GUEST POST BY Nicole Rachel Lester
We are all searching for that special someone. The person who we can spend the rest of our lives with. Many people think that marriage is the way to celebrate that union and secure the promise “till death do us part” but how do we know when we have found THE ONE? How do we know that there is no better? Should we automatically reject our first love in order to gain more experience of life before making this commitment? Specifically, “Can you be too young to contemplate marriage?”
In the past, the younger a girl got married the better and in some societies, this is still the case. However, in western cultures as women have gained equality and the possibility of choosing a more independent life, young marriages are generally frowned upon.
In an attempt to understand what people of today really feel about the idea of young marriage I got in touch with parents of young adults and young adults themselves to ask them what they think. In asking the parents there was undoubtedly a negative trend forming, with one saying “as a young adult you still have no idea who you are, let alone who you want to spend the rest of your life with” this is an interesting point as it seems to assume that parents think their children are perhaps too naïve to make this important decision and still have a lot to learn from life before settling down with anyone. One parent said “you like to think that the mistakes you personally make and the experience you have got out of life can help guide your kids so they don’t have to make them themselves, and when it comes to marrying someone at a young age all you can do is advise them. Personally, I think that it is way too soon at the age of 19 or even 20 to make that big step but love is a funny thing and makes you do funny things”
I met with Grace and Daniel, both 19, who have now been engaged for two months and together for 4 years, and it was clear that they were besotted with each other. They also attempted to spread some light on the matter at hand and went a long way in convincing me that some people can actually be ready for this big step, even at such a young age. Grace led the way by telling me that “as cliché as it sounds, from the first moment I met Daniel I knew he was the one, I know people may look at us and think we are mad for thinking that it is even possible at this age to find that “special someone” but I honestly think I have, Daniel is my best friend and I can’t imagine life without him. Who knows what will happen in the future but when do you really know? It’s not like as you get older you gain the ability to see into the future and tell if this person you are with is truly the one.” For me, at this moment, I truly felt as if they both had their head screwed on properly and knew exactly what they were getting into. Daniel then followed by saying “My parents keep asking me “but you have so much time to have fun and explore life! Why settle down now?!” and my only answer is…because I want to have fun and explore life with Grace. She doesn’t hold me back and I hope I don’t hold her back from becoming the best people we can be, in fact, every day we grow together, so what is really the harm if I want to make her my wife?” To sit down and speak to two people who were about to embark on such a big adventure together, really put things into perspective. They were focused on the fact that they were in love, age simply wasn’t a factor and they didn’t care what anyone else thought. Maybe there really is such a thing as soul mates and these two love birds just happened to find theirs at the age of 15.
As ever with such discussions, sweeping conclusions are difficult and dangerous to make. So much depends on the individual concerned. Some people mature faster than others, some people lead a full life and others are very sheltered for much of it. Undoubtedly, making the decision to marry at a young age is to make the decision without experiencing a lot of the youthful times that single people experience. On the other hand, how many times do older people look back wistfully at their first love and wish that things had been different? For me, however, this is in fact not the central issue. The law has changed so much over the last few decades to make divorce not only quick and simple but even socially acceptable. The central issue is the decision to start a family. That is the true commitment, whether married or not, the decision to bring another human being into this world is the major one and one which binds you to another person for the rest of your life.