The rapid increase in the number of early marriages over the past several years coupled with the extremely high rate of divorce within this same group makes this subject extremely important.
If you are a teenager and are seriously considering an early marriage, these are a number of potential problem areas of which you should be aware, so that, if you do decide that this is the best course of action, you will be alert to the possible difficulties which could lie ahead.
First, the problem of adequate financial support is obvious. Although money does not buy happiness, it is true that a tight financial situation can create tensions which can undermine an otherwise happy relationship. While some financial problems are to be expected in almost any new marriage, it is important to take time to think sensibly, so that such problems will not destroy what could otherwise be a beautiful relationship, if not undertaken prematurely.
This is not to suggest that you wait about marriage until every possible financial problem has been completely solved, but rather simply suggests that you do not close your eyes to the real situation whatever it may be.
Talk with other young couples who have been married for several months to get a more realistic idea of the financial problems you are likely to face. It is unfortunate, but true, that what sounds like a lot of money to you now, may seem to be very little when monthly bills must be met.
It is also a good idea to realize that if parents or in-laws are depended upon too heavily for financial support that this can provide the basis for other later family conflicts as well. Regardless of the good intentions involved, it is almost always true that the person who controls the money ultimately rules the situation.
Although some newly married couples find it necessary to temporarily make their home with their parents, this is generally not a wise choice unless absolutely necessary and then only for as short a period of time as possible. (Genesis 2:24). The old proverb which states that "no house is large enough for two women" can also apply to other members of the family as well. Not only does this type of arrangement tend to produce family conflicts, but the lack of privacy also tends to make early sexual adjustments much more difficult, thereby producing an atmosphere which can lead to far more serious problems in later years.
A second problem which must be faced by those who enter into an early marriage is the problem of personal maturity. While immature and irresponsible actions may sometimes seem funny before marriage, they can become serious pitfalls within the marriage bond. This is one reason why a courtship of at least several months should precede any marriage, since even the most irresponsible and self-centered person can put on a good front for a few weeks or months.
Two keys to the real personality of a young man are, first, the kind of things it takes to make him angry, and second, the way he treats his mother. With only extremely rare exceptions a person who mistreats his mother will after marriage soon also be finding equally plausible sounding excuses for mistreating his wife. Don't let anyone fool you, regardless of all the promises which may be made, the habits of a lifetime are very hard to change. This same principle, of course, holds equally true for a young lady as well.
One of the surest signs of immaturity and irresponsibility in both young men and young women is a lack of willingness to do a reasonable share of work in a consistent, dependable way prior to marriage. When such an indifferent attitude is demonstrated before marriage, you can be sure that it is only likely to become worse after marriage.
A third potential problem to be considered is the problem of growing apart. This simply means that while two young people in their middle teenage years have much in common, that in many cases, our ideals and goals change as we pass the teenage years, to such an extent that we may easily find ourselves married for life to a person with whom we will ultimately have very little in common.
Perhaps the worst mistake of all is to marry simply to get away from an unpleasant situation at home. Even if you are presently facing home problems which seem almost unbearable, you will not have to remain in such a situation forever. When you marry, however, it is for life. (Matthew 19:3-9). So don't let current personal problems drive you into a marriage which you may otherwise not really want. Such a choice usually proves to be a very poor trade indeed, and one that often leads to a lifetime of regret.
The extremely high rate of divorce among those who marry early should act as a large caution sign to those contemplating an early marriage. Sometimes early marriages work out beautifully and if you decide to marry at an early age, you may very well be among them. Those which have been successful, however, have almost always been those which have been entered into only after very serious thought and consideration. If you are a Christian, you need to spend time in prayer and meditation before reaching a final decision. If you are not yet a Christian, a right relationship with God would be a valuable asset to you in reaching such an important decision.
Early marriage, though possessing certain inherent dangers, is widely practiced in contemporary America.
By way of discussing the dangers of early marriage, may I point out that true love is the only basis upon which a successful marriage may be constructed. (Many happy marriages are made, they do not just happen.) One problem here is a proper definition of love. "Love is a dynamic that seeks the highest good of its object, regardless of sacrifice or suffering." In Ephesians 5:25, Paul says: "Husbands love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave himself up for it." True love would therefore dictate that one not subject one's loved one to undue sacrifice and suffering due to one's own lack of preparation and ability to provide adequately for them. While money is not the basis of a happy marriage, it can be allowed to become a prominent factor in the dissolution of marriage.
After seriously considering the potential problems mentioned in Part I of this two part series on Early Marriage, if you still feel that an early marriage is your best choice, or if as a very young man or woman, you find yourself already married, there are a few basic, simple, scriptural rules for marriage, which can help you in making your marriage happy and successful.
Marriage, by scriptural definition is: "The blending together of two lives, two personalities of the opposite sex for as long as the two shall live in this world. It is the building of a home that respects the law of God and protects the morals of mankind."
Marriage is sanctioned by Jehovah God and is to be had in honor among all men as you may observe by reading Genesis 2:18-24. God said: "It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him." (Verse 18) Adam then said: "This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: She shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man" (Verse 23) Moses then added: "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh' (Verse 24). Marriage, in God's divine plan, is monogamy in form, (one husband for one wife) (I Corinthians, Chapter 7, verse 2). It is procreative in design, (Genesis 1:28; 1 Timothy 5:14); patriarchal in government, (I Timothy 2:13; Ephesians 5:23); religious in spirit (Deuteronomy 6:4-9); and is intended to be indissoluble in nature (I Corinthians 7:39 and Matthew 19:6).
Three distinct purposes are served in God's divine arrangement of marriage:
If you will keep these simple rules in mind and remember that marriage is a serious business because God is its author, it is a life lasting contract and it involves the rearing of a future generation, you can have a happy, successful marriage.