Women’s News: Marry Young? HuffPost Editors Sound Off On Whether Women Should

A groom kissing his bride's hand. Image shot 2007. Exact date unknown.

Over the last week, thousands of words on the Internet have been dedicated to discussing the topic of marriage — specifically the ideal point in a woman’s life for her to marry, if there is one ideal point.

Princeton alum Susan Patton argued in a letter-to-the-editor published in The Daily Princetonian on March 29 that women (or at least Ivy League women) should be searching for husbands on their college campuses, which elicited a wholeseries of responses. And on April 1, Julia Shaw wrote an essay on Slate about her marriage at age 23. She argued:

Sometimes people delay marriage because they are searching for the perfect soul mate. But that view has it backward. Your spouse becomes your soul mate after you’ve made those vows to each other in front of God and the people who matter to you. You don’t marry someone because he’s your soul mate; he becomes your soul mate because you married him.

 

We asked the female editors in our newsroom — some married, some single, one engaged — to weigh in on the question. Should women be getting married young? And is asking that question problematic to begin with?

Annemarie Dooling, Senior Community Editor, age 29:

At a bridal event in Manhattan, a smiling Sylvia Weinstock told me, “There is no perfect time to get married. You get married when you are in love.” That was five years ago, the weekend after I got engaged. Three years later, I finally tied the knot with the man I’ve been with since college. Why did it take me so long to finally set the date? Sylvia may have been right that there is no perfect time to get married, but there is a perfect time to make substantial life plans, and romance aside, there are a lot of logistics that go into creating a partnership in the new millennium. 

I would have been content to play house for another eight years if not for family and peer pressure. The Slate article maintains the opinion that you need to walk down the aisle to have a life partner, and that just isn’t true, regardless of age, but it does take a certain amount of life experience to figure out how to be half of a whole.

 

Brie Dyas, Senior Editor, HuffPost Style and HuffPost Home, age 28: 

Darling, I couldn’t even commit to a decent hairstyle at that age, let alone a husband. And considering my taste in men at the time, I think it all worked out for the best. (Unless you want to be Mrs. Directionless Member Of A Hardcore Band.) Like developing a palate that appreciates a fine wine, knowing what you need in a lifelong partner takes time … but the process is so fun in hindsight that it seems unfair to rob someone of that experience.

 

Shelley Emling, HuffPost/50 Editor, age 50:

My husband and I eloped when I was 28 and he was 24. Was that too young? We’re still happily married 22 years later. At the time we got married, many of my friends said they were in no rush to tie the knot. They wanted to build their careers, make their own way, see the world. Today many of those friends are still single. It might sound like a good idea to “live a full life” before getting married — and certainly it can be — but it doesn’t always work out the way you want it to. In other words, you can’t decide “when” you are going to fall in love. It can happen when you’re 18 or 23 or 49 or 80. If you’ve found the right person, you’ll know it. And you shouldn’t be afraid to get married. The nice thing about getting married in your 20s is that you and your spouse grow up together (and hopefully not apart). My husband and I have gone through family deaths and job transitions and children — and our relationship is the stronger for it. I’m happy he saw me in my 20s. I look forward to seeing him in his 80s.

 

Emma Gray, Associate Editor, HuffPost Women, age 25:

I’m over being told when I should or should not marry. Between Susan Patton’s unhelpful advice about finding a husband on your college campus and Julia Shaw’s essay about how she got married at 23 so we Millennial women should all get on that ASAP, enough is enough. The women I know think enough about their current and future love lives without being made to feel as though we’ve missed some invisible deadline if we’ve failed to commit for life to one person by our mid-20s. 

I have friends who have gotten married, friends who are engaged, friends who are in relationships, friends who are not in relationships but want them and friends who don’t care about ever finding a lifelong mate. Each of these women has thoughtfully considered the decisions which she has ultimately made. My married friends did not get married because they felt that they had to or that it was fundamentally better to legally partner-up young, but because it made sense for their lives and their specific situations. There are also many valid reasons for why young women stay single — many of which boil down to the fact that they simply haven’t met anyone who they want to marry. Making those of us who aren’t wifed up at age 22 or 25 or 28 feel guilty or “less than” accomplishes nothing. We’ll make the decision to get married when it feels right and not a minute sooner. Marriage may have “jump-started” Julia Shaw’s independence, but there are a whole lot of ways to feel adult without a ring on your finger.

