Skip Nav
18 Sex-Filled Films to Stream on Netflix
Politician Swimsuits Are Here to F*ck Up the Beach — and We Can Already Feel the Bern
Why Life Wouldn't Be So Magical If Disney Princesses Were Millennial Women

You Asked: Is Marrying Young a Bad Idea?

Dear Sugar,

My fiance asked me to marry him almost six months ago while on a trip to Disney World after five years of dating. He hadn't told anyone and we waited to share the good news until after we had returned from our trip. Since we are young (I am 21 and he is 23), both our parents expressed happiness for us but enforced the importance of me finishing school. As the months have gone by, his mother has begun to express her disapproval of us getting married at such a young age. We have mentioned to her that the wedding would not be for another year and a half, at which point he would be turning 25 and I would be turning 23. But whenever my fiance is not around, she decides to have little side talks with me, telling me not to be in such a rush and to consider waiting another four years before getting married! She says things to make me feel as though I'm holding him back from bigger and better things, and she's made it clear that she has little faith in me finishing school, even though I am highly motivated and love what I am studying.

No matter how much we express our love and respect for each other, I can't seem to convince her that the wedding will not lead me to forget about school to start a family. How do I handle a controlling mother-in-law-to-be? — Ready to Wed Rach

To see DearSugar's answer,


Dear Ready to Wed Rach,

I can understand your parents' hesitation with you two getting married at a young age, but knowing that you've been committed to each other for five years already should ease their concerns a little. I also think having a longer engagement is a good idea so planning a wedding won't interfere with your school work. As aggravating as your future mother-in-law may be right now, understand that in her mind, she's just trying to look out for you and her son.

Times have changed when it comes to marriage. While it was the norm to marry young during your parents' generation, most couples wait longer today, but that's not to say that your young love isn't as special or won't last. If marriage is what truly feels right for you and your fiance, carry on and push back on those who are doubting you. Be sure to tell your fiance about his mother's comments and her behavior toward you so that you're not having to deal with her negativity on your own. You can't do much about what other people think about your relationship, so use your fiance for support and trust your heart. I wish you luck!


