how well-prepared to support a family they are. And that can happen at eighteen, or twenty-one, or twenty-five or forty or perhaps never. It all depends on the individual, and how willing they are to take on the responsibility of a family.

Age is a trade-off. Younger husbands, wives, and parents may be less mature, less experienced, less wealthy, or less responsible. But they're also likely to be more energetic, more ambitious, more hopeful, and more able to relate to their children. Older couples may know more about how to make a relationship last, but younger ones will have less baggage from previous relationships. Older spouses may have more financial resources, but younger ones have more flexibility to grow their careers. And so it goes.

Commitment has nothing to do with age. You don't need to play the dating game for ten full years to know what you do and don't want out of a lifemate, or even whether you're the type of person to be one. You don't need to date or live with someone for three years to know if it's meant to be. A middle-aged adult can be just as faithless and uncommiting as a teenager with raging hormones. It all depends on the individual.

I would suspect that the problem people have with young married adults, then, is a subjective one. "These two are as young as me or younger! And I'm still broke and hedonistic! How can they be any different than me? How can they take on the kind of responsibility that should be reserved for people who look like my parents?" Guess what? Maybe they can. And maybe, by the time you're as old as your parents are now, you'll be just as broke and hedonistic as you are today.

Don't judge others' ability to found a family based on their age. Besides, it's fairly common psychology that the best way to improve someone's sense of responsibility is to give them some.

Dear Daughter,

If there is one thing I would like to give you, it is this. I want to give you trust and confidence in yourself. I want you to know who you are by yourself before you commit yourself to someone else.

How can you freely love another until you come to appreciate and love all there there is about you first? Love is more than marrying and starting a family as quickly as possible. It is more than the racing heartbeat, the blood coursing through your veins, and the can't get him out of your head kind of love. It is also a contentment within yourself. That contentment is as necessary to a marriage as water is to a flower. Without it, it will wither.

I see you shaking your head at me stubbornly. You get that from me. I see so much of me in you. Trust me in what I am saying to you. I know that you know what love is. I don't doubt that for a minute. I am telling you that the love you feel can be 100 times better than it is right this moment!

I want for you what I never had, the chance to explore the world around you. Go out there and find out what stuff you are made of! Don't rush from being under my wing to being under his. Find yourself first. All of the love and pride you feel for yourself will spill out onto everyone around you when that happens. You will glow like the brightest star, I know you can be. You want him, yes. You love him, yes. But, you don't need him. No...you don't. You need yourself. You need to live for yourself first. Only then will you have the confidence and grace to handle couplehood. You will come to the relationship as an equal. It will be better for it. It will be stronger for it.

There is no magic age, honey. I married young, you know that. What you don't know is that I am plagued with self-doubt which shakes the very foundation of my own relationship. I don't know what I'm made of. I never took the chance that I want you to have. I jumped from your grandparents' home to your father's, without pausing to breathe in between, one nest to another. I never flew. Don't get me wrong. I have been so blessed with you as my child. I am so proud of the woman that you have become. I can't help feeling pride that I had a little something to do with that. I do not regret having you for one instant. I would not change a thing in my life, if that change meant you would be any different.

I only ask that you don't decide your life this instant. You need to learn to fly solo before you can fly tandem. That is the lesson I have learned from my past. I pass it on to you hoping that you will also learn from it. If he is the right one, he will be waiting in the wings cheering you on. So that when the two of you do come together, you won't be dangling beneath ineffectually but working in unison as you fly to new heights. You will both be better for it.

It is ultimately your decision, dear. I may be wrong and you already know firmly who you are. Only you know that. I will love and support you whatever you decide. I have faith and confidence in YOU. I always have. Now it's your turn. Go fly.

Love, Mom

I'm all for being "sure" that you want to marry -- for knowing the time is right, but just as some people are responsible enough to hold down a job at sixteen, others are ready to marry before the age of 25.

Take me, for example.

I met my husband in my first year at university. I was eighteen, he was twenty five. I'd never been 'in love' before -- just a long unrequited infatuation. He was on the rebound from a broken engagement.

It sounds like a recipe for disaster, doesn't it?

Maybe it would have been, if I hadn't been a mature eighteen-year-old, and he hadn't been emotionally aware, but then, we are the people we are.

We didn't rush headlong into a commitment. I had a degree to earn, and a future of my own to prepare for. I wasn't ever going to give up my individuality to be a man's possession -- even if I gave up my name to be his wife.

After a year, we moved in together. We made no promises to each other, no long term plans, we just wanted to share our living space, to see how we handled being together all the time. We rowed, often, but we laughed more.

After another year, he took a twelve-month contract in Saudi Arabia, and we again made no promises, but agreed that we would see how, having handled being together, we could handle being apart. There was no 'net then, and I didn't even have a phone, so, for a year, we wrote weekly letters to each other, speaking only three times -- once at Christmas, and once on my twenty-first bithday, and finally on the day I got my results, when I was able to tell him I'd earned First Class Honours in my degree.

I met him at the airport when he came home. Shy, terrified and not sure whether he would still want me, or I would still want him.

When we hugged, and he kissed me, and I stood in his arms, I knew. This was the one for me, and this was where I wanted to be for the rest of my life. He proposed in a matter of weeks, and we married a month after my twenty-second birthday. The date was 22nd March, 1986, we've recently celebrated our fifteenth anniversary.

Marriage is a big thing, and you shouldn't rush into it, any more than you should rush into any big decision, without thinking things through -- but it's about people, not numbers on a calendar.

Update: January 2011 - and now we are planning to renew our vows in a couple of months, to celebrate our 25th.

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