Mormon Early Marriage Culture

When I came home from my mission, I only half jokingly asserted that I would be married or excommunicated within a year. [snort!] And in fact I was–I got married just two weeks shy of my 22nd birthday, when I was still 21. It’s not like it was hard or anything. BYU is a big ponzi scheme set up for just this sort of matrimonial action. Getting married there was like falling off a log; if we still practiced polygamy, I could have gotten married ten times over before my senior year.

To be quite honest, at the time I never gave this common practice a second thought. Everyone did it; it was normal within my social circle. I went through law school with not only a wife but a child, which made me a very odd duck in that context, but even then I didn’t give it a second thought.

Although I’m happy with the way things worked out for me, now that I”m older I sometimes look back and wonder “What was I thinking?” My children (neither active in the Church) are in their mid-20s (one turning 28 this fall, the other turning 23), and neither is anywhere close to getting married (or wanting to), and I frankly cannot even fathom them getting married at so young an age. But in a couple of months my daughter will be seven years older than I was when I got married!

Actually, to be honest I know what I was thinking. I had hormones popping out of my ears, and I was a good Mormon boy for whom sex outside of marriage was not an option. As long as that is our standard, we will continue to have a culture of quick and early marriages.

What do you think about this? Good thing, bad thing, neutral? What war stories do you have to share on this subject?

Comments

  1. Natalie B. says:

    I think there are things we could do to encourage a later marriage age, besides lifting a (desirable) ban on sex before marriage. Examples:

    1. Encourage women to get more education or work experience. If this was seen as a priority, then people would need to plan for it.

    2. Charge more for BYU. Starting a family feels more daunting when one is in debt and aware of the financial burden raising a family entails.

    Whether or not getting married early is a good thing strikes me as debatable and case-specific.

  2. Really, Kevin Barney? Do you really reduce your early marriage age to the fact that you merely wanted to have “legal conjugal relations”? Hmm. I had always viewed our culture’s young marriage age average to a variety of factors, including the Church’s strong teaching to not delay marriage (lately, no “hanging out”), the teaching to get on with having children, and a general attitude that marriage is eternally important. Not saying that the general horniness of youth isn’t a factor, just that I don’t think it’s the ONLY factor.

    For the record, I got married at 23. And, like you, looking back, that seems awfully young.

  3. Steve Evans says:

    Here is a good reason to get married young and to have kids while young: you don’t want to be old with young kids.

  4. What Steve said.

  5. If you want a temple marriage you basically cannot be in a serious relationship as a young adult without either getting married or breaking up. I suspect most people are marrying their first serious relationship. Maybe it’s a good one, maybe it’s not. I think I lucked out, but still, if I had it to do over again I would not get married at 20.

  6. “As long as that is our standard, we will continue to have a culture of quick and early marriages.”
    This is only true if kids don’t know how to get a hold of their hormones. There are a lot of people I know who didn’t get married until they were done with college who waited til marriage to have sex (myself included). I think it more the worldly cultural that says you cannot put of having sex that pushes people to get married quickly so they can have sex.

  7. Steve Evans says:

    Do the numbers support the claim that getting married older results in a more stable relationship?

  8. Funny, I just had a conversation about this with a colleague. He said all the Mormons he knows get married young and asked why, and I said it was basically because we believe we shouldn’t have sex until we’re married so people have a big incentive to not wait.

    He said he’s Catholic and his church teaches that too, but no one does it, so why do Mormons? That was harder to answer. I said it has to do with the fact that families are central in our theology, and that temple marriage is a very important religious rite. Without the carrot of a temple recommend, I think we’d see different marriage trends.

    I don’t think the culture of early marriages is the greatest because the divorce rate is higher the younger people are at the age of marriage, but the culture of GETTING married is good, for lots of reasons.

  9. What Mytha said (change 20 to 21).

  10. I regret having gotten married so young … 1 1/2 yrs after my mission, 23, freshman in college, no means of support. I believe the stress of school, no money and me not having any clue as to what or who I was led both my wife and I into way more stress and difficulty than was needed. I believe we suffer the hangover of this now, 22 years later. My own daughter, a junior in college and 20 yrs. old is the same age my wife was when we were married. She has no desire to get married and I can’t even fathom that happening. I say good! I hold unresolved anger and resentment at the “Brethren” for propagating this mentality and what it has evolved into at BYU. I agree, it probably isn’t good to unnecessarily postpone marriage and family for worldy reasons. However as people do they take it too far and turn it into something it wasn’t intended to be.

  11. I think part of this is also driven by the wider cultural value we place on female beauty & youth. If every second a woman waits decreases her bargaining power, and all your peers are making hay while the sun shines then there is a lot of pressure to get married before all the good guys are taken.
    A way to move away from this would be to de-emphasize beauty as *the* best quality about a potential wife, discourage wide age differences between spouses (why would your 30 year old peer marry you when he could marry a 22 year old instead?), and try to play down the notion that there is just one type of good spouse (namely that everyone likes different sorts of people, so your peers getting married doesn’t mean there will be fewer acceptable partners for you).

  12. Married young (22 to a 19 year old) as did all my LDS relatives. No issues with it. Also glad I had my kids young. Age catches up with you. Chasing young kids is really a younger persons game. I have peers who are just now thinking about kids in their late thirties and early forties. Are they in for a surprise!!!

    Temple married LDS folks have a much lower divorce rate then the national average so what is the big deal about so many of us marrying young?

  13. Kevin Barney says:

    Hunter no. 2, don’t you think that “the Church’s strong teaching to not delay marriage (lately, no “hanging out”)” is at least in part in realization that if everyone starts delaying marriage as in the ambient culture, the odds of premarital sexual activity are going to go through the roof? I don’t think the Church’s counsel on this is unrelated to the sex thing.

    Steve no.3, good point. I’m really glad I had my kids when I was young; many of my peers still have small children they’re trying to chase around.

    Emily U. no. 8, I don’t think the Catholic thing is quite the same. I have lots of Catholic friends, and the commitment to avoiding premarital sex was, shall we say, more theoretical than reflective of boots-on-the-ground reality for them. There’s certainly no spectre of church discipline for a Catholic who does this as there would be for a Mormon.

  14. Steve Evans says:

    It’s not just a matter of chasing around the young kids; I just don’t know how effective a parent you can be to, say, a teenager when you’re forty years older than she/he.

    Maybe young marriage frightens because the stakes seem so high. That may be true, but I’m not convinced that waiting longer results in happier marriages.

  15. Kevin Barney says:

    Tom no. 10 mentions some of the potential problems with early marriage. Being still early in one’s education without adequate financial resources. Not really knowing your intended as well as you should. For that matter, not really knowing yourself yet as well as you should.

    Early marriage also increases the odds of “bait and switch” situations, where you marry what you think is one person, but as he or she grows and matures he or she becomes a different person, which is not what you thought you had bargained for. (This can include commitment to the Church.)

    (To be clear, I”m not arguing for either position, I’m just curious what your thoughts are.)

  16. Steve,

    I agree its about a lot more then just chasing young kids. I also see the age gap as an issue. Its hard to deny that a 40 year old father of a 16 year old is better able to keep up with his kid then a 60 year old father. In all ways and not just physically.

  17. I think times are changing, Kevin. I understand that the majority of students leave BYU without getting married. We’re a long way from the swinging 70s when marriage was like falling off of a log (grin).

  18. Jonathan Green says:

    Kevin, I think you’re too easily dismissing the central and frequently emphasized pro-marriage teachings. Reading them as mere anti-fornication propaganda is reductive in the extreme. Also, you would add a lot to this post with a bit of statistical context. How does the Mormon marriage age compare to the national average?

  19. This modern movement toward marrying late is screwing up people’s relationships. Think about it – the first 10 years are NOT EASY, but you have more energy for that struggle if you’re younger. Plus, you have more energy to deal with your kids when you’re younger (don’t get me started on modern flaws in parenting). There are a million reasons to marrying young, and the lack of enough sexual partners isn’t a reason to hold off. If you’ve found your soulmate, why risk losing them to years of dithering and dating, rather than committing to them to time and eternity early-on? What about your children? Would you really give up the years you had, young and optimistic years, where you happened to be raising a child or two? I can only think of selfishness as a reason to hold off till you’re near (or past) 30 to marry.

  20. “BYU is a big ponzi scheme set up for just this sort of matrimonial action.”
    Ha! So true. I got married at 20 and had my first baby at 21. In retrospect, I think I was way too young and (more importantly) inexperienced to know what I was getting myself into.
    That said, I think there are some real benefits to marrying and starting a family early. As Steve said, I’m so glad I’m young while I have young kids at home. I can feel such a difference between being 21 and being 31 in terms of my energy level.
    Also, all of my kids will be in school full-time by the time I’m 36, leaving me free to pursue a graduate degree which I missed out on in my twenties. And, really, I feel like I’ll get a lot more out of graduate studies now than I would have when I was younger.

  21. I find it personally offensive that this is how we look at the youth in the church–walking bags of hormones that are lucky if they make it to 21 without stumbling into an orgy or a marriage bed.

    The fact of the matter is that the devotion of our youth is some of the strongest to be found in the Church today. The fact that my peers are getting married so young, more often than not, is evidence of that devotion.

    We’ve been instructed to get married as soon as we possibly can because the ordinances that are attached to marriage are crucial to our exaltation. I’ve seen great sacrifices in the lives of too many youth and YSA who understand their place within this generation to ever believe what adults continuously say about us. We aren’t preparing for/getting married for sex. We’re obeying the commandments of the Lord.

    And may I just say that if you ever have a question in your mind about why our youth stray from the Church, THIS is the perfect example. They are tired of the disrespect that older members show them through propogated stereotypes and assumptions. We don’t deserve that kind of criticism, and neither does the Church for supporting us.

    I don’t mean to bear contention, but this has to be said. Get the mote out of your own eye before you start pointing out beams in the youth.

  22. I gave a talk about missionary on my second Sunday in my singles ward after my mission, and I made the statement that I was holding out for a returned sister missionary.

    Maybe if we encouraged more young women to go on missions, the marriage age would increase. Couple that with Natalie’s push to encourage more girls to actually graduate, and you’re almost guaranteeing getting married at 23/24 (for girls).

  23. One more thing, I think that being married has tempered my inclination to become a bit more stubborn and cynical as I’ve gotten older. I am forced to look at things from a different perspective on an (almost) daily basis.

  24. I bristle whenever I come across the argument that abstinence is a key driver behind early marriages among young Mormons. It seems ludicrously reductive and simplistic. I always wonder what kind of thoughts precede this argument. I imagine the arguer picturing a young BYU couple, making out on a front room couch…the clock strikes 11:59 and the couple dutifully parts. Pent up with sexual frustration, each thinks to him or her self “if only we were married.” Silly.

    It should be no surprise that those who value abstinence tend to value family relationships, and are eager to form families of their own.

  25. Kevin Barney says:

    I don’t really have any good figures on comparitive ages at first marriage between LDS and non-LDS. If anyone has some, please post them here.

    J. Stapley may be right that things have slowed down since BYU’s go-go days in the 70s; see the information in this post:

    http://bycommonconsent.com/2007/12/31/dating-and-marriage-at-the-zoo/

    I find it interesting that many of you think the pressure for early marriage in the church is unrelated to the issue of premarital sex. I guess I’m a little bit more cynical than y’all on this aspect of the issue. Sure, marriage is vitally important in the eternal scheme of things, but as long as you get married, what difference does it or should it make whether you marry at 22 or 28? Why should the Church push the former and not the latter?

  26. John Mansfield says:
  27. Kevin,

    One issue is retention

  28. Whoa, Paradox. If you re-read, you’ll see that Kevin was talking about himself, not you or other youth of today. Get off your soapbox.

  29. #21,

    “We’ve been instructed to get married as soon as we possibly can…” Yikes! This is probably not a generally held view, right? If so what is “as soon as we possible can?” 18 years old (legal adult)? 16 (hey, you can drive)? 12 (potentially sexually viable)? Paradox, please wield your rhetoric in a responsible way.

  30. Kevin Barney says:

    queuno no. 22, interesting point about more girls going on missions. There’s a bit of an irony there. Girls have to wait until age 21 to leave; this is meant as a mild disincentive to go on a mission and a mild incentive to marry instead. But if more girls would ignore the built-in incentives and just go on a mission, the built-in incentives would actually have the effect of raising first-marriage ages.

