Is 22 Too Young to Get Married? The Scoop Years Later!

Jan. 22, 1994 on a snowy, cold morning, I was 22 years old when Mat and I married.

Have you heard that 60 is the new 40? People are living longer than ever, so does that mean you should wait later to get married? According to recent data, marrying in your early 20s is actually a good idea!

It is not too young to get married at 22. When young adults marry, statistics show they enhance their quality and quantity of life. Marrying as young adults is good because you have less baggage, can learn together, have a long life ahead for building your future, and it makes sense financially.

Now decades later, I look back at my 22-year-old self and shake my head, at my naiveté and at all I didn’t know. Yet, I was smart enough to make the best decision of my life at this time, too. When I said ‘I do’ to my husband, Mat, I said ‘I do’ to a life I wouldn’t change for anything.

What it Means to be 22 Years Old

Thinking way back to what it means to be 22 is a stretch at this point in life. After all, I was twenty-two 26 plus years ago. But I’m reminded a bit by the words of today’s most well-known pop singer, Taylor Swift, who wrote a song entirely about this age.

She said, it feels like being, “happy, free, confused and lonely at the same time.” Later, she goes on to explain, “it’s miserable and magical, oh yeah.” I guess these don’t seem like words of a rocket scientist, but they do encapsulate the conflict of emotions!

And I can relate to that!

A Brief Look Back at 22-Year-Olds

A young soldier in the Vietnam War

During most of the 20th century, men and women were considered adults at 22. We had two world wars, along with Korean and Vietnam wars, by 1970. Then there were the wars on terrorism in the early 21st century. All of these wars were built by the labors of young men and women.

As well, in the 1950s, most men were married by age 23 and women at age 20. They were just starting their adult lives, with mortgages and jobs to support their new families.

In the 1980s, young adults were either college graduates starting out their careers by age 22, or had already been working several years in their career field right out of high school. And by end of the 20th century, almost half were homeowners.

Now, Today’s 22-Year-Olds

The majority of today’s 22 year olds still live ‘at home’ with their parents. With rising housing and unemployment rates, it is arguably more difficult for 22-year-olds to make it out on their own.

However, according to this report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics most 22-year-olds have worked an average of 4 jobs at this point in their lives. The crux of this is that 57% of these jobs ended within a year.

Though more women than men have college degrees by age 29, less than half of either sex are enrolled in college at age 22 according to these statistics.

Growth & Development of 22-Year-Olds

Though much has been said about the prefrontal cortex underdevelopment of the adolescent brain (here’s my article that briefly addresses the subject), this in-depth study found that by the 20s, brain development has stabilized, with most of the brain changes beyond infancy occurring between ages 13 and 17.

Another study found that people in their early 20s have much of the same brain function and ability as people in their late 20s. As well, another interesting find in this same-mentioned-study is that brains of 20-somethings have the most development in the areas of controlling impulses and emotional responses of any other adult stage.

Suffice it to say that our brains are in tip-top shape in our 20s and have many years to continue before the rate of decline starts! In other words, our brains are quite adult and fully capable for marriage.

Accomplishments from 22 Year Olds

A Millennial Job Interview

Today’s 22-year-olds are categorized as millennials. Millennials are those born between 1981 and 2000. By definition, their characteristics are listed as narcissistic, self-absorbed, lazy, whiny, and entitled. However, they are also considered the most civic-minded generation, as well as most educated, tech savvy, and entrepreneurial.

It’s quite the conundrum!

Although CEO Ryan Harwood advises 22-year-olds in his Fortune Magazine interview, “Quit bragging about your accomplishments,’ it’s not to say that you can’t accomplish worthwhile things in your youth that are worth bragging about (just let the accomplishments speak for themselves).

Let’s look at some remarkable achievements of notable persons from history made by the age of 22, in no particular order of significance.