Join The Conversation
hissing-fauna hissing-fauna 8 years
Psh...don't worry about finishing school while being married. it's called birth control! Studying, and going through school is a lot easier married anyway, that's what I've found out. However, everyone is different for some people getting married young is the right decision and for others it's not. I hate being judged when I tell people I'm married. Oh, but your so young! (I'm 22). It's a personal choice and I wish people were a little more accepting of it. Go for it, and don't let anyone else change your mind when you know your doing the right thing, they'll be glad when you are happily married!
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i think that people need to realize that #1 if you've been together for a long time, then you know the person and it's not like you're rushing into something. i also think that #2, it's 2008 - some people get married young and some wait until they are 40, so there's really nothing to say that it's ok or not ok. i think that parents want to make sure that you're not putting things to the wayside by getting married, but it's not like getting married will keep you from going to college or getting a job or living life. it just means that there's someone there who will always love you unconditionally and sometimes that's even better since you have someone to give you moral support when you need it most .
lexichloe lexichloe 8 years
There will always be a wide variety of norms when it comes to this topic. I dated the same guy for 5 yrs. before saying any vows. I do think it's important to experience life. By saying that, I don't mean experiencing diff. partners or relationships. It's just that we all evolve after traveling, learning things, and being on our own. If the two of you are in love, go for it. If you have any doubts or hesitations...WAIT. You're really young, but so were most of our parents when they tied the knot. I'm glad I did it the way I did. But you know what's best for you, if you feel it, I wish you luck.
K-is-For-Kait K-is-For-Kait 8 years
Awww.. mommy can't cut the umbilical cord! I think you should be talking to your fiance abou what his mother is saying to you when he's not around so that you two can sit down with her and address her concerns in a mature way. While it's tempting to just tell her to go screw, assuring her that you understand her POV and respectully disagree will help. Age cannot be the determining factor in a marriage. It's all about the maturity and personalities of the individuals rather than their age. Ys, some young marriages fail, but so do plenty of marriages between late 20-somethings and 30-somethings. People can change drastically at any point of their lives, so "we've just changed so much" is almost always the case. The important part is that you can compromise and change together, no matter what your age.
katysoup katysoup 8 years
I got married just a few weeks before my 19th birthday. We'd been through a lot in the year and a half we'd been together before we married. It included boot camp, which is three months of nothing but letters. Every relationship is different. Age shouldn't matter. Also, it's possible to plan a wedding while still in school. It's also quite possible to be married while in school..I don't see how that has anything to do with it.
geebers geebers 8 years
I don't know about anyone else but I was definitely way too immature and not ready to marry at your age. I am only feel secure now and I probably won't get married until I am 30. At that point I will have gone through most of the getting to know him phase with my BF and we will settle into marriage nicely. But you have been with him for 5 years so I cant speak for you.
jessie jessie 8 years
heres another one...i got married at 19...still married 12 yrs later! :) i'm not gonna give a long speech here...just do what YOU and HIM want to do. go with what feels right to you two. learn to smile and shake your head and let it go in one ear and out the other...
graylen graylen 8 years
I don't really think that anyone should get married before 21, but that's just me. I think anyone who is older than 21 can verify that you become a totally different person in the time frame of 18-21. Though a lot of people get married really young and it works for them and they love it, I feel like I am more capable now of being in a mature, adult relationship than I ever was at 18... and I was a mature, super-responsible 18 yr old. I strongly believe that you should develop as a person first, couple second and I feel a lot of that developing and changing happens at that age. My personal beliefs also make it really important to me that I be able to support myself fully before joining in a union with someone else, i.e. be out of college with a job, paying all of my own bills, etc.
awkwardturtle awkwardturtle 8 years
my parents were 21 when they got married and are still together and happy today..
ps! - i agree with ericajane! i have and will do the things she and her husband have done, but you don't have to be married to be committed and responsible! (okay, except for buy a house with some one!) these things are just part of being an adult in a serious relationship.
they're right, it's not about age...but it is about lifestyle and choices. people who marry older have more of a chance to make it because they have more life experience to know what they want. you can't go into marriage without agreeing on where you want to live your life, if your schedules/careers coincide, morals/beliefs, kids and how to raise them, how you want to spend your money, the list doesn't end. these things are what's important in a successful marriage (on top of all the emotional stuff! :) ) and the thing is, what you think you want at 20 can be completely opposite at 30. i am in a 5 year relationship and i would love for it to result in a happy marriage, but i know that would be way down the road. i would hate to get married right now with nothing and try to build a life with some one just to find out five years later that we want different things in life. it's my life and my choices and my husband needs to share the same goals. it's a mess to get divorced - on top of the heartbreak! i'd rather not get married until more of my life unfolds. but i stay devoted and committed to my boyfriend. we weather the storms together just like any married couple.
EricaJane EricaJane 8 years
you don't have to have lived through the civil war or survived on rice and wheat for years to know if you are ready to make a choice.. sure you don't know the person you'll become at 30, just like the person you'll become at 40,50,60,70,80 or even 90. Things could change, people change, you don't know what lies before you, but for many of us, we are willing to commit to the unknown with our partner. My husband and I are celebrating our first wedding anniversary (five and a half years together), and I'm under no illusion that things would be different if we had met and married later in life.. different, not necessarily better. We want to experience those important life experiences together, rather than apart. We've lived in Spain, dealt with deaths, graduated from college, bought a house, become independent and responsible, all while being side by side. I have to say that it's a personal decision, and the argument that you don't know yourself well enough to decide that until you're in your thirties is just an opinion.
Sun_Sun Sun_Sun 8 years
its hard to generalize when it come to marriage, because it really depends on the maturity of a person. most 20-something guys i know are definitely not marriage material! but thats not to say that ur fiance isnt. im thinking thats what has ur mother in law worried. she might think "hes still a baby". in any case, i agree that u should let him know how his mother expresses her concerns when he's not around and that its overwhelming for u to take it all in on ur own. good luck :)