  31. John Mansfield says:

    I had the idea that BCC accepted images in comments. (Maybe it does and I’m doing it wrong.) So, that I may be a bit less vacuous than my comment #26, here’s a <a href="http://www.seattlepi.com/dayart/20041202/Unmarried-1202.gif"link to an interesting graph of marriage ages over the last few decades. As one commentator wrote about this graph when it came out, “The age of first marriage for women crept upward after 1960, perhaps due to increasing levels of higher education for women. But the marriage age for men had stayed right at 23 until about 1973, after which it shot upwards for about two decades before stabilizing at around 27. Indeed, if I had to guess the very day the average age of marriage for men started to rise, I’d put my money on Jan. 22, 1973, the day the Supreme Court legalized abortion in Roe v. Wade.”

    To the degree that Latter-day Saints are aloof to changes in abortion laws, they would not share the same experience as the rest of the American nation. However, they are part of the same economic markets (labor, housing) as their countrymen, which increasely is formed around those under 25 or 30 living a parastic existence, preparing, preparing for the day they will become productive and sustain not only themselves, but others too. Not a helpful setting for early marriage, and perhaps too much for many to keep themselves unspotted from.

  32. Steve Evans says:

    Paradox, I think your use of the phrase “this has to be said” is very interesting.

  33. John Mansfield says:

    Ah, bad linking. Trying again.

    link

  34. Get the mote out of your own eye before you start pointing out beams in the youth.

    Well, that’s the most ironic thing I’ve read all day…

  35. Kevin Barney says:

    John Mansfield no. 33, thanks so much for posting that informative link.

  36. Larry the Cable Guy says:

    I think that marrying at an early age increases both the risks and rewards. If you can pull it off then you enjoy a longer period of time with a spouse, have a chance to raise kids when you are younger and things are cheaper, and you can either hit the empty nest finish line earlier in life or extend the child-raising phase as it suits you.

    On the other hand, you are more exposed to all of the risks that come with attaching yourself to someone else, and your financial, spiritual, and emotional bumps are probably going to be higher as a result.

    In general terms, I think that the larger packs of decently responsible and faithful young adults that you find in the church’s education programs will maximize the potential rewards and minimize the potential risks.

  37. Kevin Barney says:

    Larry the Cable Guy no. 36, hey, I really like the way you’ve put it there. That makes a lot of sense to me.

  38. #36 Brad:

    I agree with Paradox. If young men are pitching tents with beams, neither Kevin or anyone else should go around pointing them out. Decency people. And we wonder why youth leave the church in droves.

  39. john willis says:

    Has anyone (including Kevin) read the article in the August Christianity Today by David Rengnerus entitled “The case for Early Marriage” Rengnerus is a sociologist at the University of Texas and is a Evangelical Christian. He feels uncomfortable with the fact that Evangelicals are marrying later as are Latter Day Saints. He points to what he sees as problems with the abstinence culture of evangelicals that lead to unwise early marriages. Many of the things he talks about are quite relevant to latter day saints. The issue of the magazine also has a number of articles about the problems of older evangelical singles which are very relevant to the situation of LDS singles.
    I can’t send a link but just google ‘the case for early marriage” and “David Rengnerus”
    I would be interested in your reaction to the article from an LDS perspective.

  40. Molly Bennion says:

    bbell, yes, temple married LDS have a lower divorce rate than the national average, but I would love to see a study treating whether they are happier or more committed to the marriage covenant. When bishop of a middle income family ward, my husband’s father told us he only had 4 marriages he could count on as happy. How typical is that?

  41. Kevin Barney says:

    Here’s the link for the Mark TRegnerus article, “The Case for (Early) Marriage”:

    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2009/august/16.22.html

    Thanks for pointing us to it, John, it does indeed look very relevant to this discussion.

  42. John Mansfield says:

    Molly Bennion, unhappy, loveless marriage is underrated and underrespected. As your father-in-law’s count indicates, that’s where the bulk of the action is holding society together.

  43. I’ve had this conversation very recently with friends who both married young (as I did – 21) and who waited until they were in their 30s.

    I wasn’t always sure if marrying young was a great idea – you certainly get a lot of looks from people while you’re in grad school married with a child. But now, I really think it often makes for better marriages than those who wait.

    When you get married young, you aren’t very stuck in your ways yet, you’re still flexible. Young love is a beautiful thing – I’m not sure if it’s something you can ever obtain once you reach a certain age. It’s idealistic and unrealistic in many ways – but that idealism sustains you through some tough times.

    I feel like my husband and I grew together – really almost ‘grew up’ together. After 20 years together, it feels like we can conquer almost anything.

    For the most part, my friends who married in their 30s (or even those who are still seeking) had a very different experience. They are looking for this sort of perfect version of what they’ve been waiting for. They are already pretty established and set in their ways. The arguments seem more heated and less likely to be resolved quickly. There seems to be less compromise.

    Having children young is stressful, but not any more stressful than having them later. Being a young mom was good thing for me. I would not be as good at mothering at this age as I was in my 20s. We have friends who are having their first children in their late 30s and early 40s and that is a life altering experience! They have read all the books and think they know a lot about how they want to raise their child – and they also have more money to do it than those parents in their 20s. But they do not have the energy or the enthusiasm for it that I had in my 20s.

    I really think that there is wisdom in marrying in our 20s. I’m honestly sure convinced there’s anything inherently better about a marriage started later. Having more time to establish education, personal goals, careers and economic stability do not always mean that the marriage will be better – just different. And possibly, some of those things run counter to the idea of growing together in a union you build gradually from the ground up.

  44. Kevin Barney says:

    bandanamom no. 43, good point about people becoming set in their ways over time.

    And I just finished the Early Marriage article (linked above). Very interesting. He describes five typical reasons for delaying marriage and offers counterpoints to favor early marriage. It was definitely material useful to this topic.

  45. Does anybody know if the reputed low divorce rates for temple marriage are counting all civil divorces or cancelled sealings only?

  46. I think the social pressure to get married young is very high. In my case I chose mission over marriage and it was the right decision for me. In my husband’s case, he married young and divorced before meeting me. It would have been better for him to have waited.

    However, my mother and both sisters married before the age of 20 and it was the right time for them.

    The pressure probably causes earlier marriages, but I think because of the importance placed on eternal marriage that they seem to work out well for the most part.

  47. Mytha,

    Maybe Ray will chime in here (he has at his fingertips the data) but using either measure its considerable lower. The civil divorce rate is higher then the cacelled sealing rate FWIW.

  48. Re #31 and #33

    Thanks for the good link. The historical trend in average age at first marriage is also interesting before the 1950s. The census bureau has information indicating that the age was higher in the late 1800s and early 1900s (26.1 for men, 22 for women in 1890) before falling to earlier ages in the mid 20th century, and then rising again in the last 50 years.

    http://www.census.gov/population/socdemo/hh-fam/ms2.pdf

    The source says the earlier information comes from the census, while the later data come from the Current Population Survey; I don’t know if that causes any of the difference in ages. Any historians out there to give some context for these trends? I’m particularly interested to know if Utah followed the same pattern.

  49. Molly Bennion says:

    John Mansfield, Sadly, I agree with you. At least, when lovelessness is discovered or develops too late. But I would welcome changes which would encourage happier marriages in the first place or along the line, to be desired not only by the parties, but by that society held together by too many unhappy ones. Your underrespected marriages can do much good but sometimes at high cost.

  50. KB #15– Bait and switch? Then really we should all get married when we are 50, or better 60, when we will change even less.

    As to what Starfoxy pointed out, it would be interesting to see the national average age gap between married men and women compared to Mormons.

  51. I married at the ripe old age of 26… it’s frightening to think of WHO I would have married had i married at 18. YIKES! Old age brings better judgment. Women are having babies well into their 40s these days… I say, what’s the rush??

  52. I don’t think that the inevitable judgmental looks from people who hold themselves to be morally superior for not having children while studying is a very good reason for anyone to avoid marriage and children when they feel that they have found the right person and the time is right for them, even if they are 21 when that happens.

    Re # 24, the original post doesn’t say much more than that Kevin himself just got married for the sex.

    Re # 1 — seriously? Raise the cost of BYU education so that the students will struggle with debt and won’t be able to afford marriage and children? That is indeed a novel approach.

    I think there are marginal advantages to waiting until 24 or so for marriage (as opposed to marrying at 21 or 20) for some of the reasons alluded to above, e.g. at 21, even if a returned missionary, a guy might still be essentially a teenager trying to figure out his own identity; the same goes for a girl who is 20 or 21 or so and getting ready to marry that guy. Coasting and dating for a couple more years, until 24 or so, seems a cautious approach and would allow someone to be somewhat more adjusted. Or not — in this day and age there are plenty of “man-children” who aren’t any more mature or self-aware at 24 than they were at 21 or 15 for that matter, even at BYU.

    However, expecting people to wait until they’re 27 or 32 etc. (and for what reason — to be more acceptable to broader society’s tastes with regard to marriage age?) seems to enter the territory of diminishing returns in comparison to 24 or 25 or so.

    In the end, I’d go with the following rule of thumb: get married when you’ve found someone you’re in love with and want to spend eternity with. If you pass her or him up because you’re only 21 or 22 and think you should coast for a while, well then that just seems foolish.

  53. “I can only think of selfishness as a reason to hold off till you’re near (or past) 30 to marry.”

    Wow. That’s a pretty broad brush-stroke.

    My husband and I were 31 when we were sealed and have a very loving and happy marriage. We aren’t selfish people by nature and both truly believe we both had other things to accomplish before marriage. Is that selfish? (He had dental school and residency and I taught special education for 10 years.)

    So yes Steve Evans, it’s tough chasing toddlers at 38, but my appreciation and gratitude for what I have is priceless.

  54. I married at 19 and had two kids by the time I was 22. It never occured to us that there were any other options. Waiting to marry, or focusing on completing education before having a passel of kids wasn’t what was taught. We were perfectly happy in our ignorance and poverty. I’m 35 now, and I think our decision to have kids first set us back financially about 10 years. I had no idea at the time, the opportunity cost of our choices. Was it worth it? Would I do it again? Probably, but I’m going to make sure my 5 boys are raised to be really clear on all the pros and cons of these choices. But honestly, I’d rather they do just what we did. We were poor, we made sacrifices, but we’ve been very, very happy. As long as they’re acting on inspiration, they can do whatever they feel is right.

  55. My wife and I were married when we were both 21. (We were high school sweethearts and knew each other very well so I cannot speak to the topic of speedy BYU courtships.) The night before we were married I packed all of my belongings into two suitcases and put them in the trunk of the car she bought with money she earned while I was a missionary. I brought absolutely NOTHING of material value to this marriage and we both knew it. It was obvious that our committment was about us and nothing else.

    It is true that the economics of our early marriage/kids have been very difficult and a topic of frequent heated discussion. Many of these economic troubles would have been avoided by getting married later. I think that starting with more financial security is the biggest benefit we could have received from waiting. However, I simply can’t convince myself that econimics is a justifiable (in a gospel sense) reason to avoid young marriage. After more than ten years of marriage I still find comfort in the fact that she accepted me as a young pup with woefully uncertain financial potential. I am extremely happy with what we have built together; I THINK she concurs!

    I don’t find offensive the implication that hormones prod us toward marriage. Seems like they exist to bring us together; our early marriages (assuming strong, loving commitment) seem like evidence that the system is working.

    I have an identical twin brother: same genes, same hormonen levels, virtually same personality. He was almost 27 when he got married after finishing a graduate program and working for a few years. He insists I did it the easy way.

  56. Ditto, hallelujah, and amen to what Kate (#51) just said. (I married at 25.)

    A friend of mine (who also married in her mid-twenties, long after most of our friends had wed and begun pro-creating) used to say something wise: Some people have the trial of getting married very young and struggling through their “growing-up years” together. Others of us had the trial of waiting for a while before we found the person with whom we wanted to spend eternity.

  57. #52 – sure it does. last sentence, fourth paragraph.

  58. Kevin Barney says:

    John f. no. 52, I didn’t *just* get married for the sex. But I probably wouldn’t have married just ten months off of my mission but for that element.

  59. re # 57, the sentence to which you refer is a fallacy in which Kevin “confesses” that his motivation was to have legalized sex and then, based on that, projects or assumes that this must also be the actual reason the rest of Mormondom is doing so.