 

Meredith Melnick, Editor, HuffPost Healthy Living, age 30:

Excuse me for harping on a small point, made so early in Julia Shaw’s Slate essay — what amounts to a long-winded anecdote of a happy relationship — but I think it illustrates the central problem of this essay: It’s an enthusiastic attack on a straw man. 

Nobody is arguing that a healthy, supportive marriage is a bad idea. Shaw found the “true gentleman” she wanted to marry early in life, [and] that’s great. But it doesn’t mean early marriage is the answer for the rest of us. Or that the alternative to an early marriage is an isolating and unsupported early adulthood: All of my job turmoil and existential angst and varied 20-something emotional neediness was attended to by a phalanx of wonderful friends, boyfriends, loving parents and a kickass brother. There’s nothing wrong, as Shaw seems to imply, with looking for help and love elsewhere.

And God am I glad I didn’t marry the guy I was dating when I was 23. It isn’t that I don’t think fondly of that time — he gave me the twin things I longed for at that age: to be listened to and to feel like a grown-up. We lived together, we pantomimed a marriage and played house and then we realized that we were just getting to know ourselves and that actually, we wanted to live very different lives. So I left for grad school — no paperwork, no awkward family reunions, just a small feeling of loss and a big feeling of possibility.

I’m not saying my path was better than Shaw’s — simply that it wasn’t worse. And, while we’re chatting, perhaps we can agree to stop telling each other what to do.

 

Lily Avnet, Intern, HuffPost Healthy Living, age 24:

What’s with the fascination [with] women and their relationships? We never pay this much attention to men and the tumultuous dating world they face en route to marriage. While all of these pieces provide various insights into personal encounters with the search for a mate, they come off sounding pedantic, when they’re really just personal opinions, experiences and beliefs. It’s nice that this young woman has settled down at 23. It’s great that women get married whenever they want (or not at all). The issue isn’t that women get married too young or too late (or not at all), it’s that the media continually suggests there is some looming threat to women; that women can’t be married and have a job; that settling is good or bad; that there aren’t enough eligible men out there; that marriage and children are the road to happiness. 

Just because Julia Shaw got married at 23 doesn’t mean that’s the right decision for everyone.

 

Ann Brenoff, Senior Writer, age 63:

Marriage-readiness isn’t a developmental milestone that everyone reaches by a specific age or else we call in the medical specialists. While babies probably should be walking by age 3, not every Millennial should be walking down the aisle by 23. Marriage is a commitment to not just the person you marry but to the idea of being married — and I don’t see many 23 year olds ready to make that commitment so early in their adulthood. 

But I also don’t think all the planets need to be aligned before you marry; you needn’t wait until you have your dream job, enough money to buy a house, or have sold your mobile app design to Apple before you proclaim yourself “ready.” Marriage, like the rest of life, requires adjustments along the way. So probably the greatest thing you can acquire before you take the leap is flexibility.

 

Lisa Belkin, Senior Columnist, age 52:

I had always planned to be a young mom. My mother was — she married at 20 and had me at 22 — and, growing up, I’d liked that she was young. I intended to do that, too. 

And then, one day, while riding in a cab home from work, somewhere around Lincoln Center (funny the details you remember) I realized I was 27 — which made it rather difficult to stick to my plan. As it happens, I met and married my husband within the year, had my first son just after turning 30, and still don’t quite understand why I am older at every milestone of my children’s lives than my mother was at mine.

And yet, that was as it should be. For me. In my particular life. I was not ready to make life choices any earlier. I needed to know who I was before I could commit to someone else, and that took awhile. I also think that however wonderful a match I might have made at 22, I would have chafed and outgrown it, wondering what I might have missed by choosing too soon. That’s another version of knowing yourself — being confident that you can be on your own, so that being with someone else is a decision, not a default.

Read More:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/03/marry-young-huffpost-editors-discuss_n_3000235.html?utm_hp_ref=women&ir=Women?utm_hp_ref=women&ir=Women

 

 

Comments

  1. Marry when you meet the one you cannot imagine living without. Whatever age you are. I met my hubby at 19 we married when I was 22. We celebrate 20 years in 2016. not marrying him would have been the worst possible mistake. follow your heart!

  2. I have pressure to marry but I just haven’t met Mr. Right.

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