Monday, January 12, 2009

Marriage: how young is too young?

Recent discussions, some reading and a few emails I received got me pondering about what is an appropriate age for marriage. Obviously, this is not a black and white issue, as I heard both from 30-year-old women who are terrified of commitment, and 16-year-old girls who feel fully prepared and willing to enter the covenant of marriage.

The more I thought about it, the more convinced I became that the question should be, in fact, worded differently. Not "how young is too young?", but rather, "are we doing enough in order to prepare for marriage and family life from a young age?"

To me, the answer is pretty much obvious. Most young women are woefully unprepared for marriage. And I'm not even talking about the prevalent ineptitude in the realm of housekeeping - even though it is kind of sad when a 20-year-old woman doesn't know how to operate a washing machine, can't boil an egg to save her life and even prides herself for her complete disdain for housework. Just so you don't think I'm pointing my finger at someone else, I'm talking about myself a couple of years ago.

You can learn the basics of cleaning and cooking pretty quickly if there's need to. What is more difficult to reverse is an entire lifetime of secular education that draws the young girl's heart away from home, from her family, from taking care of others, and from every feminine pursuit that might be beneficial for her as a future wife. This is the world's attitude, and it obviously takes effort, alertness and diligence on the parents' side if they are determined to show their daughters a different path.

Furthermore, young women are often terrified of all the aspects of pregnancy, birth and parenthood. Not long ago, I attended a small highschool reunion. One of my old highschool friends looked at my round tummy and asked, her eyes practically widening with fear, "does it hurt?"; another friend, who called me today, asked if I'm on bed rest. Others have asked how come I'm not under supervision 24/7. Obviously, with all its possible discomforts, normal pregnancy is not an illness and is not supposed to make you incapacitated. So far, my pregnancy has been, perhaps, 5% pain and discomfort, and 95% joy and delight. But how will you ever know, if you are an only child (or, at best, one of two children), and grew up in a system of age-segregated institutionalized education, without seeing pregnant women or ever cuddling a baby?

A lot is talked about how dangerous is it to enter marriage before you are ready. Yet purposefully delaying marriage can be a source of frustration, loneliness, future difficulty in finding your match and adjusting to life together, possible difficulty in having children as the woman becomes older, and a huge stumbling block to remaining chaste.

I remember one girl in my highschool who came from a very traditional family. She got married at the beginning of her senior year, and had a baby by the end of it. She was seen by everyone as a "lost case", as someone who has caused irreparable damage to her future. The terrible irony of it was that we were surrounded by young girls who hopped from one meaningless dating relationship to the next, who became promiscuos, caught STDs, had abortions, and became emotionally crippled for the rest of their lives. But somehow, that wasn't viewed in the light of its true horror - while early marriage and motherhood were considered an obvious tragedy.

Of course, as long as "independence", "self-sufficiency", "self-development" and other "selfs" are glorified to the point of drowning out everything else, and as long as young women and men are encouraged to not even think in the direction of preparing for marriage and parenthood as teenagers, we will remain unprepared and the vague term of "too young to get married" will become a common description of just about anyone under 30.

77 comments:

Máire Bacun said...

Your concluding remark about those under 30 being considered too young for marriage is unfortunately true. Many term the period between 18-25 as a new adolescence. Previous generations were not tech-savvy, but by their teen years they knew how to cook, make clothes, farm, garden, raise children, and basic medical care. We're educated for years to fit into a system and to use technology, but were the technology to crumble we'd be at a serious loss.

As someone who was raised secularly, it is difficult to get the voice out of my head that I'm somehow inadequate by staying home and that my work at home isn't as important as pursuing a Bachelor's degree. It can become very confusing for a young girl with domestic aspirations, which is why blogs like this one offer such welcome advice in these muddled days.

Bethany Hudson said...

Amen, Anna! Of course, this is coming from a woman who was married at 21 and had a baby at a month after turning 23...and expecting a second at 24! I got (and continue to get) a lot of flack about my age, primarily from complete strangers in grocery stores and coffeeshops.

I think that preparing for marriage is very important for both young men and women. We need to teach our boys to be honorable, to be good providers for their families, to value home and family life, to value children, to be accomplished in skills that may be required in the home (basic plumbing, carpentry, car maintenance, etc.) and even basic housekeeping skills so that they will be prepared to help their wives in seasons of illness or pregnancy when she is not up to her usual abilities. We need to teach our daughters to cook, to clean, to value marriage and motherhood, not be afraid of their femininity and their ability to give life, to self-educate, to educate children. This is just a cursory list, obviously, but while our culture is big on drilling times tables and historical dates into our children's heads, there is little in institutionalized education to prepare youth for LIFE.

I think we also, as a culture, need to take a step back and take a look at the dating situation today. In our family, we intend to embrace courting, not dating, and we will not permit our sons or daughters to engage in a courtship unless they are ready for marriage within a relatively short period of time, in case the courtship should precipitate an engagement quickly.

This will mean that our daughter will not be involved in a relationship with a young man until she is emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually ready to take on the tasks of being a wife and mother within a couple of years. Her health will have to be considered, as some teenagers would need to take precautions about a pregnancy due to the fact that their bodies are still developing. (For example, if our daughter was still growing significantly, she would need to be supplementing with calcium; if she were anemic, she would have to supplement iron. These are important things to think about at any age, but particularly if you may become pregnant in your teenage years.) Likely for our daughter, all of this will mean no relationships at all with young men before the age of sixteen. Our children will not be permitted to marry until they have achieved their high school diplomas, as well. Of course, this could be done at an age younger than 18 with homeschooling or a GED.

But, there are guidelines for young men, as well. Our son will not be permitted to court a young lady until he learns to be a gentleman to his mother and sister, until he is prepared to provide financially for a wife and children (this may include a college degree or trade school), until he is prepared for the sacrificial responsibilities of being a husband and father. I'm not saying our son will need to be making x number of dollars a year before he can take a wife, but he must be earning enough that he can provide a home, food, and clothing for a family that may grow quickly. After all, once he leaves his father and mother and cleaves to his wife, he is the head of the family, and he will have to take on those responsibilities and not require us to supplement a too scanty income.

I think these sorts of things are SO important to think about--and the fact that they are so widely neglected and that so few people are given any glimpse into a healthy marriage are behind this aversion to "young" marriage--which in many people's books means anyone under 30!

~Bethany

Tracy said...

Wonderful post, Anna!

Anonymous said...

Sadly, many parents are not preparing their sons for married life. I know that is not what this blog is about, but just thought I'd toss that into the works. I'm afraid that good, hard-working, honorable men are getting to be a rare commodity. (Oh, do tell me I'm wrong.)
Mrs. L.

Tammy said...

Great post, Anna. My husband and I were 19 and 20 when we married. I don't regret marrying my Love, but for years I've said that we were too young to marry at the time. Actually, we weren't too young, but just not quite prepared.

:o)

Anonymous said...

I agree marrying young has many advantages (IF one is ready to marry). But I wouldn't glorify the young woman who married in her senior year. She likely doesn't have a high school diploma, something I think every woman needs.
The real test is how the lives of these young people will look once they reach 30. While I agree that the promiscuous teens of high school may likely have relationship problems later on, I doubt that the girl who had a husband and baby at age 17 will be much happier. Statistics show she will likely be living in or near poverty, and is very likely to get divorced at some point. (People who marry before age 20 are among the most likely to get divorced - unless they belong to a very closed, ultra-orthodox society where stigma still matters).

I really wouldn't want to see my daughter married before age 20.....I married at 19 myself and to this day think I was too young. I definitely wouldn't want my daughter having babies before she is out of her teens. Ideally, if it were up to me :) I would like my daughters to get married between age 21-25. (Likewise for my sons, or perhaps a couple of years later).