  60. Our oldest and youngest are 21 years apart. There were good things about having them young and good things about having them older. Some young marriages work out and some don’t. The main thing is to give yourself a chance to find the right person. If that person comes along when you are 17, so be it.

  61. I think one thing missing from this conversation is how early marriage age – and perhaps more, early childbearing age – affects the economic independence of women. I don’t have any statistics in my hip pocket, but I am guessing that women who give birth to the first child later in life have higher levels of education and have established their own careers. Early childbearing for women precludes higher education and established work experience. For those women who desire careers, marrying and having children very early will make this difficult (not impossible). To each her own.

  62. From a church wide standpoint, there are a couple of consequences that ensue when women, in particular, marry at older ages.

    1. They are able to have fewer children. Perhaps the trend towards smaller family sizes among Mormons has occurred irrespective of age at marriage, so that many couples would still choose to have three or four children whether the woman was 19 or 30 when she married. However, marriage at age 30 almost certainly precludes 6 or 7 children. I wonder if the GAs are worried about declining family size and its impact on church growth and the missionary force.

    2. Women who marry at older ages are more likely to have a career and other experiences that make the opportunity costs of staying home with children more difficult to bear.

    I have wondered if the 21 year old requirement for sister missionaries is at all fueled by these sorts of concerns.

    And as a sidenote, is anyone else bothered by the idea that seems implicit in much of this discussion that anyone who wants to can attain a temple married? That is is easy (can be accomplished even 4 times over) or that selfishness is a major factor for those that are older and still single?

  63. Stephanie says:

    A few thoughts on this:

    1. (Not speaking of Kevin’s kids, but just in general) People are taking a lot longer to grow up these days. Kids are turning 18 and continuing to live in mom and dad’s basement for years (a conference talk referenced this) – and a lot of parents are OK with this. I tend to think that all of this just extends how long kids are allowed to be irresponsible. I think this relates to why people in general society are waiting longer to get married – they want to play and party all through their 20s and settle down in their 30s. This seems to be filtering into Mormon culture as well. Is it a good thing? I tend to think no.

    2. Although more women are having kids in their late 30s and early 40s, that doesn’t change the risks. It is still risker after you are 35. And if couples want to have a lot of kids, it is harder when you start later. Getting married in your early to mid 20s (if you have the opportunity) gives you 10-15 good years of childbearing before the risks increase. If you want 6 kids, you need that kind of time.

    3. There are a lot of positives to being poor when you first get married. My husband and I bought a mattress, couch, table (no chairs) and bookcase. We were ecstatic to have our own little apartment. We had a $25/week food budget when we were both in college. And life was good. We have appreciated every step of the way. I didn’t have a nursery for my first three kids. I finally finished decorating one when #4 was a year old. When you are poor and make-do, you realize how many things aren’t really necessary to your happiness.

    4. I agree that it is ideal to get married after college, but I don’t think that means that you need to wait until 24 or 25. My mom got married at 21 and dropped out of school. I knew there was no way I was going to do that, so I worked my tail off and finished my BS in 3 years. I graduated right before getting married (at 21) and then went straight into graduate school. I had my first son 2 months after getting my MBA. I was able to fit it all in because I planned for it. I think this relates to the idea in #1 that kids are taking so long to grow up. If we help them plan and prepare and set expectations that they won’t screw around with school and career but will buckle down and get serious, they will be able to work it all in. Not that it won’t be hard, but it’s possible. And fun.

  64. #59 – i agree.

    perhaps my original comment should have read “just because kevin is a ‘walking bag of hormones’ doesn’t mean the rest of us are.” =)

  65. I’m going to agree with Kevin’s suggestion that hormones play a role in quick and early marriages. Hormones have a way of expediting the marriage process.

    While it is a small sample, among most of my unmarried RM friends, there seems to be a threshold that is hit around 25 or 26 in which keeping the law of chastity becomes either impractical, not a high priority, doesn’t seem as big a deal as it did at a younger age, too hard, etc. Once that line is crossed church activity becomes challenging. In light of this, I bet a case could be made that earlier marriages result in a higher likelihood of church retention down the road.

  66. Peter LLC says:

    14: I just don’t know how effective a parent you can be to, say, a teenager when you’re forty years older than she/he.

    Don’t forget that Mormon families not only start young, but they also tend to be big, and having all those kids takes time. I’m the last in line and my parents were 39 and 40 when I was born. I might be a bum, but I wouldn’t place the blame on my parents’ age.

  67. Something cool about marrying young and starting a family early — there is a good chance you will be a healthy, active great grandparent as a result. I think there could be more of real value in that experience than in any (marginal, let’s face it) economic advantage one might get by waiting until one’s 30s to get married. Of course, one could still be a great grandparent by getting married at that age too so who knows?

  68. I married at 23, my wife was 21. She was girl next door.
    We did not go to BYU. Therefore, niether one of us ‘lost’ our family or home town as is the case with a BYU marriage.
    This was repeated with our children. THEREFORE, in our 50s, we were (and still are) caring for grandchildren. I believe this was the Mormon family valued in earliers days.

  69. totally agreed with #67 & 68.

  70. #62 – yep GA’s are definitely worried about the decline in family size. Take a look at the talk given by President Packer at the 2006 Women’s conference. He talks about his personal concern starting on page 7.
    Children of God

    I really like the idea of marrying and staring a family after both of you have completed your education. It certainly worked for my husband and I. We married at ages 25 and 24 respectively. We had both served missions. I had finished my degree and he only had a few classes left which he completed fairly quickly. I just think it gives you a little better start on life. But that doesn’t mean that young marriages don’t work out wonderfully too. I just think you struggle a little less if you wait until your mid-20′s.

  71. Anon this time says:

    After nearly 20 years of marriage, I believe now that I was ill-prepared to marry when I did at the age of 24. I had dated very little and as Mytha #5 said, it was my first serious relationship. I believe I idealized (and probably still do) what marriage would be like.

    Although LDS divorce rates are lower than the national average, I agree as has been mentioned that it would be interesting to compare marital satisfaction between LDS and national averages.

  72. I married young and just attended the wedding of my son who also married young. I have zero regrets about getting married when I did. What I do regret is dropping out of school. In retrospect, we should have both struggled along and graduated. I think CTK (#61) makes an extremely valid point and one that I have hounded on with my kids.

    One thing I did absolutely right was to wait four years before having a child and I have counseled my son that he should do the same. The double whammy of growing up together in a marriage and also raising a baby is daunting.

    We have recently found that, as we start to launch the fledglings from the nest, we are rekindling some of those feelings we had during those 4 years before becoming parents and I am love, love, loving the fact that we still have enough energy to gross our kids out!

  73. John Mansfield says:

    How about death? My mother died at 38, and when I was 27 and unmarried, that occassionally figured into a sense of needing to find a spouse before my time ran out too. (More such musings on age and marriage and death here for those who like that kind of thing.)

  74. J. I see no evidence that age of marriage has shifted at BYU. Most of my seniors are married.

    It’s not so much the age of marriage that I see as a problem in LDS culture as the shortness of the engagement. My wife and I did not know each other to a sufficient depth to make a life long commitment. We met in Dec. and were married by April. This is not uncommon. We often comment that we were just very lucky. We have many friends that were not so luckily. I would like to see statistics on the happiness levels in short engagement marriages. I don’t have a problem with young marriages, but I would like to see more getting to know each other a bit before heading to the temple.

  75. While the approbation of the world toward those who marry young is silly, this self-congratulation of those who marry young, because they happened to be ready and found a suitable spouse, seems equally distasteful.

    I had several chances to marry younger than I did, and I did not. Not for financial reasons or because of my career, but because I knew that I was neither emotionally prepared for marriage nor was I devoted enough to the women in question to make the necessary sacrifices without regrets. I married at 33, and my wife was 27. As most people, any other choice seems ridiculous.

    And the idea that an older parent cannot be as good as a younger parent to a teenager is absurd. As a high school teacher, my observation is that there is no correlation whatsoever. Some of the best parents for their kids have been old enough to be grandparents.

    I don’t mean to be a cranky old parent of toddlers who don’t let me get my old man sleep, but this has to be said. (Or BTHTBS, for future use.)

  76. #20–Hey sis! Fancy meeting you around the bloggernacle!

    #30–I was frequently advised by well-meaning (if slightly crazy and annoying) individuals to carefully consider the costs of missionary service as a woman, since if I went on a mission I might never get married. While that did not prove true in my case (just 8 weeks before my 24th birthday I married a barely 22-year-old RM the same day as my 20-year-old sister in #20 married her husband), there is some truth to that disincentive you speak about. While I was gone on my mission, a large portion of the young men my age were coming home from their missions and getting hitched. That narrowed the dating pool significantly.

    While I married a younger man, some of my friends had more difficulty finding men to date at BYU who might be interested in older women. That being said, BYU is an unusual environment, and it does create a certain amount of psychological pressure to jump on the marriage/family bandwagon. You can start to feel like life is passing you by, when kids who were born in the same decade in which you started high school are getting marreid before you are.

    In general, I feel that the success of marriage has a lot more to do with individual circumstances than age at the time of marriage. I have seen both good and bad outcomes for those who have married early, as well as those who have married later in life. There are pros and cons in each scenario, but I think that the most successful marriages are the ones where people realize that maintaining a happy marriage takes lots of hard work, patience and compromise.

  77. CTK and Michelle(#61 and #62) The way you’ve stated things, it sounds kind of like life ends when you marry and have children. Maybe that’s not what you meant?
    I think it is very doable to have a family (even a large family- I have 5 kids) when young and then pursue education/career once your children are at an age where you feel comfortable leaving them in others’ hands for a portion of the day.
    Is it really wrong to ask people to give their younger years (when that is a possibility) to raising a family when they’re not giving up an established career and the sacrifice may be easier? I don’t think so. I’m sure there are advantages to having a family when you’re older as well, but really, having a family when you’re young is not so ill-advised as some make it out to be.
    and #71
    I think idealizing marriage can be a problem at any age. Maybe when we’re young we don’t have as much experience with our ideals being shattered by reality, but we can still be committed to accepting marital challenges as they come. I don’t think anyone is going to make it through life successfully without facing reality. Sometimes a less-than-ideal marriage is the catalyst to learning that we all need to do our best no matter our circumstances and just push through those tough times. (I’m excluding, of course, things like abusive realationships)

  78. well, you showed me where it was, bekah (#76).

  79. Kevin Barney you remind of Glen Beck and his comment about joining the Church to have sex with his wife.

    Just curious does your wife know about it? If she does what she thinks about it? If it was me and you told me the reason your married me was hormonal you would probably be sleeping in the couch from now on. You’re a lucky guy.

  80. Hopefully I won’t be repeating something already said, but I had a thought that I wanted to express and feared forgetting it if I read all of the comments.

    There has been a concern expressed that the women in the church who marry young end up not finishing school, or not even starting. Or, to put it another way, young people would get married later if the young women finished their higher education. I have five older brothers, four or whom are currently married, and myself. Of the five of us, four of my sisters-in-law are college graduates. My wife is still in school, but will graduate in December. So my family has a 100% success rate of marriage in the early-20s that results in a husband and a wife who are college graduates. (And there are a number of graduate degrees on the way, too.)

    Outside of my family, I have several friends in the area who have recently gotten married. Not one of them includes a college drop-out. So what are we doing right that everyone else is doing wrong? (And no, the answer isn’t not going to BYU – three of my brothers and their wives are BYU grads.)

  81. Kevin Barney says:

    Maria no. 79, see my no. 58.

  82. I’m with Nameless 72. My wife and I waited six years to have a kid, and in our case, it was necessary for all kinds of reasons.

    Of course, my younger bro has 3 kids and he’s not even done with law school, and he and his young wife are ostensibly just as happy as we are. So who knows?

  83. Anon this time says:

    Karen #77,
    I think some “idealization” can be good and healthy to the relationship IF both husband and wife share similar ideas. The trouble, I think, arises where there becomes a wide gap between what the two hope for the relationship. Maybe idealistic isn’t the best word. If one partner has high but realistic expectations and the other doesn’t, there is bound to be some disappointment I think.

  84. One should not overlook the fact that marriage at a later age increases the chance of infertility. Marriage at a young age increases the chance of viable offspring.

  85. Karen (77), I was just musing about the effects of the age at marriage at the larger church wide scale and wondering if the church might have any incentive for encouraging marriage at younger ages. On an individual level, no, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with getting married and having children when the sacrifices are not as great. Neither do I think that there are any inherent problems getting married at older ages. At a personal level, so many different personal circumstances can result in marital satisfaction, as many others have said previously.