Jean Piaget22Earned his Ph.D. and published 20 articles which would be the foundation for much of psychology ideals today
Augustus Caesar20Famed/Infamous Roman Senator who would later be considered the founder of the Roman Empire and its greatest leader
Joan of Arc17Turned a war around for France that would later lead to their independence; although she was put to death by the English at age 19, she was eventually found innocent, labeled a martyr, and canonized a saint.
Blaise Pascal19invented the calculator by this age
Phillis Wheatley20was the first female published poet to have been born into slavery
Alexander Hamilton22was an aide to General George Washington at this age; he was instrumental in the fight for US independence
Marquis de Lafayette19sailed from France to help the American colonies win independence; he is partly responsible for French support to the American rebels.
Mary Shelley20had her book, Frankenstein, published
Galusha Pennypacker20appointed brigadier general, the youngest in US history
Malala Yousafzai17won the Nobel Peace Prize
Nadia Comeneci14first ever gymnast to score a perfect 10 at Olympic gymnastics, and she went on to earn 7 total that year
This table outlines some of history’s greatest achievements met by those before age 22.

So is 22 too young to get married? Well, it looks like it’s not too young to invent, write, vault, or lead a people to victory! Though marriage has never been deemed a cake walk, surely it isn’t harder than fighting a revolutionary war or overcoming slavery!

6 Reasons It’s Good to Marry at 22 (or in young adulthood)

As someone who married at 22, and is still married 26 years later, I have lived all the many reasons to marry young. Here are my top six.

Reason 1 to Marry at 22: Adulting Together

Marrying in early adulthood benefits you and your spouse because you grow and learn together. I don’t think anyone in their later years (me being almost 50 puts me in that group, sigh) would argue that you don’t learn, grow, or develop throughout adulthood. But just because your experience grants you wisdom in your ‘old age’, that doesn’t mean you aren’t an adult in your 20s.

Together, you and your spouse will face life’s challenges and your wisdom will grow. It’s a fun transition- when you’re not going through it, that is. As you enter new phases of adulthood (i.e. your 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, and so on), you earn those battle scars together and it brings you closer.

Reason 2 to Marry Young: Less Baggage

When you get married young, you have less baggage overall, let alone to bring into the relationship. Those who wait to marry most often have many heartbreaks and losses, sometimes even children, they carry into the relationship.

The newly married have enough challenges to face without the added stress of ‘baggage’. In the literal sense, we know that a lot of baggage puts undue burden on your shoulders. You can’t do as much when you carry around lots of baggage. You easily tire and get frustrated.

In the figurative sense, the ‘baggage’ of prior relationships, children, or even other life stresses like job problems, that didn’t involve your spouse, is a huge obstacle for your marital partnership.

We all have this abstract baggage, but the later you wait to marry, the more you accumulate and the harder it is to leave it at the door when you enter marriage.

In this clip, Dr. Phil illustrates the figurative baggage in relationships while he counsels a couple.

Reason 3 it’s good: Ease of Living Together

Most who marry at 22 years old, or in young adulthood, haven’t lived long or even at all ‘on their own.’ They haven’t acquired their own home living eccentricities; they don’t have many daily/single living habits to annoy a partner.

For example, if you have spent 20 years living on your own, you are quite accustomed to your house being a certain way. From furniture choice and arrangement to where you keep your toothbrush (inside or outside the medicine cabinet), you are pretty much set in your ways.

It’s quite jarring to learn to live with someone after you’ve spent so much time simply doing it your way.

Young and marrieds don’t really have that issue to overcome. Perhaps they had college roommates, so there’s a bit of cohabitation in their background. But for the most part, they haven’t lived life long on their own before living with their spouse.

For me, I went straight from my parents house to living with my husband when I was 22. Of course, there were adjustments. We had to figure out where to put the toothbrushes and which side to face the toilet paper, but we decided that together. We hadn’t invested years of doing it our own way!

Reason 4: Ignorance is Bliss (not knowing what you don’t have)

One of the best things about marrying young is that you don’t know any better! This sounds kind of silly, but in reality, it makes perfect sense.

When you’re young, you haven’t yet had too many doors slammed in your face and you haven’t had too many failures. You aren’t jaded yet. Those rose-colored glasses are still pretty ‘n pink!

In this regard, you’re quite ignorant about all the reasons things shouldn’t work.

For example, my husband and I moved across the country (with children) early in our marriage. We were filled with hopes and dreams for our future, and had the energy to chase after them!

We didn’t know all that we’d face, the problems yet to come. Had we known ahead of time about all the problems we were going to face, well, we probably wouldn’t have packed the mini-van and set off.

But it all worked out! And because we did it together, it made our marriage stronger.

Reason 5 it’s good to marry at 22: Shared History

One of the best reasons to marry young is that you get to build your life together. Yes, every couple who gets married thinks they’re building their life together but the earlier you marry, the more of that ‘life’ you get to build.