On the other hand, I don't think sons need to wait till they are capable of supporting a family before they can date! If a boy goes to college, it could take him years before he'd be 'eligible' to meet women. Personally, I'd be happy to help support my son and his mate if he decided to marry while still in university. It's better than delaying marriage for 3-5 yrs till one is ready for the work force. And I don't think it's smart to push youth out into the workforce before they get the maximum education or training they need. (I just reread this and realized I'm writing from an Israeli perspective, where men go to the army for 3 yrs starting at age 18, so the whole career thing is delayed).
Just my opinion...
Tammy

Anonymous said...

I am one of those women who was "too young to get married". i married at eighteen to a wonderful man. i had my first child 10 months later. My second child 2 years (almost to the day) after that. I am now only 24 with a 5 year old child whom I love and adore, as I do my other. i get one of two responses to my age and family situation: 1)I don't look 24 (lol there goes my vanity) or 2)did I get married because i was pregnant?
I was young when I married but it was the best choice I ever made!

Mrs. Parunak said...

Wonderful post! Our society has turned away from preparing both boys and girls for futures as spouses and parents in favor of keeping them children longer and longer while they pursue their own self-centered interests. We now view this period of "adultescence" as some have called it, as so sacred that we think it's a tragedy when someone decides to skip all that and grow up "early," never even considering the many joys and blessings that only marriage and family can bring.

Mrs. Amy @ Clothesline Alley said...

I am always quite perplexed at the idea of being "too young" for marriage once one has hit voting age. When we married, I was nineteen and my husband was twenty-one. We received a few comments about us being "too young" to be married, yet, oddly, it was never thought that my husband was "too young" to go off to war when he was just nineteen. He also, apparently, wasn't too young to join the Army and go off to BCT at just seventeen.

On several occasions I nicely pointed out my bafflement over these matters and honestly I think it was the first time the reality of just how *young* & fresh from high school the lower enlisted ranks of the American military are, proving that it's not just young marriage that people take issue with, but the entire thought of youthful responsibility. Several of my high school classmates also received flak about going to technical school to learn a trade and entering their chosen trade before they had turned twenty-one. When would they have time to "find themselves," travel, have fun, and all the other niceties they should be partaking in during their late teens and early twenties? Why would they want to be investing in Roth IRAs and 401ks at their young ages when they could be gathering up heaps of student debt at college? Why buy a little fixer upper house of one's own when they could be living in a dorm or an apartment with roommates?

Even my younger sister, who is attending college but doesn't drink, dresses modestly, doesn't date, and so on receives much grief for not using her college time more wisely. Seems my sister is crazy & out of her mind to believe her time at college is to learn & study her chosen major, apply for grad school, and do lab work, not go out drinking, partying, and participating in the types of activities that could destroy her life, rather than help her "find herself."

The madness of what we should be spending our teens and twenties doing today is difficult for me to comprehend. We only have so much time in this life and we all need to be striving to make the decisions that can help us live the best life possible, not the ones that bring us the most fun and help us waste the most time on activities that just do not matter and may leave us scarred for life.

Rina said...

Wonderful post, Anna. My husband and I often wonder how young is "too young" for our girls, and I think you've made some excellent points here. One of the "older women" in my life was married at sixteen and she now has 11? 12? kids (I can never keep track) and has an amazing marriage.

B said...

Great post, Anna! I became a home-centered wife at age 22, after being a working wife for just 1 year. It took me many years to overcome my "institutional" mindset, and to overcome my hurt feelings from those who devalued my position in life. But now, at age 44, I delight in watching as the layers and layers of lies from our feministic culture continue to unravel in my mind and heart. I am becoming more and free as I become less and less CC(culturally correct). I have the privilege of homeschooling my 5 children and giving them a real education. I only wish I had been raised to know the TRUTH! But I thank God for what he has done to bring me to this place. Anna, may you always persevere in this life of freedom the Lord has granted you, and continue to shout about these things from the rooftops! The blessings increase day by day. My thoughts and prayers are with you as you prepare for your dear baby's arrival.

Sasha said...

Yes,I called you and didn't mean bed rest in the meaning of illness. I just was polite and since its the last days of your pregnancy and you wrote that you had contractions,so I asked it to know if the contractions still continue. In no way I meant that you are sick. I am very happy for you. Hope everything goes well.

Zoe said...

I don't think there's a definite point for marriage. Kids getting hitched before finishing high school worries me a bit, but I can't really articulate why. I really think it's more an issue of "ready" than "age," as you point out. Different life experiences lead to different lives.

Mrs W said...

I was married "young" (at 21) and don't regret it. I"m 23 now and pregnant with my third child. People are rude about it, but it's their problem that they aren't open minded enough to realize that not everyone wants to live like them.

Gurl4God said...

I come from a more mainstream (although not secular) lifestyle than you and I have met few people such as the ones you describe from your reunion. Maybe Israel is different from the U.S.?

I got married at 25 after finishing college, and I recently had a baby at age 27. I continue to work part-time, and I do clean my house, prepare meals, etc. I think everything has worked out well for me and there isn't much I wish I could change.
Maybe my family is different than yours, but that doesn't mean it's bad.

Terry @ Breathing Grace said...

You already know that I agree but I thought I'd take the time to say so. It's been a while since I've commented.

The baby will be here soon, huh? I hope you are feeling well!

Lady M said...

I agree with you - sadly, too many people are doing only "book" education and forgetting that they need to properly train their children in the areas of "home-ec".

My 10 yr old dd knows how to fully do the laundry (she did all of it while I was on bed-rest - the Dr. was shocked when she heard that a 9 yr old could do it, lol!). My 7 1/2 yr old ds knows how to sort the laundry. They both know how to do the dishes. Both my dh & I are teaching both children cooking (he is better at some things than I am and vice versa).

My ds loves to vacuum (no idea why - he has loved it since he was little and had his own toy vacuum). On Saturday afternoon, he "helped" my husband change the oil on the vehicles. Sure, right now it is tool handing and just showing him how it is done, but my FIL did the same thing with my dh when he was a boy and my husband does most of the repairs on our vehicles now - saves us tons of money in car repairs. Hopefully, my ds will be able to do the same.

I was thankful, too, that my dh had been trained both by his parents and the military {grin} to do laundry, cleaning, cooking, etc. It was such a blessing to have a husband that could cook us nourishing food when he got home from work when I was not able to do so. There are many families I know that would not be able to function properly. I also understand now that my niece (a year older than my dd) is now helping with the laundry at home because of my blogging about it, lol!

Anyway, for whatever reason, it hit both my dh & I this weekend that in 10 years, our dd could quite easily be married and having children - Yikes! I feel like I have so much to cram into the next decade...it seems like a long time, but trust me - it flies by!

We have been doing our best to prepare our children as they grow for the things they need to know when they are older. I truly hope they are both married before the age of 25, lol! Too many potential issues with pregnancy as you get older and I think you are less set in your ways when you are younger - and you grow into each other - does that make sense? My dh & I were 25 & 28 respectively when we were married (we met when we were 23 & 25). It was the 900 miles between us that it took us almost 3 years get engaged & married.

Anyway, I am rambling now.

Lady M.

AnneK said...

I come from a culture where 16 year old CHILDREN do not get married off anymore thankfully, like they used to be. I won't say what is a right age to get married, but I think under 19 is wrong for a CHILD to be married off. Yes, the child may know to do laundry, cook eggs and love cleaning and love babies, but I think it is very wise that they wait until 19 for emotional maturity to set in and the body become mature for child bearing. I know that people will throw examples and words to challenge my stand, but this is my strong opinion.