  86. #30 and #76, your comments reminded me of a conversation I had with a young man at BYU when I told him I was going to serve a mission. His response: “Why? You’re pretty enough. You could get married, you don’t have to go.” I was and am astounded by that line of thought. It leaves me speechless, really.

    My first really serious relationship had all the makings of a Mormon fairy-tale. He joined the church when we were dating, we served missions simultaneously. The understanding was that we would get married when we were both home. Despite whatever raging hormones might have been clouding my view, they certainly didn’t speak louder than the lack of love I felt for him after 2 weeks of dating post-mission. I’m glad that at 23 I was smart enough to know that I didn’t have to get married even though it seemed like I should, and even though I only had 1 semester left at BYU, had spent the previous 5 years of my life imagining an eternity with this guy, etc. I trusted that true love was out there somewhere.

    But that’s just my story. And, from reading these comments, it seems that everyone has a story, what worked for them, and they run the full range of possibilities as far as age is concerned.

  87. Anon (#83) I see your point. I didn’t mean to imply that you are unwilling to face reality. High expectations are good.

  88. Hi Karen (77) -
    Life does not end at kids- at least mine hasn’t! But, it does get a lot more complicated. I meet so many women in the church who had kids before completing their education and then find it financially/logistically infeasible to complete their education later. Is it impossible? Not at all. And as I said, to each her own. But I’m speaking about trends, and I think that the larger conversation was missing the perspective of women who want higher education/ careers (I recognize that many don’t and make absolutely no judgment on that). I’m just pointing out that there is more than one opportunity cost to early childbearing for women.

  89. First-time commenter but frequent lurker here. I really liked the observations in #63. I’m sure that’s because the poster’s situation is very similar to my own. (Baby #3 was two months old when my husband graduated from law school. And I have my degree because I planned well and graduated shortly before getting married.)

    I have no regrets about marrying young (22 for me, 23 for my husband). The lean, struggling student days helped us to grow and appreciate what we have. I wouldn’t change the timing of anything.

    For us, marrying young and starting a family relatively soon was the right thing to do.

    I guess what I really want to say is that for two people who are willing to both work hard at a marriage, keep their covenants, and pray like crazy there can be dozens of “right” times to get married and start a family. Like so many things do, timing it right all depends on the people involved.

    All happy marriages–whether they began when the couple was 20, 30, or 40–should be celebrated. And all parents–whether parenthood began in their 20s, 30s, or 40s–should do the best they can to prepare their own children to be ready for the commitment and covenants involved in a temple marriage. It’s that preparation that will make all the difference. Some will be prepared in their early 20s; others will not.

    Sorry I got longwinded. Thanks for letting me share.

  90. #75. I think your second paragraph said it well. When you’re prepared and find the person you’re willing to commit to, then it’s go-time. The timing is bound to vary. I have to disagree with your first paragraph, though. Since the OP asked for people’s opinion on whether they think early marriage is a good thing, I don’t think it’s self-congratulatory for people to share their success stories. That being said, as I read my comment above (#55), it does read awkwardly. While in our case the only incentive to wait would have been financial, I definitely don’t take it as a universal truth.

  91. CTK and Michelle (84 and 87), I think I see what you’re saying.
    It is definitely more complicated to continue education once children are part of the equation. It could seem like church leaders are implicitly discouraging higher education in women by encouraging early marriage and child-bearing. Maybe that’s why they also emphasize education so much, to women and men?
    I guess we’re just left on our own to figure out how to fit it all in (which, as you’ve both said, is possible, if one wishes to do so).

  92. Man, you guys. For a never-married 39-year-old, this thread is incredibly depressing.

    #62 “And as a sidenote, is anyone else bothered by the idea that seems implicit in much of this discussion that anyone who wants to can attain a temple married? That is is easy (can be accomplished even 4 times over) or that selfishness is a major factor for those that are older and still single?”

    Yes, a million times YES.

  93. Earlyschmearly says:

    My husband and I married in our early 40s after having tortured ourselves over why we hadn’t found each other to that point. In our 20s, we were devoted Latter-day Saints, avid temple-goers; the works. By our 30s, we were each becoming jaded and cynical. Three masters’ degrees and two doctorates later, we had given up hope in the Church’s efficacy and the possibility of finding marriage partners. By our 40s, we had left the Church, begun to enjoy successes in our careers, and found each other. We paid cash for our 1st home, filled it with all new furniture, entertain often, and travel the world. We have absolutely no regrets.

    Oh, and we were virgins when we met and married.

  94. Stephanie (63) makes a number of good points, however I’m not convinced the first point is necessarily bad: we’re living longer and occupations are frequently becoming more specialized. All stages of life are spreading out as a result, and taking time to get adequate schooling uninterrupted by familial responsibilities can have value.

    The main pitfall that Mark Regnerus (the same author of the Christianity Today article) pointed out in a recent Washington Post opinion piece is that, while our total years are going up, child-bearing years are not… at least not without the help of expensive medical procedures.

    I think the interesting clash here is that larger families were more necessity when children contributed to the family finances and died at higher rates. Now, they’re a net cost to families and there’s less need to churn out large numbers of them, as Andrew Cherlin pointed out in his rebuttal to Regnerus.

    My wife’s high school friends (most Mormon, from rural Idaho) all got married quickly (one’s on her 3rd) and had several kids by the time she got married at 27 after completing a mission and her Master’s degree. My friends from the East were a mixed bag, some married early, some later, some not yet. The only divorces I’ve seen so far are from the 18-20 crowd. Beyond just a Mormon thing, there are regional cultural expectations that affect early marriage.

    One friend in the married-at-18-divorced-at-20 crowd told me that she realized later that she’d missed having time in life where she could learn to be independent – an essential part of maturity. While marriage requires interdependence and it can take adjusting for two very independent people to come together, I think there’s a lot to be said for learning that you can fly on your own, at least for a little while.

    What brought me and my wife together in our mid-20′s were similar visions and goals for ourselves (besides having spouse & kids) that we started building alone, found they meshed and have continued to refine together. I value that, and I just don’t think that would have been the case with an earlier marriage. While Regnerus advocates younger marriage for women (less vital for men) to favor maximizing child-bearing years, I like much more that my wife and I are more equally yoked in vision and experience.

    And yes, though we’ve lived comfortably so far, dropping 1.5 incomes with baby arriving and my starting grad school will certainly still provide us the chance to struggle together.

  95. Why all the attacks on Kevin and accusations of reductionisms and chauvinism? Seems to me that he is making appropriate use of Occam’s razor. That these young marriages are usually preceded by extremely short courtships only underscores his main conclusion – sex is a principal motivator. Do any of you really think that the young marriages would continue as the norm across the membership if the strict prohibition on sex were significantly slackened or removed? Really?
    Don’t we (wrongly?) believe and teach that most sex sins are just short of murder in their evilness?

  96. john willis says:

    I have enjoyed reading all the comments in which people talk about their personal experiences about marrying younger or later in life.
    I would like to point out some long term social and economic trends that have affected the average age at marriage for both LDS and non/LDS and are not going to go away.

    Median age at first marriage was low in the later 40′s,1950′s and 60′s because of favorable social and economic conditions. Returned G.I’s had the GI bill to help them through school, (my parents had me in 1949 while my dad was in school on the GI bill). VA loans and low interest rate made it easy to buy a first home, a man could graduate from high school, get a job at a local maufacturing plant, stay there for his whole working life and start supporting a family immediately. College grads had it even better.

    THOSE DAYS ARE GONE FOREVER. Post high school training is a must to maintan a middle class lifestyle and support a family, it will be much more difficult for persons in their 20′s to buy a house and those who haven’t been to college face the prospects of plant closures and relatively declining wages. Even college grads are facing tough job market in the recession and a very different econmic environment long term.

    As I said these trends are not going to go away. While the early LDS marriage culture may keep the average age at marriage for the LDS lower than the National average we are not the Amish and cannot expect LDS young people to not feel the impact of these trends.

    Talks by General authorities that young men should stop “hanging out” and start dating seriously will not make these social and econmic facts go away.

    I don’t really think the Lord cares that much if we marry at 20, 25 or 25. He cares that we are living Christ Like lives and serve our fellow beings in and out of the LDS church.

    I’m not so sure that being married or not has much to do with being a real Christian. Unfortunately it has a lot to do with how well we fit into mainstram Mormon Culture.

  97. StillConfused says:

    I married young and had my kids young though not for religious reasons. But I was an air traffic controller at 21 which paid very well and so was my spouse. I am now in my early 40s and my yongest is a senior in college (though only 19). I am very glad that I did it this way because this is what works best for my personality type. But I don’t recommend it for everyone.

    My daughter just got married at 21 years old. She was the last of her friends to get married. She has friends who have been married and have more than one child! But she got her bachelors degree at 19 and has been on her own for a while, so it wasn’t nearly as scary. THey plan to wait 5 years for children though for financial reasons.

    My son is 19 and a senior in college. He has not even been on a date yet. He has no plans to get married in the near future.

  98. Lulubelle says:

    Hey– I don’t understand the comments about how hard it is to have kids when you’re older and how the age gap means you can’t relate to kids. I completely, totally, and utterly disagree. I’m almost 42. My youngest daughter will turn 4 years old in 8 days. I have enough energy to care for my kids and relate to them. I also waited to have kids until I could afford them and provide nice lives for them. I love the life I can provide them. We enjoy each other immensely. We travel all over the world. We go to Broadway shoes, the opera, symphonies, baseball games, and fairs and everything in between. I love that I had rich life experiences before I embarked on wifehood and parenthood and wouldn’t trade those wonderfully values for anything– nor would I have cut them short. Being single and without kids is an important life phase and I will never ever understand the pressure/need to rush out of it. We have (hopefully) many many many years to be married when we find the right person. Why not savor that time of growing, getting to know yourself, getting educated, and grounded before adding so much responsibility prematurely? I waited until almost 29 to get married and wouldn’t trade in one single day of it. I hope to God my daughters don’t get married young.

  99. I joined the church when I was 16 and went to BYU where I saw numerous 18 year old girls get engaged and then married. I am from the East coast and in this culture, many people are waiting until their 30′s; I got married at 27, my husband was 29.

    Even though I was nowhere near ready for marriage in my early 20′s, and although I think 18 is a bit young, I do find some disadvantage to marrying as late as I did. For one, our parents are aging and have need of our help, which puts us in a difficult position because we are still raising our children (15, 13, 10). I have also experienced some health problems, and am at a high risk for cancer, and may very well have to fight cancer while still raising my children. My husband would love to take an early retirement option from his company before his job is eliminated, and meanwhile we still have three children to get through college.

    In today’s society, youth are taking longer and longer to mature. I have a nephew who is almost the age I was when I met my husband, and he still has not held a steady job for more that a few weeks. The implications of this scare me. I think we need to raise our children to be ready for marriage and family at an early age (by society’s standards). The Lord needs responsible adults to do his work.

  100. I got married at age 22. I would have done it sooner, but I couldn’t because I was on a mission. :)

  101. The problem with women pursuing higher education later in life is that it might not happen, and meanwhile the disparity in earning potential creates a power imbalance in the marriage, making women vulnerable to abuse. It also contributes to a lack of women in the workplace and in politics, which I think is a bad thing for society in general.

    It’s just not fair for the man to be guaranteed his education while the woman has to wait and see if there’s money left over at the end, deferring her hopes and dreams at the expense of his, and then trying to reach her professional goals in a much shorter number of years. Women are being treated as if their education and professional contributions are less important than men’s.

  102. Also, it forces young women into marriage before they have found their footing as adults and professionally, so they are vulnerable to being pushed around by their husbands, who are most often slightly older and more professionally advanced. This is disadvantageous because the wife has inadequate negotiating power at a time when lots of important life decisions are being made.

  103. Stephanie says:

    Christy, that’s a good point about caring for both aging parents and young children. My mom lived with me for a couple of years when I was having my fourth child. I wasn’t physically caring for her (like bathing, etc.) but the added stress of cleaning up after her, etc. was too much. I am really hoping to have my kids mostly grown before I have to start taking care of her.

  104. OTOH, z, the problem with women pursuing motherhood later in life is that it might not happen. I do get your concern about equality and power, but your assumption that all these young brides are marrying men who will push them around and treat their personal development as less important doesn’t seem quite fair. I do believe it’s foolish for women to neglect their education/career training in the hope that they’ll never need to support themselves. I definitely know it’s a tough balancing act for many women, so I try not to judge.