Does this make sense? Let me elaborate.

Because my husband and I married so young, most of our life now has been with each other. I have spent more years with my husband than I’ve spend without him. And the same is said for him. How’s that for shared history?

Because of this shared history- that it soon grows bigger and larger than your personal history- your marriage is stronger than it would have been had you waited and married each other later in life!

Reason 6: Nothing But Time

The final and sixth reason to marry as young adults is that you get even more time together! You get to be with your best friend sooner and longer than you would otherwise. So then, why in the world would you want to reduce that time?

When I was in high school, When Harry Met Sally was my favorite romantic comedy. Although today I don’t appreciate a lot that it depicts, the line at the end (shown in the clip above) is still one of the best movie lines ever portrayed.

Harry tells Sally (after wasting 12 years and accumulating a lot baggage) that “I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”

And this line truly embodies why it’s good to marry at 22!

Statistics Support Young Adults Marrying

So what do statistics tell us about marrying at 22? I think you’ll be surprised at the findings!

Well, first, let’s understand the changes over the years in marrying age. The median marrying age for both men and women has steadily risen over the years. It went from 23 for women and 26 for men in 1990 to 27 for women and 29 for men in 2017. Wow!

However, keeping this in mind, married 20 somethings consider themselves highly satisfied with their lives as opposed to 20 somethings not married, including those living with partners, according to this report from Knot Yet!

Statistics also tell us how money and marriage are connected. Contrary to what some might have thought, according to an analysis by the US Census Bureau, we’ve learned that men who married in their 20s are actually wealthier than men who didn’t. In fact, researchers found that in general, married men earn more than single men, too.

But early marriage benefits are not just related to happiness and money; a 2012 study from the Journal of Health and Social Behavior found that married men had less frequent drunken behavior and less association with alcoholism.

Let’s end our look at research with this quote taken from a study by renowned sociologists, Norval Glenn and Jeremy Uecker, published in 2010, which coincidentally is titled, Later First Marriage and Marital Success:

“We certainly aren’t advocating a rush to the altar, but if you feel like you’re prepared for that next step, go for it. Research says there’s no advantage to delaying marriage just for the sake of delaying it… Furthermore, delaying marriage beyond the mid-twenties will lead to the loss during a portion of young adulthood of any emotional and health benefits that a good marriage would bring.”

Our Story Marrying Young, Decades Later

This past year we enjoyed a trip to London with our children.

In 1993, I was 21 years old and met my future husband. Exactly five months after our first date, on January 22, 1994, we were married. Though a few scoffed at the urgency or wondered what’s the rush (it wasn’t a ‘shot gun’ wedding, I promise!), we both felt quite simply, just like Harry!

When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible!”

Of course, not everyone saw things as clearly! When my husband told the news to his grandmother (who was instrumental in us meeting, by the way), she responded-shockingly to us-“if I knew you were going to do that, I would never have introduced you!”

But we weren’t to be discouraged though! Despite our young age and the negativity we faced, as well as our meager finances (we both were college students at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville with very limited income), we had no doubts about spending our lives with each other.

In fact, we wanted to spend all of our time together and we wanted to start yesterday! It didn’t make much sense, unless you were ever in love. Then, you got it.

Of course over 26 years we’ve had our ups and downs. We owned and sold a house; moved across country and back again; worked many jobs and wore many ‘hats’.

We’ve had four children, with surprise twins in 2004 that doubled our family while seemingly quadrupled our expenses (how does that math work?!).

And I won’t tell you how many times we’ve moved in total because I’d have to use more than both hands to count them all!

To say life’s been difficult is an understatement. But to say we’ve been blessed is too!

Through it all, we’ve had each other. The history we’ve built together is long, deep, and immeasurable. It is also our greatest treasure!

Wrapping Up Is 22 too young to get married?…

No, you are not too young to get married at 22. Or at any young adult age. To recap,

  • Young adults are ready for life! They can fight in wars, publish novels, and make great strides in sports and technology. They are also able to marry successfully.
  • Statistically, married young adults are richer, happier, and healthier than their counterparts.
  • Young marrieds have less baggage and are less challenged to cohabitate.
  • The 20 something brain is a fully developed adult brain.

If you meet the right one, don’t let being 22 stop you from marrying! Likewise, if your child is 22, just smile and say, ‘congratulations!’

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