I come from a culture where the general marriagable age for a woman is 22-26 which I think is perfect. They have a good education, time to get mature in all aspects, spend time with parents. None of them have abortions, well nobody even has boyfriends. I have never even held hands with a man other than my husband. I have been through high school, engineering college, and grad school. We have very low rate of divorce. Women there are the perfect balance of strength, intellect, and feminity. (Not that I am one. I am more of a ahem work in progress.) Here there is on one end, women who hate men, hate marriage and children and wait for kids until 40. Then on the other spectrum, there are people who glorify marriage and motherhood to the point of idolatry. Or maybe I am wrong, there are women in the middle here also, they just don't blog. :)

Joy of Frugal Living said...

Many good points here. We got a lot of negativity for marrying at 22, and our only regret now is that we didn't push harder against our parents' wishes and marry at 20. Growing up together has been such a blessing. I also wish we hadn't listened to the advice to not have children earlier, which is just as bad. I hope we can prepare our children to be responsible adults by a reasonable age.

Praying for an easy birth for you, soon!

Laura said...

I think one of the biggest obstacles to successful young marriage is that a lot of young girls lack the maturity to make a good choice in who they want to spend their lives with. I am sure this is not true for everyone, but I know at 18 I thought I would never change, but I am a practically unrecognizable person in terms of my friends, my goals, my interests and my personality.

A lot of the other stuff can be picked up, but if you pick a man who you have only known a few months based on an immature judgment who turns out to not be who you thought he would be, that is going to be quite an obstacle.

Liz said...

On thee other side if you do get married young and have a family you have problems with other mothers. I have run into many mothers who will not talk to me and keep their children away because I am 21 with a 3 year old and a almost 2 year old. It is almost like they are afraid that their children will catch wanting to have a family young.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Tammy,

Actually, as far as I know this young woman *does* have her diploma. Not that I don't know successful, mature adults without a high school diploma - but that's a whole different story!

Sasha,

I had a feeling it was YOU in the previous comments, haha! :o)) Well yes I'm still having contractions, but they are irregular so it might take some days yet. I'm not in any real pain.

Liz,

The opinion of others can be discouraging. But it doesn't mean one should give up one's beliefs or chosen lifestyle.

LaurenAshley said...

Anna,

I completely agree with you, i got married at 19 (3 months after my birthday) and you would not believe the amount of doubt and sorry looks i recieved from people.
I completely understand that most girls my age, especially here in the USA, are completely not ready for marriage but for me personally i can cook, clean, sew, crochet, and look very anxiously into the future when i will be able to have a baby of my own.
It is very amazing how girls in my young women can jump from guy to guy and get pregnant without even knowing who the father is, but if they were planning on going to college and getting a job then they were a success story. However for someone to get married means a complete waste of life and heaven forbid you want to be a homemaker.
I dont understand how women can look past their maternal instincts and never have children, or care for their husbands and homes. My desire for these things have always been very strong.
I greatly enjoy reading your blog, you are a very inspirational person!

Bethany Hudson said...

Tammy - I think it was my comment about young men being capable of providing for their families before marrying that you were commenting on. I was writing from an American perspective: our young men only serve in the armed forces by choice, and many make careers OUT OF being in the military. When my husband and I were engaged, he had not yet earned his degree but was a year away from doing so (age 19)...I also know couples who have managed to live off student loans, parttime jobs, and TA-ships while finishing off their education. So, as I said, I'm not advocating that you have to earning a yearly salary before dating, just that it's on the horizon in the near future before getting into a serious relationship geared toward marriage with someone.

I think that helping out our children with education costs and other financial needs is wonderful, and it is a blessing to be able to do so. My cousin's in-laws did this for him and his wife while he was still in residency to become a dr. (In his first year as a practicing physician, he was able to pay them back in full, but without help, he wouldn't have been able to marry and have kids until he was 28!) My concern was with young men who EXPECT their parents to continue providing large portions of their income because they don't feel ready yet to start providing for their wife and children. I also don't like how many young people enter into dating relationships, growing intimate (emotionally and physically) LONG before they will be able to marry. I think it's just playing with fire. Though it's counter-cultural, perhaps it is better to wait to open those floodgates until you are more in a position to act on the feelings of love that are sure to surface.

~Bethany

Anonymous said...

If both the parties entering marriage are mentally and emotionally ready and at least financially "safe" then I don't think it matters whether the person is sixteen or thirty six. I personally think it is wonderful if a young girl in her teens feels ready and capable to fulfill the calling of marriage and motherhood, but if her partner is around her age and hasn't had a steady income, I would be wary about it.

I think marriage is great, but entirely depending financially on parents isn't so much. (Which is very prominent in most teen marriages - unless it is in very rare situation of ones who come from a tight-knit religious community). At mid-twenties at least the chance of men capable holding a steady job and income is higher.

But of course there are always exceptions - perhaps I just haven't seen it yet. Perhaps there are young men in their teens with steady job and income and ready to enter marriage and fatherhood. In a secular society, I highly doubt it.

As always, articulate and great post, Anna. I continue to wish you a safe and uncomplicated labor. I can't wait to see your baby girl. (as I am sure everybody else, too. :) )

Prayers,
W

A. said...

I come from a 'wait till you're older' background. I think there is value to *both* sides, and there is no "right" age for a lifelong commitment. Personally, I changed tremendously between 17-23, and didn't really think or act like a mature adult until 25. (The cynic, of course, will call that an "extended adolescence.") I'm 26 now, and finally starting to think seriously about marriage. I am certain that marrying at 18 would have been a terrible mistake - my 18 year old self was impulsive, selfish, and stubborn...not exactly marriage material. I certainly have nothing against those who choose to marry young, but to marry young and then pronounce one's own young marriage as the best for *everyone* is myopic.

In other news, did everyone hear about the 107 year old woman who is finally ready to settle down? :)

http://www.news.com.au/story/0,27574,24902504-401,00.html

Allison

Brandy said...

As usual, great post!

I grew up in an untraditional home. When I was younger, my dad was the one who was home with us girls (I have 1 sister) while my mom worked. When I was in 8th grade, they both went to work. By that time, though I was only in 8th grade, I knew how to basically run a household. Dad thought if he had to do stuff, us girls did too. So he taught us how to clean, do laundry, cook (made my first holiday meal by myself in 9th grade), the basics of budgeting, etc. At the time, I thought we had too much to do and not enough "be a kid" time. Now, though, while I still think we may not have had enough "be a kid" time, I'm grateful that I knew so much as such a young age.

I definitely felt ready to marry young. Like right out of high school. I didn't find the one God intended for me until I was 20. We met online, actually. We married when I was a month shy of my 21st birthday (he was 25 and also very ready to marry) . To many, that seemed WAY too young -- but not to us.

I'll admit, though, that I didn't think I was ready for motherhood. Don't get me wrong, I WANTED to be a mother ... but I was very scared. My mom wasn't around much at all until after I was in 8th grade (she was in the military, working 16hr days). All I really knew of childbirth is that it hurt ... my mom and I both almost died ... and you can get an epidural so you don't feel a thing.

Our oldest is now 5yrs old and mothering has, actually, come very naturally to me. There are tough times, sure, but overall it's such a joy. Our youngest is 3 months old now. Mothering 2 is definitely harder than I thought it would be ... but still very much worth it. I can't wait to have more ... as many as the Lord would bless us with!

I think it's a shame more aren't more prepared. I know we plan to have both of our girls ready to run a home (because, honestly? Even if they work outside of the home, housework still needs to be done!), ready for marriage (should the Lord have that planned for them), and ready for children (again, if the Lord has that planned for them).

Anonymous said...

I'm with Ms. L for all of the studying, preparing, praying etc. that I do when it comes to my desire to marry. Rarely do I find men that are doing the same. Even those that desire to marry which is why when a guy that I know 100% God was drawing us together, when he approached I totally missed it because I wasn't expecting hinting from someone seeking a wife. It was explained to me as I continued to wait for him to be able to approach me properly LOL that was all I was going to get....indeed it was he eventually went on to marry someone else.