  105. I’m not assuming that they all will, but I definitely think it happens a lot, and I suspect that in some circles that’s seen as a feature rather than a bug.

    And it’s not just about supporting oneself and avoiding poverty, it’s about the satisfaction of making a professional contribution to the world, and the benefits to others of doing so. We shouldn’t act like women only cultivate their earning potential out of fear of poverty, or that that is the only reason for them to do so.

  106. First marriage: I was twenty-four but stupid–and pressured. Seriously pressured. My mother was concerned that I wouldn’t marry and encouraged me to date my first husband. Neither Mom nor I recognized the signs which were so clear: his daily temper tantrums; the constant conflict in his home which gave me pounding headaches. I thought i could save him and compensate for his terribly demanding mother.
    Second marriage: I was twenty-nine. I was looking for just a few things: Somebody kind, good, devoted to the gospel (since my ex was very anti-Mormon). I left my first marriage when I realized that my husband was going to be as abusive to my daughter as he had been to me. I decided to marry Bruce soon after my daughter spilled hot chocolate on him and he made a joke about it. No anger. No yelling. I was ready to marry him right then. I also think that had I not married my first husband, i would never have looked twice at Bruce. And I think i’m able to appreciate Bruce in ways some wives perhaps don’t appreciate their husbands. His little courtesies stand out as “good deeds in a weary world.”

  107. The church has a much easier time retaining young marrieds than it does young single adults. Since maintaining activity in the church is considered a fairly strong indication of faithfulness, the church has to either figure out how to retain singles or marry them young.

    So far, marrying them young works better.

  108. Has anyone ever considered the possibility that for a lot of people, single life sucks? I was so ready to marry my wife not because of the sex (although, that was a bonus), but because being single sucked. (Of course, I was still a student at BYU, but I had a real job.) I was only 23, and I realize all of the cool things I could have done single … but I was ready to get married, and I had neither means nor opportunity to do those cool things anyway.

    But in a very weird way that I won’t bore you with here, getting married at 23 was the single best career move I could have made for myself. It completely transformed my mentality toward internships and career preparation and I stumbled into the internship that has led to my career. Had I not gotten married, my life and career would have taken a completely different tack, for the worse.

  109. Rivkah #92: Amen! How depressing this all is for single little 33-year-old me! I had opportunities to marry in my early and late 20′s. It did not feel right either time, so I didn’t do it. I have never regretted those decisions. My heart skips a beat when I think back and realize that I almost did marry then. I am a totally different person now, and I would have missed out on so much. At the same time, my heart breaks daily because I have always wanted a large family, and the simple fact is that with every passing day that dream fades.

    The fact that I am single has nothing to do with being selfish (!) and I have rarely, if ever, found that to be a reason for anyone being single. May be unique to my experience, though.

    I couldn’t agree more that while marriage is important, when we marry is, in the big scheme of things, not that important. Yes, it will affect how many kids you can have. You may be a bit more tired chasing toddlers at 40. Or you may have to figure out who YOU are while you’re also figuring out who the 20-year-old man sleeping next to you is. It’s all case specific. Personally, I think an ideal time to marry is in your late 20′s, but it is just not something anyone can completely control (unless you marry solely for the sake of marrying). And to pressure young kids into getting married is silly and not, in my opinion, usually the best idea (even though it often works out just wonderfully).

    The church needs to encourage YW to get an education, go on missions, do whatever they want to do to be fulfilled as people. Knowledge is about the only think we take with us when we go. For those who want to marry young and start families it requires sacrifice and a lot of hard work, but it can be done. But education and growing as a person should not be painted as incompatible with motherhood and wifehood. Education is valuable for its own sake, not because you may need it if your husband can’t support you. Period. We need to encourage YW to get educations. And I see no problem whatsoever if that delays their child rearing until they are 24, 25, or beyond.

  110. I am an LDS female who married at 26 out of choice (not because it was the first time I could have). I chose to wait longer because I wanted to get to know who I was first so I could then find the best match. It’s worked out beautifully and I cannot complain in any sense of the amazing marriage I have.

    As for marrying young, I think it is fine as long as one condition is met: “…learn wisdom in thy youth” (Alma 37:35). If the parents teach wisdom, and the youth learn it, then an early marriage should be fine. Without wisdom, though, it’s bound to be difficult. It seems these days, with so many distractions available, it’s harder to find wisdom in our youth.

  111. Pedro Olavarria says:

    Good thing. I’m 29 and unmarried but not by choice. If I had it my way; I’d be married with children. There is only so much European vacation and stubbling home Saturday morning you can do before you should realize that we were made to love and love(in all it’s forms) is what brings joy. And as Lehi said….

  112. Sterling Fluharty says:

    It sounds like this discussion is in need of some statistics. Here is what you can find out about Utah in the 2007 American Community Survey:

    75% of men and 57% of women ages 20 to 24 had never been married

    37% of men and 26% of women ages 25 to 29 had never been married

    I would therefore estimate that the average age at which individuals were getting married in Utah in 2007 was about 28 for men and 26 for women

    These estimated average ages for the current generation are somewhat higher than the overall median ages at first marriage for the population that 15 to 54 years old: 25.2 for men and 22.8 for women

    10% of women and 7% of men ages 30 to 34 were divorced

    Nearly 12% of all babies born in the last twelve months were delivered by women ages 35 to 50 years old

    58% of all married women in Utah were in the labor force

    Here are some statistics about BYU:

    During the 1999-2000 school year, women comprised 55% of the undergraduates who graduated that year. For the last three years, the male to female ratio of undergraduates who graduated was exactly 50-50. You will see these numbers if you do a Google search for “y facts graduation.”

    Apparently BYU recently stopped released statistics about the proportion of students who were married at graduation. You can see this if you Google “byu graduation statistical highlights” (without the quotation marks) and compare the cached version with the current version of the web site.

    What we learn from the cached and archived versions of the web site is that the slow but perceptible decline in the marriage rate is taking place: 59.7% of the males and 49.0% of the females in the April 2007 class and 58.9% of the males and 46.6% of the females were married in the April 2008 class were married. Overall, counting both the December 2007 and April 2008 graduations, and combining bachelors, masters, and doctoral graduates into one lump sum figure, 53.2% of all the graduates at those commencement ceremonies were married. These proportion married among undergraduates, who comprised 86% of the graduating classes, was likely a little lower than this aggregate total.

  113. Kevin Barney says:

    Rivkah, Amanda and others: I’m sorry that this discussion is depressing for those who have not yet been able to marry at all. I can certainly see why it would be. I didn’t think about that aspect of things when I started it!

  114. Sterling, I looked for stats that broke age at first marriage down by religious affiliation, but couldn’t find any, at least in the two minutes I browsed. The Utah stats provide a proxy for Mormons–I am interested to see how rough it is. I would like to see age at temple marriage. My guess is that it would be younger than the overall Utah rates.

  115. Sterling Fluharty says:

    Michelle: The United States Census Bureau is probably forbidden by law from asking people about their religion. One proxy that works better than simply using Utah residents is to use state of birth. Hopefully a future version of Factfinder will allow us to use multiple variables for analysis. To get average age at temple marriage, we need to do better social science research. I have been working on a list of Mormon surnames that could help facilitate better surveying.

    Here are the comparable 2007 ACS stats for Utah County, which better reflect the likely age at temple marriage:

    70% of men and 64% of women ages 20 to 24 had never been married

    35% of men and 24% of women ages 25 to 29 had never been married

  116. StillConfused says:

    #115 – reverse that into the positive tense and those are very young ages for marriages! But I don’t know that it is bad. I am not sure that “good” or “bad” really applies to this. I had my kids young because that is when I had the energy. I completed college then and worked full time then too… because that is when I had the maximim energy. But I suspect there are those women who get their energy later in life.

  117. I’m sensing a pattern here. People who raised their children at a young age seem to think they had a lot more energy back then. People who raised their children at an older age seem to think they had plenty of energy. Maybe people have energy until they raise children.

  118. esodhiambo says:

    I always wonder when these discussions come up:

    How many chances did you have to marry?

    The discussion is based on the premise that we all have many opportunities to marry and that they come when we are both young and old. I don’t think that is the case for many people.

    I don’t know any Mormon who, for example, found a suitable partner at 22 and said/thought “I’m too young” and held on to that same partner for 5 years and then married him at 27.

    Instead, if an opportunity comes young, it is “accept this one now or lose him forever.” Right?

  119. Female
    Married almost 30 years
    19 at marriage
    4 kids (some as a young parent others as an old parent)
    advanced professional degree (me)
    undergrad degree (he)
    Careers both
    Sex, sometimes yes, sometimes no, life happens

    My experience tells me there are no guarantees one way or the other. You need to do whatever you can to make your own way and lean on the arm of the Lord. I don’t think I had the wherewithall to make different choices.

  120. Form what I can tell, the younger generation is not in such a big hurry to get married. IMHO, this is a good thing. In the 1980′s we saw unhappy situations because people were in too big of a hurry and later regretted it.

    Mike and I married young, we did not think so at the time. I was 21 and he was 24. Of our generation, we are the only ones, I have run into, who purposely put off having our children for 5 years until we were both out of school and on our feet.

    Believe you me, we caught a lot of flack for it. For us, this was the very best thing we could have done. We saw so many unhappy married couples at BYU who had children, and then could not go to school and provide for their family.

    I taught school while my oldest was young. When I finally was able to be a stay at home mom, I was thirty. What a joy that was! I was amazed at my peers who had been stay at home moms, who were unhappy and wanted to go back to school and/or work. THey felt they had missed out on something wonderful. They did not understand why I was so happy to stay at home (still am 17 years later). With school and work behind me, it was “been there, done that”.

    Not long ago I ran into some information about a couple who was very vocal against our waiting to have children. I found it amusing that we both have the same number of children (5). The difference is mine are younger and theirs are mostly gone.

    I feel I got to have it all; a college degree, a career, a few years as a single person, and a long time enjoying being a newlywed couple. Now that Mike is gone, I am so glad we had that time together.

    It is not so hard being a older mom. We have fun. We love each other. I don’t see that I do anything vastly different with my preschooler now and my preschooler 16 years ago.

    I think most everyone what is best for them. For some, it is right to struggle when they are young. For others we struggle when we are older. Very few of us get a cushy life.

  121. Quebec-Charlie says:

    #101: I echo the comments made by z. This imbalance between genders is not just societal, but it exists within the marriage as well. I’m glad my parents both made the sacrifice to finish their educations while they still could, but I very much doubt that any woman who gets married as soon as she possibly can just for the sake of being married will have a good shot at earning her college degree in a decent amount of time. There are exceptions, don’t get me wrong.

    President Hinckley (October Conference 2006) mentioned, “We speak of being ‘equally yoked.’ That applies, I think, to the matter of education.” He was speaking to the men at the time (rightly lamenting the tendency for us men to forgo education in pursuit of Xbox game time), but I believe it is a truth that applies to both genders.

    One of the things that has been hardest for me, ever since graduating from a prestigious university, is finding someone with whom I can honestly be equally yoked mentally and intellectually, as well as spiritually and emotionally. I’m not saying that she has to be a Harvard graduate, but that she cares about education. I want to be yoked with someone who understands and appreciates that the glory of God is intelligence. The only trouble is, that I’ve found them to be in short supply in the places I have lived.

    (Perhaps that’s a sigh I ought to move.)

  122. Wow. Before reading this thread I felt young. I am young! But after reading it… wow. It seems like more than half of you were married when you were younger than I am now (22). And it is certainly true that most of you were married before you graduated from college, and I’ve already passed that particular milestone. In fact, I have a degree, I have a job, I live on my own (and nowhere close to my parents), and I support myself. I’m not really a child, nor do I function as one, but I still feel entirely too much like a child to be married.

    While I don’t think I would run and hide from marriage at this point, I’m relishing my youth and all the perks that come with it (I have had the means and opportunity to do some pretty awesome things).

    Young marriage certainly has its own perks, and I think they’ve all been pretty well outlined in the above comments. I’d certainly like to be married in the next few years, and I hope the opportunity presents itself. However, I’m trying to linger in the doorway between youth and adulthood for as long as possible, and it seems like marriage and all the responsibilities that come with it would slam the door on youth for forever.

