OPINION: Is getting married early a good idea?


It seems like every other week, my girlfriend is coming up to me and telling me that a colleague or a friend of hers just got engaged. Sometimes, she notices an announcement on Facebook that a high school acquaintance of ours has decided to tie the knot. They are almost always a college-age individual in a relationship that is relatively new, maybe a year or less.

My girlfriend and I always have the same reaction: disbelief, amazement and disappointment as we shake our heads in unison.

We want to be happy for these individuals. For many, marriage is wonderful; it is a powerful realization of a couple’s strength or a sign of their dedication, commitment and love. It is for these precise reasons that marriage is not something to be taken lightly.

My girlfriend and I have been dating for five years. We met in high school, and our relationship has so far been one of the most important aspects of my life. We have a strong relationship, and I expect we will continue to have a strong relationship as we move forward. The road to where we are now, however, has not been without bumps and obstacles.

We don’t fight very often. Usually, minor squabbles arise from a misunderstanding and are worked out quickly. Relationships are not all fun and games. They require time, effort and hard work. They require communication, understanding, maturity and a willingness to compromise. Even after five years of dating, we’re still learning and accepting new things about each other.

I say this because it’s important to know that it took time. I also mention this because some of the things we learned about each other were a really big deal, and we didn’t learn about it until two or three years into our relationship. Fortunately for us, most of these were things that arose were things we agreed with, understood about each other or discussed until we did.

What would you do if the person you were married to had a core belief that was opposite of your own? These kinds of issues will most likely come to light after you have been dating for awhile. Old secrets will surface, and both people in a relationship will begin to learn a lot about that other person. You simply don’t know enough about someone to be marrying them after a year or less of dating.

While this argument applies to almost anyone, it especially applies to college students. Many of us are trying to figure out who we are and where our place is in the world. Most students are starting to attain independence from their families and to build their academic, professional and social identity. To be frank, college students in general, are not fully formed. We’re still growing.

The divorce rate is beginning to decline because couples are getting married later, according to the June 21, 2011 Chicago Tribune article, “Delaying the wedding, helping the marriage.” The October 2013 U.S. Department of Labor article, “Marriage and divorce: patterns by gender, race, and educational attainment,” showed marriages were more likely to end in divorce for those who married younger.

I still think it’s incredibly worthwhile to attempt to look for someone special to marry if that’s what you want. Furthermore, college is a great place to do that. A Facebook data study found that of the study participants, 28 percent of married college-graduates attended the same college.

Marriage is just too much to deal with on top of school, and for many it’s too early to be making a decision that big. Many couples split for legitimate reasons, but because they moved too hastily, what would have been a normal breakup is now an incredibly expensive and drawn out affair. With student debt as insane as it is (another article for another time), college students have too much on their plates financially. Divorce costs will only add to that.

According to a May 30, 2013 Huffington Post article, titled, “How Much Does the Average Divorce Really Cost?” the cost of getting a divorce is almost the same as it costs to get married. Divorced couples should expect to pay attorney’s fees, court costs and mediation costs. If there is a home or any property involved, you can expect to pay things like refinancing costs and record deed fees.

I just can’t justify why getting married in college or early on into a relationship is a good idea. If you truly love someone, if they are truly the right one for you, then they’ll still be there five or 10 years down the road. Getting married early just isn’t worth the potential risks involved.

Collin Weaver is a sophomore in mass communications.