Anonymous said...

Anna, I read your blog regularly and I have to tell you, this is the best article you've written.

I was married at barely 22. I had our first child at 27.

I wouldn't have changed one thing.

If young people weren't so immature, this wouldn't even be a discussion. You got right to the heart of the matter. Dating and sleeping around is considered acceptable but getting married is considered foolish.

Great job on a great topic.

Miss Rose Virginia said...

I completely agree with you Anna. However, I personally was a little different than the average girl. When I was younger, although I was sucked into the theory that women have to go to college and have a good job, I considered myself old because I wasn't even close to being married yet at the age of 18. Even now, after I've decided not to go to college and instead train to be a wife and mother, there's this annoying little voice in the back of my head saying, "You're 21 and you're still not married?! Gosh, you are so incompetant!" And it's that same voice that riducules my aunts because one just got married at the age of 27, and the other, age 30, is still not even engaged.

jeninok said...

Anna,

My husband and I have been married 13 years as of tomorrow (today, in your part of the world). We married 3 weeks after I had turned 20 and he had turned 21. We had three children before I was 25, and are praying for more.
I was minimally prepared for the tasks required in household management. Thankfully, my husband and I were patient with each other as we learned the necessary duties. Sure, we had our troubles, but it has been mostly true joy. I believe we could have married younger and still be together and in love.
I think that it would benefit all families if they would teach their children how to do household chores and spend time with all ages. I think age segregation is a major factor in today's societal problems. I know several people who have never held a newborn until the day the dr. delivers their own. I also have several friends who are fearful of elderly people.
I am thankful for your thoughts. You beautifully articulate many of my own thoughts and desires that I just cannot seem to pull together.
My daughter and I have been reading and watching for signs of your darling hope everyday. You are in our prayers for a safe delivery and healthy mom and baby.

Jen in OK

Rebecca Grider said...

I will preface this by stating that I am a 35 (going on 36) year old woman who has never been interested in marriage and children. I worry about the expectations that many of the posters may be placing on their children, especially their daughters. Many of these girls seem to be brought up to believe that the only path women should aspire to is marriage and children. While I believe that a WOMAN has the right to choose that life if it is what she deems best for her, I think it is unlikely that a GIRL of 16-21 is fully aware yet of what SHE wants.

Not every woman is cut out to be a mother and a homemaker. I am not. I say that not to impune anyone else's choices, just stating that it is not the life for me. And it's very possible that it's not the right choice for some of the daughters of other posters here.

Are other choices even discussed with the daughters? Are they taught that if they don't wish for marriage and children that they can become doctors, lawyers, writers, teachers, researchers, business owners? Perhaps the 10 year old who is mature enough to do laundry is a budding scientist. Maybe another daughter would be a happy and content university professor. Why are those not offered as choices to these girls?

Please know that my questions are not to judge university professors as more valuable than stay-at-home mothers, but only as a different choice in life. A choice I don't think is wisely made by someone still in their teens. That's why it's important to have those teenage and young adult years: so that every individual can learn who they are and what they want out of life. What happens to the fabric of a family when a young lady or gentleman marries at 19 and then, as they grow up, realize that a family life is not what they wanted after all? My cousin married at 20, had her first of four children at 21 and ended up with a drug-addicted husband who left the family. That is not to say that this is the norm when young people marry, but that sort of situation is more prevalent than when people wait until their mid to late 20's to marry.

Neuropoet said...

We married very young - I was seventeen actually - he was 21. And, I have to admit it still stings a bit that someone would call me a "child". I was hardly a child - I had already faced death by the time I was fourteen, and I did not have a child's perspective of life at all - I knew how short and precious life is from a young age. There is no guarantee of tomorrow... I think that people look at age and immediately think something that might not be true - every person is unique so it isn't really fair to immediately assume what someone is like due to their age. At seventeen I was already done with high school, and began college classes with my hubby a few months after we were married.Our first child didn't come until we had been married for a year and half, but I still remember how excited we were -- my hubby picked me up and spun me around the room! :)We have had a lot of ups and downs in the last 12 years, but we've never thought that we married too young. Marrying young gave us time to "grow into" each other - we grew together and helped shape each other in a way that would be a lot harder if we had been older. In fact, I have a hard time seeing how a couple who marries after they are "set in their ways" can mold to each other easily... it seems that it would be a lot harder to live one life. But I think it really does come down to how prepared the couple is... there are plenty of people who aren't ready for the reality of marriage no matter what their age is. Honestly, the hardest part of being married young was dealing with people who "looked down" on me and assumed negative things about me... I would definitely do it all over again...

Oh and before anyone assumes we must have grown up in some kind of special "subculture" I just want to point out that while we were active in our churches as teenagers we didn't grow up in "church going" homes. We were public schooled, both of us came from divorced families etc. According to what "everyone says" there's no way we should be together now - especially since both of our children have special needs (most couples with a child with "special needs" end up in divorce court). As a couple we tend to think that marrying young gave us a strong foundation to stand on in the storms of life - along with our faith - whether it was my mother in law's suicide, or my father in law's brain tumor, or our children being diagnosed, etc... We've been able to stand together - and can't even imagine being apart...

~Jenny

Gothelittle Rose said...

I think one of the big problems in U.S. culture nowadays is encouraging the putting-off of marriage without encouraging the putting-off of sexuality. Still, is abstinence until age 35 really the right answer?

Say what you will about marriage at the 16-18yr old timespan, but at least people didn't used to have to try to keep their sexuality under wraps for 20 years after its awakening!

MarkyMark said...

Ladies,

I'd love to comment on this topic, but it would take me too long to hit all the good points that were brought up. Having said that, I'll simply say this: Anna, Bethany, Terry, and the others I couldn't remember represent the best in womanhood! I'm just in awe at the wisdom I read on here...

On second thought, I'll make a point or two. One, our culture is structured in such a way as to PROLONG adolescence; in fact, that word and concept is a modern invention. Back in 19th Century America, people were marrying, having children, and assuming other adult responsibilities while still in their teens. John Taylor Gatto, in his book on education, addresses this topic in more detail.

Secondly, if a woman wants to have children, marrying young is a must. According to the Mayo Clinic, a woman's fertility PEAKS between the ages of 20-24; others in the medical profession will say that her fertility peaks at around 27 years of age. Regardless of which number one picks, that's young. If a woman goes to college, she's 21-22 when she finishes; tack on grad school (medical, law, or business), you're talking 25-27 or so. That's BEFORE she even finds someone to date, let alone marry!

A man should probably marry young also, especially if he wants to play with his kids. I have bad knees, so that would be hard at my age. If I'd been married at 27, then that's not an issue. Also, if a man's younger, he has the strength and resilience to take on heavy duty projects such as building a house, doing a major car repair, etc.

As to what constitutes being too young to marry, I don't know if one can put a number on that. For me, the question would be this: is the person ready to assume the RESPONSIBILITIES & DUTIES that come with marriage? For aspiring wives, how are your domestic skills? For aspiring husbands, do you have a good, practical skill ((e.g. carpentry, electrical work, etc.) that can bring money in good times & bad? Can you hold down a job? I could go on, but you get my point.

Many people in the Bible married young, but not everyone did this. God had to teach Moses some serious lessons before he got married and led the Israelites out of Egypt; consequently Moses married much later.

I need to close this out. As it is, I went on far longer than I'd intended to. This was an interesting question, and there was lots of wisdom in the various replies. You ladies embody everything that's wonderful about womanhood; your husbands are blessed men! Now, if we could only clone a few ten millions of each of you, this world would be a much better place! Have a good night...

MarkyMark

A Dose of Joy said...

Anna, I've emailed you about my upcoming marriage before, but even at 22 (which feels like a fine age to marry, thank you!), I am often asked, "Wait, wouldn't you rather just date lots of boys for a few more years?" I find that so insulting---like we haven't prayed continuously about our decision to marry "young", but I suppose it is how our culture has been trained to view women. One of my greatest joys is knowing I'll be married to my best friend, who will soon become my "family." What a blessing is marriage---being joined together with the person God has led you to.

True, when I hear of girls being under 18 and married, I find myself raising my eyebrows, but I do know that some women are raising their eyebrows at me, and I certainly am not in a position to judge what another woman feels called to do. What I do know is the joy God has put in my heart in anticipation of our upcoming marriage is a type of joy I cannot compare other things with!

I wonder how different, if at all, the views in Europe are to here in the US. I must say, I'm amazed you're posting so close to the birth of your daughter! I'm praying for you. Thank you for a post that is close to my heart at the moment.

A. said...

"Then on the other spectrum, there are people who glorify marriage and motherhood to the point of idolatry."

Oh, AnneK, I want to hug you :) You put into words so perfectly what I was thinking.

Allison

Sarah R said...

Hi Anna! Hope you're feeling well.
I have a very strong opinion about this, as I was 19 when I married my handsome husband, who was 21. Even our pastor discouraged us from getting married, saying we were too young. Interestingly enough, both of our mothers were absolutely fine with us marrying. However, I was horrified to learn after the ceremony that several of my family members actually passed around a sheet of paper documenting guesses on when we would break up. If I remember correctly, one person had us pegged at 4 months, while another generous person gave us 3 years. Well, I sure wish I could collect on that cash, because we have been married now for fourteen years, have three children, and are stronger than ever! My heart still races when he comes in the door. I smile when I hear his ring-tone on my cell. Even tripping over his gigantic shoes which he always leaves out gives me a grin and a warm feeling in my heart (and sometimes my toes, ouch!)
My grandmother got married when she was seventeen, and my grandparents were married for 45 wonderful years before she passed. I hope I can break their record.

L said...

Laura, excellent point.

AnneK - I saw that you're in FL. I was as surprised to discover that you're State-side as I was to discover that AnnaT was not, lol(if you've not been following long, that may seem odd, though). You make some good points about what constitutes readiness, but come on --- "Women there are the perfect balance of strength, intellect, and feminity" etc. You know, they're perfect, except for occasional man-hate...?

Shannon said...

Hi Anna,
I am glad you are doing well in your pregnancy. A couple of weeks ago I was visiting a friend and took the elevator up. There was a pregnant women beside me and told her she had a cute pregnant belly. She thanked me but sadly, told me that people referred to her belly as "fat." This was a shame since honestly, this woman was toned and appeared to be rather fit. It seems that our society views pregnancy as some kind of ailment. I agree that people are waiting too long for marriage. I am 30 and still single. It is very hard for me at times and I often fear that I am too old to get married. Yet, I am still hopeful.

lady jane said...

I agree with this post on so many levels, Anna. :o)

PhDCow said...

IMO, it's really the maturity of the individuals, not necessarily the age. My parents got married before age 20 because I came into the world. Growing up was horrible because both were trying to "live the life" that they didn't get to have because they became parents at such a young age. 10 years ago, they went through a bitter divorce that has left me emotionally scarred.

Deborah said...

Hi, Anna,

I'm a "lurker" coming out of the shadows here . . . I agree totally that there isn't enough done to prepare young people for marriage. I'm 30 years old, and I've been married for almost 3 years now. When my husband and I first discussed marriage, and he said that he wanted a wife who would stay home with the kids, my reaction was mixed. I know how to work outside the home. I have a master's degree; shouldn't I use it? I had no idea how to be a stay-at-home wife and mother. At the same time, a part of me resonated with that desire, and both my emotions and my logic told me that it was the right choice for a mother to be home with her children.

My husband and I agreed that I would work outside the home until we had children. I worked for 2 years, and I was miserable . . . I was exhausted, from the commute, the job, and then all the housework when I got home! Add to that the fact that I never was taught how to do housework--my father thought that was "beneath" his daughter, and he refused to allow my mother to teach me.

Around 10 months ago, I quit my job because my husband accepted an overseas position. I spent my time preparing for the move, then setting up my new home in Egypt. I have no desire to go back to paid work now. I'm still figuring out the housework, but I refuse to hire a maid, even though we can afford one. I need to learn this stuff! My regret is that I didn't know how to take care of a home before I married. Now, though, I look forward to learning about being a good wife--through Bible study, reading good books about it, just plain practicing, and from reading your blog. It is my hope that you'll provide information about mothering as well as information about being a good wife and homemaker in general, as my husband and I are hoping to embark on that adventure soon, too.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Ladies,

Thank you for your interesting, multi-perspective input. Oh how I wish I could reply extensively to some of the comments, but time just doesn't allow right now, so I'll only sa this:

No doubt, those of you who say, "a 16(18, 19, 21)-year-old isn't ready for marriage", are mostly right. Yes, *MOST* 18-year-old girls these days aren't ready for marriage. My post wasn't about denying it - but I truly believe it doesn't HAVE to be so.

We aren't prepared because no one cares to prepare us. We aren't ready to be married at 20 not because it's impossible to be ready, but because this is the cultural norm. Like Mark here pointed out, "our culture is structured in such a way as to PROLONG adolescence; in fact, that word and concept is a modern invention."

And finally, to Rebecca, about other options for women: yes, some women do not want to become wives and mothers. However, the vast majority of them do. I think 99% of little girls will happily talk to you about the wedding they will have one day, the children they will have, etc; they will cuddle dolls, play house, and so on. It's not because they have been brainwashed - it's because they are feminine by nature. They only need encouragement to blossom into wonderful wives and mothers. Very few are different, and the quest of finding out who is who, and teaching them accordingly, belongs to their parents.

Rebekka said...

Someone asked about how people in Europe saw the whole early marriage thing. I can say that in Denmark the average marrying age is about 30 for women and 33 for men. My impression is that it is much more normal here than when I was living in the US for people to live together and have children without marrying. It's also not unusual for people to marry after having been together for 5 or 10 years, and to have already had children by the time they marry, although it seems that if people are inclined to marry the majority want to do it before they have kids.

There is also a television program called "De unge mødre" (the young mothers) that follows teen mothers. While it is obvious that these girls love their children they are totally unprepared for motherhood and the undefined relationship they often have to the fathers doesn't help at all. It's very tragic. So that does affect how Danes see young people starting families.

When I married my husband I was 23 and he was 27, and we were both considered too young. I don't know anyone else in Denmark (personally) who was married as young as I was. We also got married quickly because I am an American and Denmark had at that time just introduced a new law that both spouses needed to be over 24 years of age if the Danish spouse wanted to bring the foreign one back to DK, and we needed to turn in my papers before it went into effect.

My parents were unhappy that I was moving abroad but did not seem to complain very much about my age at the time. My father said that he thought we should wait a few years before having children because if the marriage did not last the international aspect of the situation would complicate custody matters.

My mother in law (who is Danish) on the other hand was very unhappy, because she felt that we should live together before we got married. After we had been married about 5 years she said that the amount of time she thought we should live together before getting married had passed, so she was okay with us being married now.

In June we will be married 7 years and I don't regret it. Parts of it were hard - I wasn't particularly well-trained in domestic matters and while I could look after myself/us I couldn't necessarily do it WELL. Especially money has been a problem, I wish that I had learned better about budgeting. Running a household is definitely not just laundry and cleaning and making dinner, it is at least as much about living within your means! But I think that the difficulties we did have were, as Anna wrote, more to do with being unprepared for the domestic realities and (in my case) having moved to a new country not knowing anything about it than my age. Of course it helps that my husband is wonderful. :-)

Oops, sorry this is so long!

Rebekka

Anonymous said...

I'd like to add a few points.
First, I don't think 'being prepared for marriage' means knowing how to keep house. As has been stated earlier in this thread, a girl can learn to do laundry and cook at the age of nine. That doesn't mean she's ready for marriage.

The domestic knowledge helps, but it is not the essence.

Being ready for marriage constitutes a kind of maturity that comes with time and experience. Being ready for marriage means being adult, and having some notion of what you want in life. I'm sorry, but I don't think most 17 or even 18 yr olds are at that stage. They are still changing, undergoing a metamorphasis that may not be complete for another decade..or ever...but at least its most dramatic stage is usually over by the early 20s.

I don't think it does any good to compare things to the old days. Who said they were any happier? I know an elderly lady who immigrated to Israel from Morocco. She was married at age 15. She says she used to run away from her husband and household chores in order to play with dolls at her mother's place. And this is in a culture where girls were geared to marry very young.

I got married a couple of months after I turned 19. We are still married today, 17 yrs later, and very happy. But those first few years were tough; I was just too emotionally immature for marriage. It had nothing to do with whether I could operate a laundry machine. It had everything to do with the fact that I was still a teenager, and still not as confident in my own skin as I liked to think at the time.

I admit, my kids haven't learned that many domestic skills yet. The older boys can bake a cake, they can tidy up...but that's it. I prefer both my sons and daughters spend their time on studies. And there is so little time left in a day, after school and homework and friends. (I realize many succeed in imbuing their kids both with domestic knowledge and a broad intellectual education- but I am not such a talented multi-tasker). I will teach them - both sons and daughters - the domestic techniques once they really need them. Meanwhile, I prefer they reach their full academic potential, and hope I am readying them for any future marriage by teaching them values, being a role model, showing them what compromise and forgiveness and family dynamics is all about.
Tammy

Tori said...

Super wonderful post!! Really needed to be said and you do a wonderful job.

My husband and I were married when we were 18, not because we had to but because we loved each other. It was tough sometimes but not as tough as it would have been if we had waited 10 years and entered marriage with set habits and ideas. My hope for our children is that they will marry young. Too many parents and pushing children to wait and the children are dealing with feelings that only marriage can address and ending in up in sin.

Great post!!!

CappuccinoLife said...

Amen Anna!
I was married at 19 and our first was born when I was 20. I think I could have been better prepared (emotionally--grew up with a depressed, recovering feminist mom and had some "stuff" to work through before I could settle into marriage peacefully). But I don't regret when I married or when God gave me our babies.

I think the late teens and early twenties can go either way. A person can remain a "child" (or childish anyway) for their whole life. Or they can grow up and decide to be an adult. I know 27 year olds who are still drinking every weekend away and sleeping around and complaining about their student loans, and I know a young man who at 19 owned his own successfull business complete with employees. I prefer to raise my sons to be like the latter, so that *if* God brings them together with a good woman at a young age, they will be ready to take on the responsibility of marriage and family. Same for my daughters if he gives us any.

TO the negative commenters: I am quite sure Anna is not talking about "marrying off children". If your teen is a child, certainly, don't let them get married. The question is, why we as a culture are so invested in keeping our children childish well past their teens and into their twenties. And why a serious, responsible thing like marriage is "bad", but nobody blinks an eye and promiscuous sex, irresponsibility, extended adolescence, and serial "committed relationships".

Mrs. Anna T said...

"If your teen is a child, certainly, don't let them get married. The question is, why we as a culture are so invested in keeping our children childish well past their teens and into their twenties."

This is precisely what I meant.

Lori said...

Rebecca - how interesting! This is completely tangential to the original post, but probably half of the international couples I know, maybe more, and I know quite a few... are Danish-US. Interesting... I think you must have been rather brave to marry a man you knew would take you far from home, maybe permanently. And how depressing to have a father who was saying "In case of divorce..." at the same time as making that decision.

Jenny P. said...

I very much appreciate your blog and this post in particular. I am 21 and married 6 months ago -- just past my birthday. As I am still two semesters from finishing my Bachelor's degree, I've heard many times that I'm too young to be trying to make a marriage work. Ironically, these comments have come from single mothers who had children "accidentally" in casual dating relationships.

My experiences over the past 6 months have shown me that being mature enough has nothing to do with age. It's a process of learning to put others before yourself. The house can't always look like the cover of a magazine -- as another commenter said, she often trips over her husbands shoes. Things get moved and you have to have the grace to let it go without anger. Maturity has more to do with letting go of selfishness than achieving some societal landmark (i.e. diploma, degree, age).

Thank you for your thought-provoking writings!

Rachel said...

My husband and I married 13+ yrs ago (it will be 14 come April 1)...I was 6 days past my 21st bday, and he was 2 mos shy of 30. A long wait for him, but he was able to get settled into his military career (which included deployments and travel to countries I could not/would not have been able to go to with him)...a career which gave us wonderful health benefits, and now (he retired last April with 25 yrs in service), a healthy retirement income, which is more than his civilian salary each month.

We've had our share of "oh my goodnesss! You are/were too young to get married!" comments. I was informed after the fact that someone gave us 3 mos.

For unknown reasons, it took us 4 yrs of trying to conceive our first, but we have since been blessed with 5 living children (and one who has passed) since that time--3 girls, and a set of twin boys :-) Life is a wonderful thing. Times have been tough, but it was a tough of our own making.

I definitely see the societal push for shaking up, extended adolescence and the "It's all about ME and what makes ME happy" crowd affecting people's mindsets on this issue (and other, tangentially related, ones as well). My daughters HAD to pull together when I was expecting my sons--no local help, and my husband was gone most of the time--so they learned how to do laundry, dishes, run the vacuum, etc. They'd been dusting since mismatched socks would stay on their little hands. They know what needs to be done, and how to do it--most of my "job", I figure, is figuring out how to make myself obsolete--so that when they leave home, they know how to effectively run a home by themselves...they should know how to do the jobs that need to be done, when they need to be done (mostly, I just try to act as a motivator these days--their self-discipline is still wanting a bit--but they are still all 8 1/2 and younger...

This is something that has been on my mind for a long time. So many people push the "if you don't do it the way "everyone else" is doing it, you are the one who is wrong. No thanks. I'll be different, thank you very much.

Mrs. T, it is quite inspiring to see your continued posting. I am praying for a successful, peaceful, uneventful delivery for you and your beloved (and your wee one). I keep checking to see if there is an update. I don't suppose Mr T will be posting in your absence? We will be waiting with baited breath til we hear the good news...

G-d bless...

Anonymous said...

Happy 2009! I haven't visited this site in a while due to holidays and other issues at home, but am pleased that Mrs. T's pregnancy is going well.

I think that there is no right age for marriage, except that 18 should be the minimum age. Some states in the U.S. allow marriage of young teenagers, as young as 13 or 14, with their parents' consent. I don't think that should be allowed. Younger teenagers are still dependent on and easily coerced by parents.

Other than that, it should be up to individual circumstances. People are different in temperament and circumstances so what works for one person may not work for others. I do think rushing into marriage just for the sake of getting married is a huge mistake. But I also think avoiding marriage just because you think you are too young can be a mistake too. I am very glad I shocked my parents and friends with my engagement announcement when I was 23, but I think I would have been equally content waiting until my 40s or later, or nevery marrying at all, if I hadn't met the right person.

To my mind, living a full and moral life is what it's all about. If that happens to include marriage and children, that's great but it doesn't have to.

-- Pendragon

Elusive Wapiti said...

An excellent post, Anna. Bravo. Much wisdom here.

"She was seen by everyone as a "lost case", as someone who has caused irreparable damage to her future. The terrible irony of it was that we were surrounded by young girls who hopped from one meaningless dating relationship to the next, who became promiscuos, caught STDs, had abortions, and became emotionally crippled for the rest of their lives."