  123. “I have had the means and opportunity to do some pretty awesome things”

    Go on….

  124. it’s about the satisfaction of making a professional contribution to the world

    Ha. Ha. Ha.

    Bloggers are unusual people. Maybe you don’t realize quite how unusual we are if you’re still in school or living somehow in a heavily academic or artistic or professional environment. But really, overall, how common do you really think it is for anyone, man or woman, to make “a professional contribution”? Very, very few of us — vanishingly few of us — are able to work successfully at our dream jobs and make “a professional contribution to the world.” The overwhelming majority of people work at laboring or service or manufacturing jobs that are anything but professionally rewarding once the novelty of a steady paycheck wears thin. Even in highly skilled positions — nursing, many of the trades, teaching — where the work has undoubed value to society and may even be personally rewarding — the bulk of workers by definition are in the trenches, not superstars, and the daily job is drudgery, done with an eye toward the end of shift and payday.

    Truly gifted people will generally rise to their natural level, with or without encouragement. But nobody should discourage a young person from marrying by holding out the very unlikely prospect that they have “a professional contribution to make to the world” when mostly they’re going to be laborers and store clerks and low level data entry workers and dental technicians and managers of small and not terribly interesting businesses.

  125. Thomas Parkin says:

    Reading comments, I’m struck that we are mostly lucky or not no matter what age we marry. I married young and it didn’t turn out. But it might have, had we both been different people, and then I’d have been very blessed to have a good companion for so many more years. I married older, thinking that I knew myself oh so much better. This marriage is going to work out, it is differently difficult and differently rewarding, and we are currently having a little mini renaissance … I really still had no idea what I was in for. The largest difference about my being older this time round is that I’ve developed some ability to stick, and that I’m keenly aware how little time I have to make things go.

    Ardis, your comments on ‘professional contribution’ made me snort. Exactly right! Except the part about the gifted finding their level. Gifted people are very often crushed in this world. What is better to have is a fair to middlin intelligence, an unremarkable streak of selfishness, an unreflected on knack for manipulating people, a set of skills that doesn’t include any talent likely to threaten one’s “superiors”, and a slavish devotion to hierarchy. ~

  126. Thomas Parkin says:

    “it seems like marriage and all the responsibilities that come with it would slam the door on youth for forever.”

    I have some friends who are older than 40 still living like they are 17. Ain’t nothin purty bout that. Seems to me you’ve got to embrace every season of life as it comes around. Being married is good because, unless you’re a sociopath, it isn’t good to be alone. It really isn’t. ~

  127. Peter LLC says:

    Nobody should encourage a young person to marry by holding out the very unlikely prospect that they have “a happy and fulfilled future” in front of them when mostly they’re going to be estranged, separated, divorced, in jail and reluctant tenants of a small and not terribly interesting world of mistaken beliefs, unrealistic expectations and shattered dreams.

  128. Don’t we (wrongly?) believe and teach that most sex sins are just short of murder in their evilness?

    No, we rightly teach it as we believe the scriptures to be the Word of God.

  129. Actually john f., scriptures require proper interpretation. The “sex is second only to murder” mantra is based on an incorrect and selective reading of Alma 39, as was recently discussed over at Faith Promoting Rumor.

    Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to consider sexual sin as a serious matter without hyperbolic claims that it practically makes one a murderer. Every action has its context including contributing and mitigating circumstances, which the Lord understands.

    Just because Corianton was reprimanded for major sin by having pursued a prostitute in combination with ignoring his calling and destroying testimonies, it does not mean that every person who has ever slept with their girl/boyfriend (in a variety of circumstances) is guilty of the same degree of error. We help no one by making such outlandish claims.

  130. Oh, scriptures require proper interpretation? Thank you for letting me know that and for generously sharing your insight about sexual sins. Now I know better.

  131. Energy? Define please. At 64, I think I have more than most who are in their 20s. I have money and that’s energy. I can hire or buy what I need. I have time. Time is energy to work on things I need to do. I have wisdom (?). I don’t waste my energy making the mistakes I made in my youth.

  132. Liberal Mormon says:

    Looking back, I am so glad I DIDN’T fall for that stupid diotic breed ‘em young mentality of marrying so young so stupidly. I attended BYWoo only for my last two years of college, getting in as a junior because of all the other brain dead women who married young. On my floor at Deseret Hall, there were four women who had a contest between themselves to see who could be the first to get engaged. It only took the winner ONE MONTH! That was enough to turn me off to marriage for a very long time! I’m very thankful I was on my own and had a career before I married in my 30s!

  133. And yet again Peter LLC has nothing to add to the conversation except mockery of my contribution. Get a life, man.

  134. Pedro Olavarria says:

    Proverbs 5:18-19
    18) Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.
    19) Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her alove.

  135. Peter LLC says:

    Oh, I need to get a life? Thank you for letting me know that and for generously sharing your insight. Now I know better.

  136. Peter LLC says:

    There, Ardis. I mocked john f.’s contribution too. Happy?

  137. J. Nelson-Seawright says:

    Ardis, I think your comment was useful. For what it’s worth, I also think that marriage shouldn’t really necessarily be seen as incompatible with making a professional contribution, for those who are fortunate enough to have the chance to make one. I got married after my first year in graduate school, and my wife is in graduate school now. It would have been financially easier for me to be single, probably, and Taryn certainly has more time pressures than she would have had as a single person. But we’re both keeping our shoulders to the wheel. We had a wonderful time on a research trip to South America this summer with our 1 1/2-year-old as company. People shouldn’t necessarily not go through with such things because they’re married, and I’m happy that we got married young rather than waiting.

  138. Liberal Mormon (#132)
    !?
    I think the point of some of these posts (mine included) is to say that, while we married young, it was not necessarily stupid. To categorize all young marriages as such and all young married women as “brain dead” is more than a little ridiculous, no?

  139. Steve Evans says:

    I am trying to come up with some way of mocking Ardis, John F., and Peter LLC all at the same time. Alas, I have failed.

  140. Antonio Parr says:

    Steve:
    Re: No 139

    Your post managed to meet its objective, and with subtlety!

    Practice makes perfect . . .

  141. Antonio Parr says:

    (My prior post should have had one of those smiley face emoticons, to evidence good will.)

  142. Peter LLC says:

    Steve,

    Try blocking our IPs which will force us to watch the drama unfold without being able to comment. That oughta do the trick.

  143. Steve Evans says:

    Peter, now testing out your method on Antonio.

  144. Antonio Parr says:

    Job 21: 3

    Suffer me that I may speak; and after that I have spoken, mock on.

    (Back to the safe haven of lurkdom . . . )

  145. Though we have plenty of very young brides, I do need to come to the defense of BYU women. MOST of my female students have goals which are equal to their male counterparts’. Granted, some will delay their goals if they marry and begin a family, but I see extremely bright, thoughtful women in my classes and resent the implication that they’re all after a husband and nothing else. My own daughter did marry young, but then finished her degree and is waiting for her youngest (just turned one on Aug. 20) to be old enough for her to pursue her MA in music at IU. She is an avid reader, too.

  146. J. Nelson-Seawright says:

    Margaret, right! If change is needed in how we talk about these things, it’s probably in the discourse that regards marriage as something that excludes other kinds of social contribution.

  147. I got married young, so I could get grandchildren sooner.

  148. Peter LLC (#136),

    Your comment made ME happy. So happy I laughed out loud and came out of lurkerdom to comment.

  149. I married my wife at 30 (she at 28), both of us already established professionally. We had a honeymoon baby, but we were totally ready for her financially. Right now, I stay at home with our daughter, take her around Manhattan to playgrounds, to gymnastics, and soon to art and music classes. We probably could not do this for our daughter if we had married younger when we were still finishing college.

    Families of course come out just fine whether the parents are 20 or 30. There is not a one fit for everyone.

  150. #130: john f

    Scriptures certainly do need interpretation. Even someone as regarded as Bruce R McConkie interpreted our scriptures in ways that were so out there, the church leaders forced him to make many, many changes in his book.

  151. Thomas Parkin says:

    Some say the end is near. Some say we’ll see Armageddon soon. Certainly hope we will. I sure could use a vacation from this bull#@&%, 3-ring circus sideshow …

    My feelings might change if someone would only validate MY life choices, for once. Other things you might validate include my panache, my sexual magnetism, my innate leadership skills, my angelic ability to deal comfort to the afflicted and my dexterity with power tools.

    Otherwise, you know, I’m edging ever closer to writing manifestos. ~

  152. Researcher says:

    Oh my. Looks like summer’s over! You know things are back to normal on the bloggernacle when a random thread like a post by Kevin Barney on getting married during the college years results in Mormon Doctrine bashing. (It did take 150 comments, however!)

  153. aloysiusmiller says:

    Behold the bloggernacle!

  154. see, Aloysius is not me.

  155. Thomas Parkin says:

    Researcher,

    You’re clearly a racist.

    Aloysius,

    I, for one, am secretly on your side. ~

  156. Cynthia L says:

    How is it possible that nobody has yet commented on Pedro Olavarria’s contribution??

  157. In all honesty I’m really beginning to feel like I dodged a bullet. I met a girl in my senior year in high school and, although it was a long-distance relationship, we dated for several years, all the way through my college tenure, and finally got engaged last May. A recent event showed me that she was never seriously about committing to the standards of the gospel and so I broke it off. She’s since further gone downhill.

    My only regret over the whole issue was not realizing it sooner.

  158. Mike Ricky says:

    I haven’t read all of the comments (not even close), but I wanted to make an observation that might not be made otherwise.

    I am currently in law school in the east, and I would estimate that only about 10% of my peers are married. However, this is not a full picture. I have been surprised by the high percentage that are in long term relationships (often with people they met in undergrad). For example, out of my co-interns this summer, approximately 75% were in long term relationships (~30 of 40). I’m not sure what conclusions to draw from this, but just because people are getting married later doesn’t mean they still aren’t deciding on a partner at a younger age.

  159. Mike Ricky,

    Cohabitation is the new marriage. You get the sex, but you are not legally tied down and can get easily out of the situation if it turns really sour. Of course, it still ends up being worse off for the women because if they get pregnant, they are stuck with the child.

  160. I think #118 makes an excellent point. I was once skeptical of young marriage. I got married at what I felt was a perfect age-23. But meeting my husband gave me a realization; what if I had met him when I was 19? What would I have done? Said, “You know I know you’re the one, but I’m too young to get married so let’s date for 4 years and then get hitched?” While hormones are not the only factor that drives us to get married, 4 years of holding hands and making out would be a liiiitle bit difficult. When you meet the one, you meet the one, and we don’t really have control over that.

  161. re # 150, does someone actually think that I don’t think that scriptures require interpretation? Interesting.

  162. Liberal Mormon says:

    Karen:
    If marrying young is good for someone, fine. But for me, I’ve seen that’s the exception, not the rule. I saw too much Mormon poverty while in Provo, especially on the south side, when I went to school, and it made me not want to marry for a long time.

  163. J. Nelson-Seawright says:

    I grew up in a poor Mormon family, and I don’t regret it.

  164. Peter LLC says:

    AMF (148): thanks for the props.

    Mike Ricky (158): just because people are getting married later doesn’t mean they still aren’t deciding on a partner at a younger age.

    A good friend of mine from high school ended up marrying his high school girlfriend after a good tens years of a steady relationship, so from my limited experience I’d say you’re on to something.

    john f. (161): Forgive them, for they know not what they do.

  165. Cynthia, many have attempted, but they’re all caught in the filter.

  166. Peter LLC says:

    I grew up in a poor Mormon family, and I don’t regret it.

    Welcome to Paradise!

  167. My mission companion from Paradise had nothing negative to say about it.

  168. I think it’s funny when people get offended when someone says that Mormons get married for sex. What else do you get married for? Pell Grants? Of course I married my husband for love and for the wonderful person he was, but if we didn’t have the law of chastity, we would have lived together for a few years to see if we were as compatible as we thought we were.

    I got married at 19 and sometimes think that it would have been nice to have a few more years out on my own before I had the responsibilities of being a wife and mother (at 22). But I never let those responsibilities get in the way of what I wanted to do and be. It frustrates me that so many young wives decide to “put their husbands through school” and delay their own educations, often indefinitely. My husband and I were each responsible for funding our own educations and worked our tails off. I got my second degree when I was a mom to a toddler and pregnant with my second. I hate how they put up these “barriers” that can be overcome. I know it isn’t like that for everyone, but all of my sisters in law who quit school didn’t have to and are now regretting it because they feel like it would be too hard to go back. That’s the only thing that really bothers me about young marriages. Otherwise, “young love = long love.”

