How young is too young to get married?

A newly wed couple holds each other in the late afternoon…

Imagine knowing your teenage daughter has a boyfriend and you as a father have to be cool with that.

He comes around sniffing after her and while you really want to send him packing, you tolerate his presence for her sake and pretend to at least be civil.

You give her the warning about family planning and forbid her from bringing any babies into your home and pray that at least one of them has some common sense, if not restraint.

Then one day they come to you with a look on their faces that makes the bottom of your stomach sink to your feet and all sorts of warning bells go off in your head.

They cannot possibly have good news to share, so you brace yourself for the worst, only to be told that they intend to get married …soon.

After assuring you that she is not pregnant, you then wonder what all the mad rush is about.

After all they are both still teenagers and these are no longer feudal days when a girl becomes a bride at 13 and is considered an ‘old maid’ at 18.

There are so many factors to consider before people even think about tying the knot and believe it or not, love alone does not conquer all and sometimes is not enough to sustain a relationship. While it should be the nucleus of any union, many other things need to be in place before couples say “I do” or soon they will be saying I don’t.

In Jamaica, the legal age for marriage is 18.

At this age your parents cannot legally prevent you from jumping the broom, but at 18 why would you even want to?

You have not yet lived your life and cannot determine that the person you are with now is the person you will want 5, 10 or 15 years down the road. If you consider how much you grow and experience each passing year, you will realise that by age 25, you will have a plethora of experiences that would have moulded and shaped you as an individual.

When you look back at your journey, you will just say “wow”. Therefore how can you be sure that the feelings you have for someone at 18 or 21 will be at the same level of intensity down the road? You may discover that their morning breath bothers you, that you do not like the fact that they are not ambitious enough, or that they have settled for a job that has no prospects. 

Your youth is about experimenting and exploring. Getting married at an age where you should be getting to know yourself means that you will also be watching someone else grow and two immature people making adult decisions can be stressful.

While women mature pretty fast when forced to, men on the other hand may rebel when faced with situations they feel they have no control over. That is why it is not recommended that people marry too early, as later on they may start wondering what they missed out on and start acting out.

The teen years and early 20s is a time to date, not so ideal for settling down, because you may very well end up ‘settling’ and that is the last thing any young person wants to do.