While it is true that teenage motherhood is often associated with quite a few social ills, it is not always this way, and does not necessarily need to be so. I wonder how many remember just how recent in history it was--particularly here in the States--that the norm to be married was 15 or 16, with the first baby not that long after?

To me, the 16 or 17 yo woman who bears a child isn't automatically a lost cause or even a negative event if that happening is within the context of a marriage to a good man and that household has the resources to accept the additional burdens that a child brings.

And you hit the nail right on the head with the observation of how the situation above compares to the condition of the girls (not women) who sleep around and consequently make themselves phsyically mentally and spiritually diseased and bereft. The irony is that the former example will garner much tut-tutting; the latter nary a mention.

The job for us all, as I see it, is to raise up high-quality women and men who conform not to the patterns of this world but to God's design.

"...and as long as young women and men are encouraged to not even think in the direction of preparing for marriage and parenthood as teenagers, we will remain unprepared and the vague term of "too young to get married" will become a common description of just about anyone under 30."

Part of the problem as I see it is the two-decade-long childhood that our children are immersed in. In fact, adolescense as a concept wasn't even invented until the passage of child-labor laws. This is a function, I think, of a compulsory public school system which creates an alternate (and totalitarian) universe that places children's emotional and social development in a state of near suspended animation until they leave the schooling system. They don't become full-fledged adults until a few years after they graduate from college, a full decade or more later than it was at the turn of the twentieth century.

Thus the "too young to marry description" is quite aptly applied to males and females until both reach adulthood in their late 20s.

This is a wonderful post regarding girls being too young to marry. Do you have one concerning boys waiting in the wings, perhaps?

Anonymous said...

I have to think for the vast majority of women getting married in the teens is going to be too young. And having a college degree (even if one would eventually like to be a SAHM) is rarely going to be a bad thing.

Annie said...

Hi I like your blog.

But the picture you draw doesn't do justice to Israeli secular society.

At the end of high school, I moved to Israel and attended a secular school.

Now I'm 26 and most of my high school girlfriends are married and have babies.

I think Israel is quite a family-oriented society, at leat if you compare it it Europe.

Civilla said...

I was married at 17. I don't think I was prepared for marriage, but I have had a successful one, and this year we will celebrate 39 years of marriage.

People say it is wrong to get married that young, but if a 17 year old girl gets pregnant out of wedlock, nobody seems troubled about that.

I find it interesting that doctors say that a woman's prime childbearing years are between ages 18 and 25. That should tell us something. 18 to 25 is not too young to be married.

FreeMommie said...

Anna,
I agree with you. A lot of commenters spoke about domestics have nothing to do with your ability to handle marriage, but experience and maturity.

Although I can partly agree that domestics is only part, "experience" and "maturity" is so general and can be self-defined.

I know plenty of people well beyond their prime who still have not settled on who they are; they're not comfortable in their skin, don't know what they want to be when they grow up, and they're like 40+...

What then?

Age and maturity is also only a portion.

Part of the purpose of marriage is to help protect us and help us live more fruitful lives.

I don't believe alone that any age, or amount of experiences can prepare you for what marriage reveals.

I believe that like getting your first car, marriage should be something our young ones are trained up and taught the basics, much life a driving course. It's our responsibility to make marriage appealing to our children through example.

Marriage along with children is a priviledge from God and is something that any parent should want for their children. It's not to be worshipped as others mentioned, but treasured.

Oh, and women do have a choice...

Marriage w/ the pleasure of lovemaking, children, and the submission to God through submission to her husband

singlehood w/o sex, children, and complete devotion to God's will, which is powerful and no less than marriage and motherhood.

Choices...

Analytical Adam said...

Well I am 35 and I couldn't get married in my early and mide 20's because of the issues that I had and was only making $10 an hour and since then I can't go through everything but I really think a women who doesn't want to get married at 25 because of career will be the same way at 30 and 35.

I think this issue of BEING TOO YOUNG is just that the community at large has many disfunctional marriges and can't offer help to younger people which of course we got married when we are relatively young and we do need the help of people with more life experience but sadly that isn't there. So rather then having mature older people help the younger we have older people who act like children and don't want to help the younger who get married and then say well they are too young.

I just read one comment about a woman who got married at 21 which I think is great as I think women are the most fertile in their early 20's and they are fully developed but I just wonder reading this commment if she even discusses these things with her husband which is not good because it sounds she has all these idea's but doesn't get her husbands input on anything which I don't think that is good.

Also, just in terms of respecting girls you know girls have to respect guys as well it is not a one way street and it is wrong to turn it into a way street furthermore, a younger sister should respect her older brother just as an older sister should be respected somewhat by a younger brother.
To teach a brother to respect a sister but not the other way around is feminism and is wrong.

I really feel it terms of women being respected it is based on their behavior not on them being born a women which has nothing to do with any action on their part and the torah no where says this. It says you should respect the elderly and the wise but not a woman. I think respect has to be based on behavior just as it does with a man. I think this is feminism by the way when women they deserve respect just becaue they were BORN a women and I am frightened for young boys when women are so obsessed with being respected without earning that respect because if this is so I think the boys are going to be emotionally abused at minimum if that is the case. Women have to respect men too. It is a sense of entitlement to think because you were born a women you deserve respect. Some women do deserve respect and some don't.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with the poster Annie above who claims that Israel is a family/child oriented society.

The secular women here marry after they get a degree, but still in their mid-twenties. The average age here for a woman to get married is 25.2 years, and for a man it is 27.6 years. Babies usually follow within a few short years. The birth rate here is much higher than in Europe and the States.

You see babies and kids everywhere in Israel, so while many young women don't have personal experience holding a baby before they have one (I didn't), pregnancy and babies are still a very visible, dominant part of society.
Tammy

L said...

AnAdam - can't recall anyone making such assertions of women or men on respect. Something on your mind? I think, and suspect most women commenting here will agree with you. Most if not all have alluded to needing maturity and more than just domestic skills to be elligible for marriage. Bethany Hudson, only the second commenter, put it (I think) rather well: "This will mean that our daughter will not be involved in a relationship with a young man until she is emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually ready to take on the tasks of being a wife and mother within a couple of years." Not an exhaustive list, but I think certainly includes respect. The ladies here are rarely feminists, and if you'll notice, Anna has an article in the right margin of her homepage entitled "The Dangers of Feminism". You should hang out (and read) more here. You might be encouraged. (And feel free to use some more punctuation)

Linda said...

My husband and I married when I was 'only' 19.... and our daughter was born when I was 'only' 20.. but it has worked out brilliantly for us.

You know what I find funny? When I look at 'profile sites' (like myspace) I see old school friends who are still partying, relationship-hopping, having no clue what to do with their lives and practically living like they were still in highschool.. (only with beginning beer-bellies and hair that begins to fall out)and yet we have this wonderful little family and are actually building a future..

Oh yes, but of course everyone said WE were the crazy ones ;)

greetings from the netherlands ;)

ladyakofa said...

Right on Anna!

"Are we doing enough in order to prepare for marriage and family life from a young age?"

That's an insightful way of looking this issue!

Hope you and baby girl are well.

Gothelittle Rose said...

A thought about maturity at the teen years...

I am fascinated by vines and have spent a lot of time watching them grow. Something I've noticed about the more fast-growing/invasive ones is what happens after a few years of growth. They become wooded.

This year's or even last year's growth can be easily twined, retwined, trained, redirected, without damaging them. But try it closer to the root, and you'll find that it's wooded and breaks if you try to force it out of it's kinks.

It used to be that young girls were not expected to find their spouses completely alone, without the benefit of knowledge and experience from parents, extended family, the church, the community... But it doesn't matter as much as Western We're-In-Love Society thinks it does. Most couples with similar belief systems and no abusive vices can become a very tight married couple.