Gabriela14815884 Gabriela14815884 8 years
I married my husband when I was 21 and he was 24. We had been together for 4 yrs at that point. My mom was happy for us but his parents were less than thrilled, we didn't let it get to us. You should definitely tell your fiance what's going on so that he can talk to his mother but in the mean time don't feel the need to defend your relationship or explain yourself to your MIL.
chatondeneige chatondeneige 8 years
I'm with Dear Sugar on this. My parents got married at 21/22, after being together for four years, and they're celebrating their 40th anniversary of their first date this month. My best friends' parents went to high school together, started dating senior year (same as my parents,) and married three years later. They've been married 33 years. So I have faith that couples can last, even if they marry young. The fact that you're marrying young, but you've been together since you were 16/18, indicates to me that you two have been together through some of the early changes in life - think of how different you are now from who you were when you were 16! If you two can continue to change and grow together, I have complete faith in your chances. :) You two need to support each other, so keep your fiance informed on what's going on with his mother - even if he doesn't want to say anything to her, he should be a source of support to you. Good luck, and congratulations on your engagement!
lickety-split lickety-split 8 years
yeah, it's a bad idea, but it's no ones business but yours and your fiancees. personally i think the next time your future mil starts on her triad i'd say something like "look, i'd hate for you and i to get off on the wrong foot. it's important to us that our families be part of the wedding and supportive of our marriage. please understand that there will be times when our choices are different from what you might wish they were, and please respect that." when your man comes back in the room say "i was just explaining to your mother how excited we are about starting our lives together". which should be code to him (because you will have told him before hand) that his mom stirring the pot. then it's his turn to tell her butt out.
DCRoamer DCRoamer 8 years
I do think that marrying a bit later gives you a chance to experience some things that you wouldn't otherwise experience (living alone, dating, etc.) and for that reason I am glad that I didn't find the right person when I was 20. But, you have found the right person and it would be silly to wait until some arbitary date until you are deemed old enough. What I would suggest is that you make it a point when married to keep some independence in your life - finish school, get hobbies, work, and take mini-vacations with your girlfriends. If you have one of those relationships where you have no hobbies and interests outside of your marriage, then you may well find that marrying young was a mistake. But if you both resolve to keep some independence, I think you will be fine.
thelorax thelorax 8 years
I agree with Dear's answer. And I'm sorry about your mother-in-law!! She probably means well, but that would be very frustrating. I definitely recommend finishing school first, because things really do change once you're married. Your priorities shift and you have new responsibilities that never even occurred to you before. That being said, I had just turned 23 when I got married, so I was young too - but it was the right time for me, and I'm very happy.
fleurfairy fleurfairy 8 years
I think people married young in the previous generations because they were more mature than our generation is today. They went through wars and Depressions and the high and lows of life that we young people in 2008 just don't have to deal with these days. So by the time they were 20 years old, they had seen it all and they were mature enough to handle marriage and children. I think our generation today is very coddled and sheltered, generally speaking. We've never seen a war fought on our land, we've never had to line up at soup kitchens to get dinner, we've never seen our brothers and boyfriends and friends drafted into war. It's a totally different world these days and I just don't believe that most people younger than 28 have the maturity to be married.
Berlin Berlin 8 years
Really hun, she's probably wanting you in her son's life and her's too! But far too many couples' marriage ends in divorce and postponing the rushed marriage will only help strengthen your foundation of what you have to build upon. MANY adults recommend waiting (as do I and I'm only 22!) because they know the importance of dating and boyfriend/girlfriend and the engagement and so many wish themselves that they either had someone tell them to hold off or that they had listened when said people had. Don't be in a hurry to be married b/c once you are, you will never date YOUR HUSBAND again. Cherish the little steps b/c once you hit marriage, there's nothing beyond that. And while yes it is a wonderful thing, it also is something that *should* be for life, so why not enjoy the little stones on the journey to it. Don't think of it as she's trying to push you away or apart, she's just concerned and trying to give you advice that she pretty much knows you'll be secretly wishing you'd taken down the road.
LikeThoseShoes LikeThoseShoes 8 years
oh... and screw the mother in law. if you know youre focused in school and truly love this man and really want to do this then do it! you make your own choices. good luck dear!
lauradom lauradom 8 years
Age is nothing but a number. Some people are ready to settle down and get married at 20, some at 30, some never. I was married at 22, owned a business with my husband at 23, kid at 26. We're still together 10 years later with 2 kids, still work together, been through some hard times and everything, but we're still fine, never considered breaking up or anything. Other friends of ours don't understand it at all, but we just understand each others neurotic tendencies and still get along fine (for the most part). We both also got our partying out of our systems pretty young, and were ready to settle down and be grown-ups when we did. If you think you're ready, go for it. Don't let other people hold you back or make decisions for you just because of their own beliefs or experiences, everyone handles things differently and everything depends on the individuals involved.
LikeThoseShoes LikeThoseShoes 8 years
i dont think so. my parent got married when my mom was 20 and dad was 19... they have been together almost 30 years and I have never really seen them fight. they def have me believing in love.
pharm_chick pharm_chick 8 years
i got married when i was almost 19, and actually, i really love it. my hubby is a little older, (im 22 hes almost 31) but he looks and acts younger so its all food. as for in laws thank god ive been very blessed with good inlaws so its all good.. if you guys know each other well enough and and feel like youre compatible then go for it! =D
Mesayme Mesayme 8 years
:ROTFL: not that I could go back in time... LOL I meant I wouldn't advise anyone to get married younger than 30ish unless you and he are very clear about who you are, what you want and you agree on at least 95%.
The Most Important Thing About Your Wedding
Why Ina Garten Chose to Not Have Kids
Anniversary Aviation Shoot
Trick For Sneaking Snacks Into a Movie Theater
From Our Partners
Latest Love
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds