Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Love Lounge: How old were you when you got married? Did you feel any pressure to tie the knot?

It's sort of an odd coincidence: Most everyone in my mom's family (her mom, her sisters...) got married when they were 22. And although I haven't given much thought to is the age I'd like to be when I tie that knot, I did find myself going though a bit of self-doubt when I turned 22.

Then, when my best friend got married a few years ago, I found myself bringing out the old metaphorical yardstick yet again. It's not that I actually wanted to get married right then; I just wondered if I should be. With so many of my peers marrying in their mid- and late-20s, the whole subject of marriage was hard to ignore.

"The peer pressure to marry doesn’t necessarily suggest a problem with marriage itself, but a lack of other cultural models," says psychologist Lyla Cicero. "This results in a lot of people choosing marital and family structures by default rather than by intention -- a kind of compulsory monogamy."
And, as it turns out, the mid-20s is the perfect time to get married, at least according to new research. Having higher education, financial security and a firm sense of your goals and values in your mid-20s make for a perfect marriage recipe -- and lower the chances of going down the divorce path.

But honestly? I don't want to get married until I'm ready, not when my peers or society think I should be ready. I think a lot of women -- and men -- feel this way too. Marriage, at the core, is such an individual thing. It can't be placed on some sort of arbitrary time table, full of neat little boxes of steps to check off. It's something you have to feel in your heart instead of calculate in your head.

So, I'm curious, friends: Are you married? How old were you when you got married? Did you feel any of that peer pressure? Would you do things differently now if you had the chance? If you're not married, do you envision yourself being married by a certain age? xoxo

[Photos by superbomba and Rachel Thurston]


  1. I was 21 when I got married and while we are still a few months away from having been married for a year it was by far the best decision I have ever made, and will likely ever make. Life is hard since we are both still in school and getting ready for the long road of medical school (for my husband), but the friendship and partnership are worth the top ramen, run down apartments and all of the additional things it takes to be married, vs. being single or dating.
    Of course, and this is the most important thing, it wouldn't be worth it is he wasn't the right person for me, and someone who would help me grow into the person I someday hope to be.
    I will say though that our religious culture plays into our marriage decision, most definitely, but culture plays into martial decisions for everyone. That's how we set expectations for ourselves.

  2. Many of my friends and my cousins were married in their 20's. I am the oldest of 7 siblings and I even had three siblings get married before I did. I was 35. I had been married for less than a year when I was diagnosed with a health issue. As a result of the health issue we do not have children and I have had a hard time getting a job because of certain limitations. But I do keep busy.
    I met my husband just after my 30th birthday and he was 31. We dated for 4 yrs and then he asked me to marry him on Valentine's Day and we got married that following November. We both got married for the first time (and hopefully the last time) to each other.

  3. My sweetheart and I recently got engaged after 6 years together–when I think about his friends in Texas, most of whom are already married with kids, I feel like I'm slacking, but I'm one of the first girls of my high school class to get engaged! I think those cultural norms are so difficult to shake, but I just keep reminding myself that it's a good thing (for us, and us only) that we're not already having babies and living in Texas–we've got other stuff going on right now!

  4. I got married at twenty. Waiting would have been a joke- I mean, if you order your most favorite piece of cake, you don't let it sit in front of you for hours before devouring it. Lightness aside, we did take everything very seriously and made sure ALL of our goals were the same.
    Contrary to stereotypes, I got married and then went to college and got my degree. I couldn't have done it without him.

  5. I got married this year, at 29. I actually though I would be married in my early 20's (at least when I was a teenager), but it didn't happen, obviously! I am glad too, because I met my husband at 27, and he is perfect! Well worth the wait.

  6. I'm 19 and engaged now. I'm getting married in January - I'll be 20 and he'll be 21. I love the comment from Dancing Branflake. We both know exactly who we are and what we want in life...and honestly, if you know then you know, whatever age you are.

  7. I was engaged at 23 and married at 25 and it was more then right for me. In contrast to my friends most of them aren't married - those of them who are in relationships are more likely to have children then to have got married. I think to some these days especially those of us who are in their mid twenties married isn't seen as adding much, just a "piece of paper". Although for us it's provided that legal security with me moving to the states.

  8. Really interesting post!
    In the culture which my family exists and the Christian values it's kind of expected that you marry pretty young and start a family. Once you've hit your 30's then people start to wonder whether it'll ever happen for you.
    I know that onceI started university, there were real expectations that I would fall in love almost immediately with a good Christian boy and that would be that. The constant questioning I get from my parents about whether I have I boyfriend yet obviously does show their expectations.

    I don't think that my parents would be disappointed as such or anything if I didn't get married young, or find a boyfriend. But that's defintiely the expectations of the world I'm living in.

    Love, Elizabeth xx


  9. My husband and I got married quietly at 26. We were both in grad school and had full time careers so couldn't have really handled an extravagant wedding and didn't want to look back on it as something stressful. I never thought I would be married this young- my family isn't religious (even the grandparents)so there was never any pressure there. My husband and I had been together for several years and just knew it was right for us... I've never held the view that our marriage was the beginning of our life together- as far as I'm concerned our life together began the night we met.

  10. Interesting that you say marriage is an individual thing.

  11. 27 and unmarried. My boyfriend is 31. I'd like to get married before I am 30!

    Not so much with getting married, but my parents MET when they were 19 - married at 24 - so when my sister and I both turned 20 respectively, and still no boyfriend, it was like "Ugh, we are behind!" Different times, though.

  12. I think you should probably focus on having your first date before you spend too much energy thinking about marriage.

  13. It's ironic that you wrote this today, I just wrote an entry on celebrating a 4 year anniversary with my boyfriend and how we've been going back and forth with whether or not to exchange vows.

    I've been married and divorced twice. The first time I was 20, very much in love (he was my first everything) and pregnant. Despite true love, I -did not- want to get married. Personally, I felt it wasn't the right time but I did so due to pressure from family members. The second time, I was 28 and he was 26 (tall, dark, handsome with a thick Irish brogue.) I think I wanted the title of "wife" more than the commitment. That, and he was my trophy husband. We never loved each other like we should have, our relationship was more platonic than passionate. We split up for good shortly after I gave birth to our daughter, my second child. We've managed to remain close friends even though he is a big pain in my arse. :)

    This brings me to John. Never have I loved any man as much as I do him. This is the first time in my 43 years that I've honestly, with all my heart-wanted- to honor the commitment of settling down and sharing a life with someone.

    Whether or not we do remains to be seen but I can tell you from experience, don't do it because you want the wedding and don't do it because you feel pressured (regardless of the reason). Do it because you both feel, in your heart and your gut, that this is the person you are meant to be with.

  14. my mom was 24 when her and my dad got married, and i always imagined myself being around that same age when i get married and having kids a few years after that. time has flown by and now i'm nineteen and i dont see myself wanting to be married anytime soon!

  15. I will be 30, which, I think is a good age...but age doesn't mean too much. I've known people who's gotten married in their early20's...and I know people who haven't gotten married until they were in their 40's or even older!

  16. Thanks for all these great stories...i loved reading everyone's thoughts. I do agree that when you know, you know.

    I do agree with Rachael about the changing meaning of marriage these days...it's only seen to some as a piece of paper. That's sort of disappointing to me, though. :(


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