The Rushveldt's got married when Mary was 18 and Clive 23. They have been married for 13 years. I asked them to be honest in their appraisal of their marriage and to what extent their relatively young age had influenced their relationship. Mary stated that it was very difficult at first. "I only realized what it was all about a few months into the marriage. One thing is for sure, the early romantic notions are hard to sustain when one is young and struggling financially with a child on the way." Clive concurred that the first few years of their marriage had been difficult. Both felt that they had got married too young and that life could have been much easier had they waited a few more years; not only in terms of their personal maturity but also to plan for their financial security. However, when asked whether they would do it differently if they had a chance, they both stated that they would not and that in many ways the earlier years, while difficult, had cemented their relationship.
Another couple who also married young, Sue and Chris Doubel, had different views. Sue was divorced from a first marriage mainly because "I was too young and immature to deal with the responsibility of marriage and sharing your life with another person. I didn't even know who I was." This concurs with the psychological assessment that young people have not yet had time to establish their identity. Sue added that she was also influenced by relatives, which also points to a lack of self-identity.
The third couple, the Smith's married at a relatively late age. Beryl was 36 and Brian 40 when they married. While they both agreed that from a financial point-of-view it had been a wise decision they also felt that postponing matrimony created a number of problems. The greatest problem that they encountered was the fact that they had become to some extent set in their ways and found it difficult to deal with the quirks and eccentricities of the other partner. "I found that petty things irked me; (she laughs) the fact that he did not hang up his clothes nearly caused a divorce."
Albeit, more interesting than the differences in their experiences were the areas of consensus. All the couples agreed that age alone was not the problem but age in conjunction with other factors such as maturity, finance, influence of family, and self-identity were crucial factors. They also agreed that whatever the age that one married at, there were always bound to be problems and adjustments that had to be overcome.
The general consensus from the interviews and expert opinion is that marrying too young can be very problematic and ideally one should marry in one's late twenties. One of the central problems experienced by couples who marry at too young an age was lack of life-experience and self-knowledge. It is often difficult to know what to expect from and how to react to the demands of a marriage when one's own ideas and expectations are not yet clear.
In summation, my opinion is that there is no absolutely correct age to get married. However, I also feel that getting married at a very early age can lead to numerous problems. Furthermore, age alone is not sufficient criteria to answer this question. One has to bear in mind a myriad of other issues and influences.
Crittenden, Danielle, and Jennifer L. Pozner. "Q: Is Early Marriage the Best Choice for American Women?." Insight on the News 22 Feb. 1999: 24. Questia. 3 Oct. 2004 .
Fields, Suzanne. "Charting Ways to Preserve Nuclear Family, Starting with What Ails It." The Washington Times 7 Oct. 2001: 8. Questia. 3 Oct. 2004 .
Freely, Maureen. "Mum, Dad, 2.4 Children: What Next? Even the Tories Admit That the Family Is Dead. Yet Work, Schools and the Law Are Still Built around It. Politicians Must Debate the Alternatives, Argues." New Statesman 4 Feb. 2002: 12+. Questia. 3 Oct. 2004 .…