The trick is to start when you ARE young, when the vines are tender, and let them wrap and twine and form around each other so that when they are wooded years later, they're wooded together into one unit. That also saves you the trouble of letting yourself stiffen up in whatever random paths you happen to take in singlehood and then go searching for a guy who has stiffened up in a compatible manner.

The truth is that you don't HAVE to "find out what you're going to be like" before you can make any big decisions. The decisions themselves and your reactions to them change what you develop into.

I believe it is fine, perhaps even best, for a young man and woman to twine together while they are still fresh, young, and, yes, even a bit immature. That way your spouse is an intricate part of your adult development, and when you've become less flexible, at least you're already twisted to accommodate each other.

MarkyMark said...

I find it interesting that doctors say that a woman's prime childbearing years are between ages 18 and 25. That should tell us something. 18 to 25 is not too young to be married.

Ka-ka-kaboom! Civilla drills ANOTHER one!!

Sara said...

Hi and I'm enjoying your blog! Thank you for this post!

I got married at *gasp* 17. We will have our 11th anniversary this year and we have five children. Getting married young saved me from a lot of the sins that young adults fall into. It wasn't a huge deal to us to live on a budget. We didn't come into the marriage with large amounts of debt. I didn't have some career that I had invested a lot of time in that made God's vocation for me as a homemaker more difficult to embrace. I could go off on the benefits forever but the biggest one is that it made me grow up. The typical "extended adolesence" is absolutely ridiculous, and it makes it where even when people do get married and have kids, their priorities are all messed up.

The main "downside", other then people's opinions, has been financial stress. But we were raised with your typical feminist, two-career household upbringing and converted from that a few years into our marriage. Had we been raised with that and could have planned during our engagement for it, it would have been a lot easier. Out of all the consequences for not approaching marriage with God's design (although we were Christian, we had no concept of marriage as a vocation, of parenthood as part of marriage, etc.,) financial stress is really a relatively minor one, even though it doesn't feel like it at the time!

Mrs. Lindblom said...

I got married at 18, to a man who had courted me from the age of 15. So many people thought I was making this huge mistake but, 5.5 years and two babies later, many of those people now are telling me how "lucky" I am.
When I got married, I didn't even know how to run the washing machine! I wasn't raised to be a homemaker... it's something I've developed into. Now I'm a blessed stay-at-home wife and mother and I love it!
I plan to teach both my children (and however many more come along) about the wonderful, satisfying and rewarding job of homemaking.

Jennifer said...

Well, I was married at 17, had my first child when I was 21, my second child when I was 23, and my third at 27. I have now been happily married for 11 years. I would NOT change a thing!

Stephanie said...

Civilla,

"if a 17 year old girl gets pregnant out of wedlock, nobody seems troubled about that."

I really don't think that's true at all (at least, in my younger adult and american experience). Sure, a teenager deciding to get married is talked about (so rare now) - but a teenager pregnant out of wedlock? I've seen many more of those cases, all of which were spoken of in terms of, "Oh, how sad! She's ruined her life." It's the same story in the eyes of the public, with or without the parties involved being married...

Michelle Potter said...

I married at 21, and was not nearly mature enough or ready for marriage, as evidenced by the fact that my 5 month old son attended the wedding. Fortunately marriage and motherhood have taught me so much, and I have grown up quite a bit, and love my life and my family.

For my own three daughters (and my four sons!), I am not as concerned about the age that they marry as I am that they are mature and prepared to live adult lives at least by 18. If my daughter is a mature adult at 18, ready and capable for husband and children, but God does not bring her a husband until she is 40, I will be happy. But if she is self-centered and immature, chasing after her own happiness, I will be disappointed, married or not.

As for the poster who asked if these young girls are being given other options, it *is* my dream that my daughters remain at home, spending their time in useful and Godly pursuits until God provides them with good husbands to care for them and children for them to raise. But I've had to face the fact that my 10yo daughter already doesn't share this dream, so I've had to change my focus, instead praying (and teaching her to pray) that she will grow up to fulfill His plan (whatever it is) and not just my pride. It's a very hard thing -- what mother doesn't want her daughters to follow in her footsteps -- but I've had to accept that it's not about me. Or, really, I am having to accept it. I don't know, maybe she will be a stay-at-home-mom like me, maybe not. Regardless, she will still be better served by knowledge of domestic skills, a heart to serve others, a confidence in God (not in herself, but in God's working through her) and a mature outlook than she would be by encouragement to date around, put off responsibility, and "find herself."

The Author said...

I echo your sentiments.I , being in my teens, am in the process of preparing for marriage and my future housekeeping, and it is so encouraging to read these articles.
Thank you,
Emuna

Rachel said...

I enjoyed reading your thoughts on this subject.

I was married at 17. And now my dear Tommy and I are celebrating nine years!

Practically, I was prepared in many ways. I knew how to run a household, for example.

In other ways, I was still 17, dewey-eyed and immature in areas.
But my husband and I truly loved and cared for each other, and we "grew up" together a little.

17 was perfect timing for me! Most of my girlfriends did not get married until a few years later. Some are still unmarried-and not because they aren't ready, but because, sadly, no man has seen and appreciated their truth worth.

I agree, there is a tendency towards selfish living in our culture. Marriage isn't given the honor, respect, and preparation it deserves.

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm. Much has been said here. Anna, this was a really good article, and I appreciate that you stand for what you believe in!

Some people have said that marriage and motherhood should not be the only options given to young girls, and in a way they are right. But we must face the fact that marriage is almost certainly going to be a feature in anyone's lives - that is simply a part of the flow of life. People get married, and have children, who grow up and get married and have children, etc... Doesn't it make sense to prepare for the most basic element of life? (And I don't mean just girls! There seems to be a serious lack of enthusiasm for training young men to be husbands and fathers.)

What I have always wondered is, why do people react with such intense anger at the idea of a woman marrying young and staying home with her children? As if it were a trap of some kind! And why is it only considered ensaring for women, and not for men? When a man and a woman marry they both become tied to responsibilities that they will never be able to shake off, whether it be housekeeping and changing diapers,or holding down a steady job and making those endless house payments. Why is it generally believed that diaper changing and child-rearing is less glorious than construction work or engineering? Personally, it seems, from my female perspective, infinitely more fulfilling, and more powerful, to be daily molding a little life, than to be daily trudging of to the endless struggle of the work force. But generally speaking, anything that pertains to wifehood and motherhood is somehow viewed as irrelevent, a waste of an intelligent mind and a beautiful body, and that is wrong. We are women. Our bodies are DESIGNED for motherhood. It should be viewed as normal, healthy, and worthy to pursue, and yes, we should spend a lot of time and energy preparing for the duties of wife-and-motherhood, just as men should focus on preparing to be good husbands, fathers, and providers.

Anonymous said...

Isn't becoming and wife and mother also about self-fulfillment? I've never understood why some mothers set themselves up as some kind of paragons of selflessness. They aren't just propagating the species out of a sense of duty are they? Some women want to make it to the top in their chosen profession; some women want to have a family. I see no distinction in the motivation behing these things. It's about self-fulfilment.

~ Lindy ~ said...

Excellent post....well written and I'm with you 100%!

~ Lindy ~ said...

anonymous would be correct if it weren't for the values that some hold dearer than others. because i'm a believer in God and HIS plan and will for His children, i value family and distinct roles for men and women. everyone has their own set of values, but this explains the distinction, i think, between the two different 'goals' and motivations behind the goals.

Lanae said...

Wow! Thank you so much for posting this! SADLY....i was one of those girls who did NOT want to do anything around the house. Very selfish, but i was also never lovingly taught. But after an event that changed my life forever, I am now a happy homemaker and mother of 2 with a 3rd on the way. I still struggle with keeping a wonderfully clean house but my DH is so wonderfully loving and patient with me. I have been truly blessed. AMEN!