In Defense Of Marrying Young

For every person who gets married at 23, there are three people who complain about people who get married at 23. I’ll tell you upfront: when I got married I was 22. My husband was 28.

One of the first arguments a young engaged couple will get is that you, being a young pup in your early twenties, aren’t even a “you” yet, silly! You aren’t even fully formed! You don’t even know who you are! Although most young marries find this statement to be condescending, I respect and understand what they are trying to say. I hope, though, that I am never done changing, never done growing. I would not wait until I reach a point of stagnation to commit to another person – if I did I would be single forever. Instead, I look forward to growing and changing with my husband. That is the beauty of a wedding vow — that you promise to love the other person through all of life’s changes – even the ones that occur within you.

The most irritating argument I’ve come across is, “You haven’t even lived yet! Go out there and kiss a few frogs! Your twenties are for dating around and partying!” What’s most striking is the assumption that we all want what you want.

At a young age I met one of the good ones. Not a creeper, not a liar, not a player, not a loser. We dated for three years. According to your rules of how my twenties should be spent, I should… what exactly? Break up with a person who treats me well, makes me laugh, has intelligence and ambition, who has the same values as I do — I should do this so I can date around? So I can struggle to find guys worthy of spending time with? So I can wade through the dating scene? As much as I sometimes romanticize that phase of life and how passionate and exciting it is, I also know that it’s full of frustration, anger, jealousy and insecurity. According to you I should break up with a good man so I could go search for a man just like him?

Not all of us want to sleep around and have casual sex. I was a little too neurotic and insecure for that game. Many of us date because we are searching for someone to be our partner in life. To create a family with. We enjoy the security of a relationship that has permanence. A lot of people shudder at those things — permanence, commitment, family. I don’t. I want those things, and when I got it, I kept it.

My parents married young and have been together 37 years. My husband’s family married young and have been together 42. I’ll be the first to admit that I view marriage through rosy goggles secured with unicorn hair, but as biased as I may be, equally so are the critics of marriage in general and young marriage in particular.

We have all seen couples who anticipate their wedding more than they do their marriage. We have seen couples fail to grow and change together, so they change and grow apart. We have seen divorces after a few years, months or days. But these occur at all stages of life, with all ages of people. Even if you feel that it’s a mistake to get married so young, it is not your mistake to make. The increasingly pervasive ideology of “if I don’t agree with it then it’s wrong” has got to stop.

I do not claim that marriage is for everyone or that family is for everyone. So please don’t claim that young marriage should be for no one. TC mark

image – Shutterstock


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  • Whitney

    Here here! I completely agree and empathize with this article.
    I, too, got married at 22 and my husband was 25. We both waited to have sex until we got married–and never got into the “partying” phase of the twenties that everyone seems so keen to have. We both have stable jobs and our only debt is our mortgage. We’re more stable than most people older than us–and I don’t see why getting married at such a “young” age is such a problem. I think the only thing that matters is the maturity of the couple and what they want out of life, which you pointed out so articulately.
    Thanks for this post! I’ll definitely be sharing it.

  • FJB


  • Only L<3Ve @

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  • Paula

    This is a pretty fascinating truth bomb to the readership of a blog that primarily exists to help 20-somethings cope with their longing for nostalgia, hyper-insecurity of their own lives and fear of a future of loneliness. Kudos for writing it, kudos for publishing it.

    • Megan


    • laura

      THIS! i agree.

    • alix sophia

      ^ (thank you.)

    • A.


  • JC

    Don’t you get that most of us are just, I hesitate to use the word but, jealous? No one would even date me let alone marry me, I can’t fathom that at my age (23) someone would actually say “yep okay, I want to potentially spend my life with you”.

    • Lacey

      I agree. I think what you have found is wonderful and would not criticize you at all. JC is right, everyone else is just jealous or bitter. What you have is very rare. Good for you!!

      • Nat

        Hmmm, The whole “jealous/ bitter” argument is a cop-out argument. Notice, adults and voices of reason (many happily MARRIED) are part of the observers who suggest for young, prospective couples to enjoy the prime of their life and develop through experiences yet to be had. It is crucial to our evolution as persons.

    • Ve

      I legit wonder if I’ll ever get married. My older sisters have never been married and my brother’s been married twice.

  • Lizzie

    I’m with you except I haven’t found the guy yet. If I had found him then I would have no problem settling down. I feel completely insecure that at 23 I am not in a relationship that is headed towards marriage. I do think you need to date more than one person in your lifetime before you settle down. I have a friend my age who has been dating the same guy since she was 15 (he is the only guy she has even kissed) and she admits that they aren’t happy together anymore but more stuck because they have been together for so long that they can’t fathom not being together. That isn’t healthy.