  169. The Other Bro Jones says:

    I have only read comments up to #50…
    I live in a biug Navy/Marine town. I see lots of soldiers and sailor’s who llok like they marry young and come home from a deployment to meet their 4 month old kid fo rthe first time.

    Are there any vets out there who can comment on this? What are the pressures in the military to get married?

  170. (169) Army Officer here.

    The pressure to get married is unbelievably intense, especially for those newly commissioned or newly out of basic training. You have up to four different schools before you reach your first duty station, then deployment, then months in the back woods training for everything. Most of my Mormon friends in my commissioning class felt that if they didn’t get married before graduation, it might be several years before they got settled down enough in one place long enough to start dating again. Two of them got married a week after graduation.

    Besides the pressures from inside the church, singledom is hardest on the more senior officers. In the Army, once you reach Captain, you are more or less expected to be married. I don’t know if the pressure is the same for enlisted guys, though. I think the culture gives them more leeway to drink hard, party hard, and generally avoid marriage.

    Being the only single guy in a ward full of young military families and lots of newborns is depressing – I know that from experience.

  171. i’m writing you this post from the library at byu-idaho. pre-marrital sexuality is never a good thing, it degrades the soul. and i have to say that mormonism is a changing thing even though Church leaders try to keep everyone calm.

  172. Stephanie says:

    Re 169 – My sister just got married (for the second time) at age 26 to an officer in the military. This is his third marriage (he’s 40). Anyways, he is leaving for Afghanistan next month, and she is trying to get pregnant before he leaves. I was honestly surprised when I found out.

  173. I think that avoiding the draft affected the age of marriage somewhat.

    What else do you get married for? Pell Grants?

    I had not thought of that.

    Note that people who live together before marriage to test compatibility are more likely to get divorced, not less likely.

  174. “Note that people who live together before marriage to test compatibility are more likely to get divorced, not less likely.”

    And that’s why it’s good we had the law of chastity. :)

  175. People get married for a lot of things other than sex: health insurance jumps to mind, as does immigration status, public legitimacy, satisfying familial or religious pressure, economic dependence– all kinds of reasons. Sex ain’t the half of it.

  176. Umm… Pell Grants are for single people too, and in fact, we were denied Pell Grants this year because we made too much money supposedly (my wife is a Provo School District teacher, anyone else get the inside joke?)!

    Anyhow… What?

  177. I just turned 30 am not married and by the sounds of things I’m due for a massive energy drop off and I can expect to eat my future kids dust just trying to keep up with them. Is 30 really that much different from 20 health wise? ‘Cause it don’t feel like it.

  178. @loren

    30 is a hard number for 3-year-olds to count to.

  179. I got married for sex and it was a great decision.

  180. Loren in answer to your question, no. As someone who had a baby at 26,30,35,37, and adopted at 45. There is not a big difference. In my advanced decrepit state, I find I have more patience and wisdom.

  181. @E

    Touché!

  182. loren
    I was one of the ones saying that 20 is different than 30, but as was mentioned by someone (somewhere in this thread), I’m probably just more tired now because I have the others kids. Not so much the age thing.

  183. My mission president, in my last interview with him, talked to me about marriage. No pressure. He’s now a member of the Seventy.

  184. Left Field says:

    I’ve found that the key to a successful marriage is to marry someone whose first husband was a complete idiot.

    In my final interview, my mission president told me not to touch my date’s breasts. He’d have probably been better to give me the opposite advice. I never dated at all in high school. I think I went on one date as a BYU undergraduate, and that was after my mission. In seven years and two degrees at BYU while attending a singles ward in my hometown, I estimate I went on not much more than a dozen dates with a total of three women. All but about three dates were with the same person (who by the way, is the sister of a previous commenter).

    I dated a bit more after I left BYU, but it was never something I particularly enjoyed. I usually had a fine time with a very enjoyable person, but I just really despised the process. I had to really like the person for me to consider going through the ordeal of dating.

    I guess the desire for sex was a motivating factor, but it obviously didn’t motivate me to marry young.

  185. Left Field, that strategy works well for me too.

  186. Eric Russell says:

    I see that lots of people have opinions when it comes to marriage. But what about early marriages that lead graduate students to go on welfare, does anybody have an opinion on that?

  187. Eric, don’t even get me started!

  188. Peter LLC says:

    But what about early marriages that lead graduate students to go on welfare, does anybody have an opinion on that?

    Hmm, you know, I think some do…

  189. Peter LLC says:

    My mission companion from Paradise had nothing negative to say about it.

    Surely because he spent time at the Front?

  190. Thomas Parkin says:

    “but what about early marriages that lead graduate students to go on welfare, does anybody have an opinion on that?”

    I have a very strong opinion.
    My opinion is that it is none of my business. ~

  191. Earlyschmearly says:

    For fun, I sometimes read a discussion board for young married LDS wives and mothers. The conversations are often entertaining, but, truthfully, pathetically so.

    These women, barely out of their adolescence (some still in their teens) exhibit an appalling dearth of life skills beyond playing house with their too-young husbands and what they glean from women in their wards. They seem to have no sense of urbanity; their lives seem limited and unfulfilled. Sometimes they speak of their husbands’ jobs or eventual careers as too intellectually superior for them to grasp, and how much closer they feel to their uneducated children because of it. Their forays into political discourse or understanding of current events is downright embarrassing.

    This site might not be typical of the writings of high-school educated early-married LDS women, but it “sure makes me greatful” that I am not numbered among them.

  192. Why does everyone attack the intelligence of young married women and leave the men out of it? I, personally, like to keep my husband in subordination, not the other way around. It’s veiled sexism if you ask me.

  193. @Karen

    Word up. I still don’t know how to budget our income. Go Pam!

  194. #191 I also find it fun to massage my ego, although I don’t think it’s the ideal display of maturity, intellectuality, or urbanity.

  195. I was raised in the Church on the idea of marriage, kids, while going to school, job, calling all the while. Heavy pressure to marry young from MP, SP and YSA Bishop who said that “Satan wants to break up couples” so if you follow the logic if you do break up you are following Satan and you don’t want to do that so you stupidly stay together. While he was the bishop there were about 20 or so marriages in our small YSA ward, 3 marriages divorced and one couple is completely inactive. I married young when I had no money, except student loans,trying to get a life built, she wasn’t educated then but got educated later. We divorced for among other reasons she quit the church. So I look back now and what do I have? student loans, no career, a son who I can’t afford to support, and I am divorced. My sister and her husband, both went to school and got their careers going, then married, paid off their loans and then had their two kids and neither are 30 yet. I felt duped and completely ripped off and its a struggle to stay active. I wish I hadnt listen to bad advice from certain of the brethren, my Stake President and my Mission President.

  196. #191: You’re making that up. Yes, it is obvious.

  197. aloysiusmiller says:

    191 Do you mean Facebook? It is sad isn’t it? We’re so much better than that here.

  198. I’m going to agree with Karen. #191 was the worst but plenty of other comments have mentioned the dumbness of the brides and conveniently left out the comparatively dumb grooms (who, in theory, did the asking in the first place). That sort of thing isn’t veiled sexism, it’s sexism.

  199. I married relatively late (27, and my wife was 26). I would have happily married at 24, if the girl I was dating had agreed to it. But the next three years allowed me to develop socially and emotionally, and I’m not sure that growth would have been possible had I been married.
    I have many friends, male and female, in their late 20s and early 30s, who are still single. They aren’t putting off marriage for selfish reasons–they simply haven’t found a partner that’s compatible. They’re not slackers (one of them is EQ President for the second time now, others are RS Presidents, etc.) And their prove their devotion to the gospel by remaining active and faithful even without a spouse.
    As far as marrying for sex–it certainly seems that the roommates/missionary companions I had that were most obsessed with sex were also some of the first ones married. It’s definitely a factor (although I’m sure not the only one, and maybe not even the main one).

  200. “their” should be “they.”
    An alternative theory for explaining why some men marry young and some don’t:
    Marriage age among my friends is directly correlated with cooking skills. Those who couldn’t cook got married much earlier than those who could. Food may be more important than sex…

  201. amen to Tim about those who are single and remain strong/faithful,etc..like some others said,I also found this thread a little depressing, ie I am 40, single, no kids,etc My hope had been to have 3 kids by age 25, I was going to adopt a child w/Down Syndrome,etc.
    But you know what..and you really do know this…getting married young or older or having kids young or older, is really not always up to us. It is a miracle to find that one to love and be loved by..

    We can go online to shop for material items and be specific..but in real life, we cannot “choose” and place an order w/Heavenly Father as to when and what age we will marry or have a child….even though sometimes we feel like reminding Him,etc that we have been “waiting” for our “hope” or whatever for years..

    Finally at a singles conf I attended last year, during a panel discussion related to singles/concerns, a very wise remark was said about those who are single. I’d anonymously asked what the thought was about those who are told the “reasons” for their singleness (ie I’ve been told I’m picky and that it is my fault)..the former GA who was at this conf panel said something such as no one but Heavenly Father should ever suppose to know the reasons why one is single and that “well-maning members” should not so speculate on the reasons why one is single.

  202. The “right age” is very personal, and depends upon finding the right person. Which takes longer for some than for others.

    I found the right person at age 29 and after a short time of dating and engagement we got married. No doubts that it was best for me to wait. My brother and sister both met somebody perfect for them during their freshman year of college, and both were married before graduating. That was the best thing for both of them.

  203. MarkinPNW says:

    Yup, Left Field (184)and Steve G (185), that worked for me!

    Duncan (195) reminds me of the scripture somewhere in the D&C that says that we are obligated to obey the counsel or commandments of men ONLY if it is given by the Holy Ghost (my wife and I have both suffered our share of troubles when we have forgotten that scripture!).

  204. Liberal Mormon says:

    #195: You hit the nail on the head. I got married later in life and have no regrets about waiting so long to get married later than most members

  205. It makes me sad to read many of these responses. While it is funny to make jokes about marrying young, what makes me so sad is that this topic is being discussed completely without the spirit. How can we suppose to decide what the Prophet and Apostles should teach regarding marriage? What makes any of us qualified to decide that as a whole Mormons marry too young and should be encouraged to wait longer?
    What I know is that the Prophet is the spokesman for God. God knows what is best and can foresee what is best for His children far better than any of us. When the Prophet speaks we should listen, and when he says something that makes us bristle, then we need to look at our hearts and not his to see where we need to make changes. I think that young couples who go through the trials of life together gain wonderful and priceless experiences that they could not gain otherwise. It would certainly be easier for us to each be wealthy and to be able to afford whatever we please. Likewise, it would certainly be easier to go through this life without any trials. But what would we become? Trials, especially trials that we go through with a spouse, make us become stronger, better people and draw us closer to our Heavenly Father if we are humble. Heavenly Father loves us and wants us to become better, to become like Him. He gives us experiences in this life to see if we will choose to be on His side. That is what matters.

  206. I’ve read a number of tragic tales and sob stories… I don’t doubt the pain and frustration, but I do question whether there were other contributing factors in the failed marriages stories. I don’t think money or security are the recipie for a happy marriage. I am glad I married when and who I did. We went through law school together (with children). And we love to look back as our lives and means have taken shape. Marriage is wonderful if both partners keep the commandments and love one another.

  207. In my case there were other contributing factors like not dating while I was young because dating leads to sexual encounters and you have to fly higher then the trees so as to not have any cause to hit them or whatever Elder Rector was mentioning. So I never dated because physical encounters was bad so I had no real experience with women or how a relationship worked. So I had to learn the hard way. So I sometimes wish I would have remained single and never married and had my son with someone else who I would have dated longer and found out they really didn’t have a testimony and was just looking for a relationship and I just happened to fill the spot.

    Last month I went to the Temple and asked the Lord to take away all the anger, resentment and bitterness so its coming along I hope!

  208. sorry I would like to date someone longer and find out they have a testimony!

  209. Dating –> Sexual encounters with trees.

    Is that right?

  210. Scott B. yes thats right or at least as Elder Rector saw it!

    http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?hideNav=1&locale=0&sourceId=e2da66ce3a47b010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD

    here is Elder Ballard’s Oct. 1990 GC talk. I think the implication is the further you stay away from something the less chance you have of encountering it, so staying away from any sexual encounters means staying away from girls and then you don’t have any relationship experience as a result. Elder Rector was saying the same thing if you fly higher then the trees you won’t run the risk of running into them!

