I come from a large Catholic family. My parents got married when my mother was 18 and my dad was 21 and they will have been married 54 years this October. They have 26 grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren.
My older brother got married when he was 21 and his wife was 19. They have been married 30 years and have eleven children and nine grandchildren. His oldest son married at 20 and he and his wife have been married for 10 years and have 5 children. I could continue on about happy families that start out young because I know a lot of them, despite the fact that my specialty is helping divorced men and women. But I won’t, I just wanted to highlight these examples in contrast to a recent blog post I read entitled, Why I Believe Marriage Shouldn’t Be Allowed Before Age 25
Now at first glance, the title of the article sounds a lot like many of my own laments regarding engaged couple approaching the altar (or the beach, or the Vegas backdrop, etc.) with wishes of a happily ever-after that are so entirely unrealistic, it’s heartbreaking. I’ve said several times, it should be harder to get married, not harder to get divorced. And I believe that sentiment is probably at the root of Ms. Nagy’s article. But it’s not stated that way and actually misses the point entirely.
Her point was that people haven’t matured sufficiently or lived enough life before the age of 25 to be capable of settling down in a monogamous relationship. While I commiserate with the author and her unhappiness about being divorced at the age of 29, I vehemently disagree with her point.
The problem with marriage and divorce is not rooted in the age in which people marry, but their state of readiness for this romantic, exciting, challenging, and often difficult time. Do couples today understand what it takes to make a marriage work?
The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly
Marriage is thrilling as you stand together on the altar looking like a million bucks while your family and friends watch you take your vows. How romantic it is to take your first kiss as man and wife!
Marriage is so wonderfully sublime as you return from your honeymoon and settle into your new home. To begin building this family life together through the weeks, the months, and the years is an unbelievable privilege, especially when the children come and the family grows. The memories that are made, the bonds that form become unbreakable and bring unbelievable joy.
And this is what is important to remember: When the difficult times come, marriage is still a privilege.
It’s a privilege to be together when a job is lost, financial difficulties set in, you can’t sleep at night and the stress level becomes almost unbearable.
It’s a privilege to be together when the husband works all day, comes home and cooks dinner, does the laundry, puts the kids to bed and gets up and does it all over again because his pregnant wife is on bed rest.
It’s a privilege to be together when your child is in the hospital with a serious condition and you have to sleep on chairs for nights on end.
It’s a privilege to get fat together (sorry people, I don’t care how skinny you are now, it’s a reality) and realize how much you’ve changed since your wedding day.
It’s a privilege to argue with each other, to know each other’s deepest secrets, to see all the good stuff that no one else sees, to cheer each other on, to keep each other in line, to laugh at all the jokes only the two of you know, to pray together, be strong together, no matter what. It’s a privilege to be married.
And this sense of privilege seems to be missed by so many people… except those who are divorced.
A good and lasting marriage doesn’t depend on age. It’s not about how your spouse can make you happy. It’s about how you can make your spouse happy and how you can get each other to heaven. It depends on maturity and appreciation of this beautiful gift God gave us. George Elliot said it best:
What greater thing is there for two human souls than to feel that they are joined for life – to strengthen each other in all labor, to rest on each other in all sorrow, to minister to each other in all pain, to be one with each other in silent, unspeakable memories at the moment of the last parting (George Elliott [aka Mary Anne Evans], Adam Bede)