  • DJM

    Interesting piece. But, I’d just like to point something out. You said: “Not all of us want to sleep around and have casual sex.” If you’re going to write a piece that is entirely about how people should not be condescending to you simply because you are married, maybe you shouldn’t be equally condescending to us non-married folks. The fact that I’m not married and have no intention to marry does not automatically mean I “sleep around.” Just saying.

    • Richa Kashelkar

      Haha! Very valid point DJM.

      @Author- You wrote a whole article on how people should not judge you based on your choices or criticise them, but all you did throughout the article was criticise everyone else who doesn’t choose to marry young. This seems like a very bitter piece of writing to me. Not that I am against marrying young, but just saying that everyone who wants to wait out till they mature do not necessarily want to “sleep around” and “kiss all the frogs”.
      Best of luck for your marriage.

      • Mary

        I really don’t think that’s what she was saying, nor did I get that vibe. She was simply making a counter point towards people who DO say those things. Not a blanket statement towards everyone who doesn’t want to get married.

    • noahgrace

      lol agreed

    • J

      That’s what I thought when I read that part. Way to be a hypocrite Julie!!

    • Katie

      That isn’t the least bit condescending. It’s stating a fact- “Not all of us want to sleep around and have casual sex.” That’s true, and there’s no judgment in it. Would you feel the same way about the statement, “Not all of us want to be married with 2.2 kids”?

      • noahgrace

        it’s assuming people who don’t get married early (or don’t want to get married) have chosen that path because they want to sleep around and have casual sex. no judgement? right.

      • Alex

        It was making a sweeping statement. “Everyone who isn’t married must be sleeping around and having casual sex”. Meanwhile she’s moaning about people saying to her “people shouldn’t get married when they’re young/all young marriages end badly.”. That’s pretty annoying.

      • Katie

        …except it wasn’t. She never said “everyone.” Don’t read more into it than what’s there.

      • Alex

        I’m not. If she didn’t want it to sound that way, she should’ve worded it better.

    • DJM

      @Katie In the context of a piece that’s all about how other people should not be condescending about someone’s life choices, there’s no way to read it as being anything other than condescending. I’m not trying to denigrate her entire point, but I just think it’s worth noting that perhaps the author shouldn’t have used such a sweeping generalization in an article meant to prevent people from making exactly those types of statements in her direction.

      • DJM

        And yes, she didn’t literally say “everyone,” but the entire article is written as “you” said this, “you” want that, “you,” made this criticism…etc. So, yes, as a matter of rhetoric, she is making that statement directly to me, the reader, and every other unmarried person reading it. If she didn’t intend for it to be taken that way, she shouldn’t have written it that way.

      • Nat

        I love you. Exactly!!!!

      • matt

        Seriously, not everything is about you. The way you interpreted that statement says more about you than it says about the writer.

    • Jenn

      In all honesty, “sleeping around and having casual sex” is morally ambiguous. It can be fun, and exciting for some people and in this day and age women are as free to do as they please as men (even though this was always the case but not as many women embraced it).

      You’re assigning your moral perspective on to the author’s words — not her own. She didn’t go out of her way to bash 20-somethings who do party and hook up, she was just sharing her inclinations towards sex and dating — which she is allowed to have.

    • Wendigo

      The title is “IN DEFENSE”. So, don’t you think that maybe the author was, I don’t know… defending herself against those who DO criticize her for not wanting to have casual sex, etc? Look at the entire picture here, maybe.

  • Golden Shovel (@gshovelling)

    Too much of a risk, sure it works out for some people, but the odds are it won’t. People arguing for it are arguing with their hearts and not their heads. Wait until you are least 27.

    • noahgrace


    • Maddy

      Marriage is not a game of “odds.” It is something you have to work at and put the effort into it. It isn’t a coin flip, “Ope, now we have to get divorced! Sorry babe!”

      You think with your heart just as much when you’re 27 as you do when you’re 22/23, why put an arbitrary number on when you can marry? Especially if four years down the road you’ll be with the same person? “HONEY PHEW WE’RE 27 LET’S GO GET MARRIED NOW”

      • noahgrace

        no. it’s because at 21 and 22 and 23 you don’t know who you are. you have no idea how you will be making money in 10 years. you barely have a first full time job. You have no idea about your own personal preferences let alone joining someone else’s preferences to make important life decisions.
        that’s not saying everyone will know these things at 27. but those 4 years go a long way. People change the most from age 25 to 30. our parents’ times were different, so that argument is dead. it’s a new era.