  211. Millions of Peaches says:

    Well, obviously I did not have time to read all of the comments so maybe someone mentioned this already. I think one of the biggest problems with kids in the LDS church and in the world in general is they are not challenged to grow up and therefore never really learn what kind of a person they are. Just look at highschool kids anyone can get an A now there is no real achievment, everyone is a winner these days and no one a loser. Then when they go to college who pays for it mom and dad, some college students are never even have a job while going to school.
    Then there is the LDS component, teenagers spend all their time at church functions rather than pursuing personal jobs, interests or hobbies. After that they go on a two year mission where everything is dedicated to other people and then they come home and are expected to marry early. They have not provided for themselves before, do not know what it is like to fail and pull themselves up again, and have not had time to really discern whether they even have a testimony with all the social noise and expectations around them. Then we wonder why they freak out and go inactive, I have seen too many people (including mission companions) my own age do this. Kids growing up need more time to learn about themselves and accept responsibility. I believe thats the real issue not the superficial age attached with responsibility. Give a person time to decide, there should not be pressure for or against just an effort on everyones part to teach the kid how to be an adult, which is more than just obeying the comandments.

  212. I met my wife right after I got back from my mission. At the time I had never taken a class at the university level. I was married at age 21. At 23 I was already raising twin boys. I am now 25, and I am in my second year of law school. I feel that I am right in the middle of what many people are referring to as “hard times,” however I feel just fine. My marriage seems to be very strong, and I have been able to meet all of the challenges that have come my way. I have paid for school with no support from my parents up to this point as my family’s point of view was that I was on my own when I got married. Frankly, I feel that an argument or a suggestion that would assert that people should be married at an older age is an argument that we should live a lower standard. Life isn’t easy, it isn’t supposed to be. The joys in life are getting through the hard times together. Why would we encourage the youth of the church to wait to be married? How is that helpful to them? From my point of view, I have gained much more useful experience as a young husband and father battling to get through school than I would have as a single student. I can remember being in a D&C class talking about eternal marriage at BYU and hearing literally 80% of the students argue against the suggestion that marriage was an important goal for us.

    The problem with our society today is that we are lazy, and we want to take the easiest way. The Lord’s way has never been the easiest way. Sure, we should not place undue pressure on young people to get married, but we should be ashamed to encourage them to not be married so that life will be “easier.” Maybe its just me, but I see no reason whatsoever that two people who love each other and are willing to take on the challenges of marriage should not be married at a young age.

    In regards to the opinion that the church is imposing a doctrine of abstinence that is not natural or good, I would remind you that this is not something that current church leaders have cooked up in their minds to impose obedience. This is a principle embedded in Christianity taught by God. Modern teaching and Book of Mormon teachings aside, we need only look to Paul in the Bible who taught that we need to be guided by our spirit and not by our carnal desires. It is true that as a young person, and as a man, I have certain carnal desires that are natural in every human being. However, it is not wrong or evil for me to learn to control those desires and to govern myself. On the contrary, it is correct, and consistent with modern and historic Christian teachings; it is consistent with God’s desires for me.

    Speaking from the exact position that many are now criticizing, I would suggest that you rethink your position if you are advocating the idea that young people in the church should wait and be married. If you are an inactive member of the church who opposes church leaders when they suggest the importance of marriage, I invite you to repent. If you are a young person considering marriage, don’t let anyone tell you that it can’t be done. It can; I know. As you live correctly, you will be blessed to overcome even the largest challenges that would confront your marriage.

  213. I think the implication is the further you stay away from something the less chance you have of encountering it, so staying away from any sexual encounters means staying away from girls and then you don’t have any relationship experience as a result.

    That is certainly one way of understanding the story. It’s not mine, but to each their own!

  214. Some people who married young have a strange understanding of what it’s like to be a little bit older and single.
    It’s not all peaches and creams. I’ve been married two years, and even with a baby now, life is better (and in many ways easier) than being single.
    If I move somewhere, I move there with my best friend. If I need emotional support, I go to my best friend, who’s always there. I don’t have to worry about getting strange roommates. No more pressure from others to get married (and now no more pressure for grandkids, although that might change if we don’t have another kid within the next two years or so).
    And abstinence until your late 20s or later is no easy feat either.
    Most faithful single LDS adults I know would love to get married, as long as its to a good match.

  215. Jon #212,

    I don’t have a problem with people getting married and having kids at an early age. I do have a problem when they seem to think they are “living correctly,” with the implication that the rest of us aren’t.

  216. 211. Millions of Peaches – yes and no to your post!

    I highly disagree that youth in the church aren’t challenged enough. I can see that in the world, yes, but the youth of the church are much different. There’s always exceptions though of course, which I’ve seen, but LDS youth are very strong, amazing people, although there is still so much for them to learn. But as for getting A’s in high school? No way is it all that easy. Some classes yes. But I saw plenty of people who failed, who complained, who couldn’t even do the simplest assignments even as seniors in high school. Yet many students – LDS and non-LDS – still do push themselves. The number of kids in honors and AP courses continue to increase – especially at my old high school. And believe me, getting A’s in those classes are much harder than you think! I don’t think you can generalize so much about how teenagers are. I’ve seen a wide range of them, and maybe I don’t know a lot, not being a parent, but I grew up in a predominantly non-lds area. While I didn’t have many good friends among them, they weren’t all a lazy bunch expecting free A’s and money from their parents. For myself, I have always been very self-motivated for education. My parents never expected all A’s but I worked for as many as possible because I myself wanted it. Homework was my responsibility and I didn’t expect my parents to hound me about it. As for paying for college? Yes, I’m sure for many it is Mom and Dad footing the bill. But I just graduated this year and am almost 19 and the many of the lds youth I graduated with either in my ward, stake, or elsewhere, have received a large number of scholarships because we’ve worked hard. And for what scholarships don’t cover – which is a LOT! – most of it is coming out of what I’ve earned working at a grocery store and teaching piano. My parents are chipping in what they can for me and my brother but it hardly covers everything. And I’m still hoping for more scholarships in the future. Also, LDS teenagers hardly spend all their time at church functions. They’re in sports, music, drama, and yes working! Although I’ve seen a few on the opposite end, where they work and don’t go to church instead, or not very often. But I was always fairly balanced and VERY involved in as much as possible! The store I worked at was closed on Sundays and my boss was always flexible to let me off for church or other activities.

    I do think there is pressure to get married early but I do realize I’m not ready for a number of reasons. I’m totally unprepared for motherhood, I want to finish and enjoy my education and being on my own, and I’ve never been in any sort of relationship before. I know someone younger than me who is engaged; it’s not for me but I’ll support her if they both feel it is the right thing to do.

    All I can say is give us youth a little more credit in some areas! I know some pretty incredible people who are still youth, my age, and young adult RM-age. We may be inexperienced, immature, but I don’t think that makes all of us dumb. It’s not our fault and I’d say most of us are loving the time we’re at where we are learning and meeting people and exploring the people we want to be.

    One last thing – my parents are both converts and got married in the temple at ages 23 and 22. They’re extremely strong in the church and had two kids two and five years after they got married. And they were lucky because they had trials to even get us and afterwards, various other health issues that could’ve prevented them from having us if they’d decided to wait. But I know there is no one fit for all Mormon or not. I have four cousins married, none are Mormon, all high school sweethearts, and three with children. Who can say what is right or wrong? We make our own choices and it isn’t our right to judge others.

  217. I apologize that being so long! It just kinda bugged me.

  218. #215

    I agree with you. I have many friends who are living great lives years after their missions who have not yet been married. I am not making the point that someone not married in their 20′s is not living correctly. I am making the point that people condemning those who do get married at a relatively young age are speaking against church teachings. I have never heard a church authority say that people not married in their 30′s or 40′s are living wrong. I don’t believe that at all. I don’t think that encouraging marriage for young people carries an implied message that if you are not married young you are living incorrectly. Some may believe that, but I would suggest to them they need to rethink their position just as much as someone who thinks marriage in your early 20′s is wrong. If you are older and not married, you can live just as good of a life as if you are not. My only concern is that in a world where so many voices discourage marriage, we have voices in the church doing the same thing. We don’t need that.

  219. Millions of Peaches says:

    JB
    First of all I am a kid, probably your same age, and in response to your statement I would just like to say compared to what my parents went through and people of older generations, ours has it easy. First of all they do give out A’s there is a reason that just about everyone graduates from highschool who tries but then drops out in their FIRST year of college. Think about this, how many of your highschool classes were graded on a curve? Second good for you, you worked most kids dont, at least not the ones I know. In my post I was not talking about you but the majority, the majority of kids dont get scholarships, its a reward for those who are extraordinary. I do agree that there are extraordinary LDS youth. However the biggest problem I see is kids have no concept of the future or how to manage things like money, emotions, or they dont even know how to manage themselves. Yet the leaders are still telling these kids they should get married even though they lack that responsibility. You sound like someone who has their head on straight, realize that if you have a scholarship you probably have a better ability to reason and understand those principals I was talking about. Therefore you do not qualify as the group I was talking about in my first post.

    The last thing I wanted to say which should demonstrate my point fairly clearly is this. Do you know what the number one cause for problems in marital relations is? Finances, now lets take a look at the mormon capital of the world, Utah, oh yeah thats right it ranks like 2nd or 3rd in number of bankrupcies. Hmmmm… so people have problems with money in Utah and Utah is like 60% mormon. (Please dont tell me its all of the non-mormons, I took a family financial class and I know that is not the case) Now being able to manage money is a huge indicator of responsibility, which is what my first post was all about. So by looking at that statistic I would say Utahns have a problem with being responsible with money among other things. I can tell you right now those bad money habits were developed because they were probably not like you and they did not have to earn money or scholarships to go to school. So they go off and get married without the neccessary life lessons on responsibility and then wow life sucks and they have to learn how to make their marrige work. I hate that phrase I am married and let me tell you it works on its own. So that is what I was reffering to, you shouldnt take it as personal attack. We need to make a judgement if things are going to get better, not a personal attack, but a realization of how things can improve. I look around and my opinion is kids have everything they want when they want it. Ask yourself this have your parents ever given you a car, money for school, how much money do they spend on you when it comes to gifts etc. Kids now days truly have more noise and “things to do” in the form of sports, piano, hobbies, etc. But personal responsiblity? not much, when the going gets tough someone steps in and saves them, mommy, daddy, grandma, take your pick. Not only that they are pressured to be the star quarterback, excel in Piano, Memorize the scriptures, get good grades and what not so then they never have time to evaluate themselves and learn who they are. There was a study put out that talked about how a kids free time has dropped like crazy and not only that but the free time they do have is spent watching Hannah Montana so then they can have another responsiblity “in their minds to live up to”. So if a kid understands the concept of personal responsiblity then go ahead and get married you have my blessing, I dont care if your 17. However if your 29 and you dont have direction and spend all your time playing world of warcraft and are in debt. Please do everyone a favor and make something of yourself before you get married.

    Plus for the record I took 3 AP classes, several concurrent enrollment classes, participated in athletics (which I had to pay for) so I know about all of that stuff. And like I said earlier that would make me unormal even for an LDS kid.

  220. Steve Evans says:

    Millions of Peaches, you’d probably be more convincing as a young genius if your comment wasn’t replete with spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, and fictional words (unormal?!).

    Actually, I have no idea what your point was. Care to give it another go?

  221. I don’t think getting married in your early 20s is early at all. I was ready, and I’m glad I got married then. My life has been so much better because I’m married and have children. I can’t fathom it otherwise.

    I don’t think it’s related to hormones, sex, or any of that. Good grief. If we are dictated by our hormones, then you’re saying we’re little more than animals. We’re a LOT more than that. Sheesh! (And yes, I had plenty of hormones and had a very fun honeymoon. But I also didn’t let my hormones dictate my actions or reasons for marriage).

    I think the real reason to encourage marriage in the early 20s IF THEY FIND A COMPATIBLE MATE is so they grow up. Nothing focuses you in your studies and profession like starting a family. And nothing makes you feel like moving back home when the going gets rough than not being tied to a family of your own. I don’t think it’s a problem at all to ask early 20-somethings to grow up and get on with their (married and family) lives. As long as they have found a compatible mate, of course. I don’t believe in marrying just for marriage if you aren’t compatible and in love.

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