Will my college or university studies or early career be any different if I marry at 20 years old?


Everyone’s experience is different. Whether you’re attending a college or university, or are starting a career, a host of different factors can affect what your individual experience will be if you get married at the relatively young age of 20.

In a survey conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics in 2008, about 18 percent of 20,928 surveyed students said they were married. Though it’s not particularly common for students to get married at a young age, the results of this survey demonstrate that a significant minority of students are getting hitched as they pursue their studies.

There’s one difficulty that young married couples face regardless of whether they’re in college or working, however. Experts say those who get married when they’re 21 or younger, they are more likely to become divorced. In fact, some research says people who get married before age 25 are twice as likely to get divorced as those who wait until they’re older. Maybe people are able to sense that it’s better to wait, because they do tend to wait until they’re a bit older; the average age to marry in the United States is between 26 and 28.

There are a variety of reasons why marriages at a young age tend to be more tenuous. Economics plays a big role — younger people usually have not advanced as far in their careers, and therefore don’t make as much money as people who advance further in their careers before marrying. Students especially can face economic hardship as they delay careers to focus on their studies, earning money instead from part-time jobs or work studies. That’s if they choose to work at all, as many students live off the proceeds of student loans. The stress that comes with financial hardship can put a lot of stress on a new marriage.

Keep in mind that marriage takes a lot of work. Good communication is key to any relationship, but can be particularly crucial for a marriage to succeed. Communicating effectively takes time — and time may be at a premium if you’re also spending a lot of time studying for college or university courses, or if you’re working late hours at a new job.

The commitment that comes with marriage makes a difference as well. When you’re dating in college, it’s easy to walk away from an argument — the two of you can just head back to your separate dorms or apartments, cool off, and reconnect the next day. When you’re married, that’s not possible. You live together and you may have to work harder to work through any issues. Having good conflict-resolution skills is key.

However, living together comes with benefits. For one thing, you’ll always have someone who supports you — someone to talk to, and someone you can talk to about all the stresses of the day. In more practical terms, the two of you can share the cost of housing and other shared costs, which may be particularly beneficial to college students who have limited incomes.

On the other hand, wanting to spend time with your spouse can distract from your studies if you’re a student. If you’re starting a new career, you may be expected to put in extra work to show you’re up to the task. Though a 40-hour work week is typical, you may be expected to put in additional hours until you’ve “proven yourself.” Working long hours can potentially put a strain on your relationship.

On the flip side, because married people typically put such a large effort into communicating with each other, they gain valuable communication skills that can be applied to other areas of life, such as a career. The communication skills one gains from their marriage can be applied to the interpersonal communication skills that are so essential to an effective workplace.

Whether you are a student or are starting a career, you can make a marriage work. But dno’t rush into anything. Consider the strain marrying so young may put on your relationship, and make sure you have adequate support systems in place if you decide to follow through with the marriage.

written by Steven Evans on Sept 21st 2017

photo by Eric Alves from unsplash.com

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