      • Shea

        Agreed 100%!!!! Let’s get married. But not for a while.

      • Hry

        I’m gonna statistic you. Age at marriage for those who divorce is instructive. Women who married at 24 or younger constitute 64% of the divorcees in America, men 50%. When you also consider that marriage at a young age is pretty rare….. individual marriages might not be a game of odds, but looking at the macro picture, let’s just say the odds are definitely not in marrying young’s favour.

      • matt

        some people (rare though they may be) do have a strong sense of self at an early age. And she specifically notes, that she’s plans to change for the rest of her life, so she’s going to continually get to know herself.

    • Daniel Smith

      You need to be careful with statistics correlation does not equal causation. Run the numbers again, this time removing anyone that was married after the girl became pregnant, or when one of the individuals is 17 or younger. You will quickly find the numbers are drastically skewed by other factors. In fact I would hypothesize that the divorce rate is just as good if not better among those getting married from 20-25 as those getting married from 25-30 once those factors are considered.

      • Maddy

        Exactly! Things like marriage cannot just be put to odds. It’s like when people say the odds of getting hit by lightning are higher than those of winning the lottery. What if you never buy lottery tickets? What if you like to run around during thunderstorms?

        Odds and statistics can’t be applied as so black-and-white to things with hundreds of factors influencing them.

        And Matt’s right. Just like some 27 year olds still don’t know who they are and what they want, some 21 year olds do.

  • tres keys (@tr_sk_ys)

    Great article! I think people more often criticize the younger people who don’t really have a clear sense of “intelligence and ambition” like you obviously do.

  • SA

    Love this. So glad you wrote it. I’m only 21 but I do hope to get married within the next few years if I find the right guy. By no means am I going to settle, but if I do feel he is right and everything else in my life is going well (finances, etc.) then I would get married. I hate that people say your twenties are just about partying and living it up. Doesn’t that get old? *cough Ryan O’Connell cough*

  • CT

    this was wonderful. i am nowhere near getting married but i appreciated everything you said so much.

  • Timothy

    I like your article and I agree with it. However, I am personally glad I did not get married when I was younger because then my wife would have had to put up with my immaturity and baggage that I thought I didn’t have at the time. I do think I’ve missed out by waiting as long as I have, but I like to think it will all work out for the better.

  • will hc


  • Anna Marum

    “The increasingly pervasive ideology of ‘if I don’t agree with it then it’s wrong’ has got to stop.” Such a good point – we should all try to stop thinking like this.

  • noahgrace

    “I also know that [the dating scene] is full of frustration, anger, jealousy and insecurity.”
    hmmm I think you’re a little insecure about getting married early, hence your article?

    We all want to find the right person for us and grow old with them.
    I’m sometimes jealous of people who find that person in their teens and twenties.
    it saves a lot of heartbreaks.
    I’m 29 and single. do I regret a minute of dating the “wrong” guys?
    on the contrary, I embrace every minute of it, every heartbreak, every first kiss, every excitement.
    Some of us are curious and THRIVE on trying different flavors.
    to each their own.
    I personally don’t and I don’t know people who criticize people who fall in love and get married early. but if writing an article makes you feel better about it then all the power to you.

    • Mary

      I think you are saying exactly what this article is trying to say. You have just never heard the other side, but I for one, know LOTS of people who criticize young marriage like its the plague.

  • micheleelyse

    Loved this article! Couldn’t agree more. I’m 25 and getting married this October, but I’ve been dating my fiance since I was 18. If you find “The One” early, why keep looking?

  • PeteScotch is worth acknowledging. I’m not massively influenced by these things, but have def noticed a pattern of extreme change as people hit the 29/30 mark. People continue to change and grow throughout their life but the extreme change that occurs between the ages of 25-30 mean that most people come out of that period completely different people and mostly with a different perspective and set of values that they did not posses at a younger age. There are exceptions to this of course and the romantic in me would love to believe you could work through this stage and continue through the rest of your life with someone, and great if you have. You’re one of the lucky ones. Enjoy

  • Pamela

    What this article is missing is the reality that getting married at any age needs to be a mature choice made by two emotionally healthy individuals, without societal pressure. I love that I had my children young and will more than likely have the opportunity to know my grandchildren and watch them grow up. I hate that my children were raised with divorced parents, which was a result of marrying when I was 18 and their father was 19. I wasn’t pregnant, just stupid. It was 3 years before we started our family. There are advantages and disadvantages and everyone has to choose their own path. Some people can marry young and it works, but more don’t. The smart thing is to just take your time and enjoy your life. We all change and grow constantly, so you can’t even say you need to find yourself. I’m almost 40 and change every day.

