The young and the engaged

Azka Khan

Despite high divorce rates, young marriages are rising

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 63 percent of people between the ages of 17 and 23 support the idea of marriage before the age of 23. PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY ABBY FISHER

Credit: Jason Hall

On Christmas 2006, in the midst of tearing wrapping paper and laughing with delight, Christina Anthony found a ring box.

“On Christmas day, he asked me to fix him a drink.he was being very specific on which drink he wanted and he kept making me reach back in the cabinet until he finally said, ‘Was there anything else in the cabinet?'”

There was: a platinum ring with a small, high set oval-cut diamond.

When she found the ring, Kevin Costelnik, her boyfriend of two-and-a-half years, popped the big question.

Anthony, a 20-year-old junior journalism major, said she was elated.

“I was screaming, jumping up and down and crying,” Anthony said. “It was adorable.”

Against the odds

According to U.S. Census Bureau statistics marriages before the age of 25 have a 60 percent divorce rate. Yet the number of young marriages in the United States has increased 50 percent since 1950.

Young marriages are widely accepted by society, especially among young people. A recent survey found 63 percent of people between the ages of 17 and 23 support the idea of marriage before the age of 23.

The trend of marrying young has many critics pointing out the divorce rates among these marriages.

“I think that the statistics are correct, but I think it’s about people who don’t know the responsibilities that come with marriage like I do,” Anthony said. “You can’t go out and party because you have to concentrate on family and building your house.”

Donna Lambes, a 19-year-old junior middle childhood education major, is engaged to junior physics major Ron Dear, 22.

“It doesn’t scare me to hear (the statistics), but one of the good things about a long engagement is by the time you get married you actually know the person,” Dear said.

Support systems

Both couples’ families are supportive of their relationships.

Anthony’s family and friends saw the proposal coming – Costelnik, 30, had asked her father for permission.

“My mom was pretty excited,” Anthony said. “My older sister, Jodi, was the only one that said, ‘Be careful and make sure this is something you want to do and make sure you make your own decisions.'”

Lambes’s family was similarly excited. She said she knew she was making the right decision because Dear respected her family and took the time to get to know them.

“He respects my whole family, especially my little sister, who means the world to me,” Lambes said. “They go on their own little dates – it’s so cute.”

Working it out

Many psychologists warn against getting married at a young age because it is believed that younger people know less about the reality of marriage.

“I didn’t think that I would get married this young,” Anthony said. “But when I first started dating him, I knew he was the one I wanted to be with. Our first couple dates were so out of a storybook and we would never run out of things to say to each other and just talk for hours and hours.”

Three months after their first date, Costelnik was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and began chemotherapy.

“I moved in with him to help him do things he couldn’t do anymore,” Anthony said. “I’ve never lived with anyone besides my parents, so dealing with that and the cancer was kind of hard but it really helped to solidify our relationship.”

The relationship became more time consuming and serious, but Anthony was still focused on other aspects of her life.

“I still have every intention of getting my master’s and doctorate degree,” Anthony said. “I’d love to teach history.”

Contact ALL reporter Azka Khan at [email protected].