  • Sarah

    Not all 20 something year olds really know what they truly want. For some, it takes experience and mistakes to really define and clarify what he/she want in a person to be his/her life-long partner and what he/she wants for him/herself. I think the reason why people are against marrying so young is because a lot of people thing marriage is the end all to end all achievement in life. We often see marriages go sour (like you’ve stated) because people change and grow apart and that risk is far too great for people to bare.Some people think marriage is being complacent, especially when you’re young. I think the point when someone questions you on “why you want to get married at a young age?” is trying to provoke you to really think about your decision that shouldn’t be based off of unjustifiable/stereotypical reasons such as “he’s the one — you just know” or you think it’s the next step in your life that you should take or the next step in your relationship (what does that even mean?).

    And I agree with DJM — I’m not married, but in a relationship. Not necessarily serious, but it’s long-term. I don’t sleep around and never had in college, nor plan on it (& yes I am in my early 20s — 22 to be exact). Marriage isn’t in the cards for us because there’s a lot we want to achieve before having a family. And who knows if we still want each other in 5 years? I don’t. What I do know is that he’s what I want right now. It may change, it may not — who knows. (which supports my first point — not all 20 something year olds know what they truly want)

    • Sarah

      excuse the grammatical errors — currently multi-tasking.

  • kate

    Another interesting aspect to the “don’t marry young” argument is extremely long-term relationships. What I mean is, if two 23-year-olds who have been dating for three years marry, people judge them and think they’re too young and making a mistake. If that same couple was to continue to date for five more years and marry at 28, people would think it’s totally fine. Same people, same relationship, different number. It’s silly.

    That being said, the latter is what I plan to do for fear of one or the both of us changing dramatically. And also I don’t want to grow up.

  • Helen

    You know, I’d love to know how old the author is?? From her twitter picture she only looks in her mid to late twenties now…. I think she might want to wait till she’s been married longer before dishing out the advice. It is impressive that both hers and her husbands parents have been married for so long but I’d prefer to receive advice from them… Do they regret marrying young? Do they think they’ve missed out?

    • Lacey

      I met my first husband when I was 18. We lived together for many years before we got married when I was 27. The marriage lasted less than 2 years. Its a crapshoot.

    • shark

      Well, at least she didn’t miss out on enjoying her current marriage. ;)

    • Valerie

      I agree that an age would have been helpful. She received her BA from Arizona State in ’08, so she’s about 26.

      I’m glad that her marriage is working out for her. That’s wonderful. My parents were married young and are still together. However, their situation is not one that I am at all envious of.

    • julieshockley

      Hi Helen, thanks for the comment. I’m 26 and have been married 4 years. I don’t think I was offering advice in this article – I was asking for people to stop judging others (especially people who marry at a young age) so much and stop projecting their opinions on others. Trust me, I do value the experience and advice that my parents and in-laws have to give. Thank you for reading!

      • Lacey

        Julie, if this articles makes people stop judging others (about anything), I will nominate you for Saint Hood. : )

  • J

    Why do you feel you have to defend it?? You write from the point of view that everyone wants to get married but some earlier/later than others. Not everyone wants to get married, not to mention it doesn’t mean a thing anyway. You could walk away tomorrow with very little consequence in this day and age. Be interesting to hear from you in 15 or 20 years.

    • manana

      I don’t think you even understand her point, J.

      • J


  • Dan

    What bothers me about the article but more specifically the way some of the commenters are reading it is the implication that there’s something wrong with “sleeping around” and “casual sex.” I agree that if you’re not married or not in a LTR it does not follow that you’re promiscuous and boning all the time. However, if you are, a priori there’s nothing wrong with it.

    • noahgrace

      marry me Dan lol

  • Nicole

    Well la-di-fucking-da.

    • diana salier (@dianasalier)


    • Alex

      Also agreed.

    • Nat

      Woop, there it is. Concur.

  • Katie

    I admit to being one of those people who cynically thinks that those who marry young will probably divorce, but you sound like you got married for all the right reasons and didn’t rush into it. If you’re in love and mature enough to marry, go for it! Also, I really want to be married and am not (and I’m 28), so while I can’t speak for everyone, there is some jealousy involved often when I say things like that.

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