Hope exists for ‘campus brides’

Michelle Poje

In the next several months, my life will change dramatically.

First, I will become a college graduate, just before I become a working journalist. Then, in October, I will make the biggest change of all.

I’ll become a wife.

At 23, I was surprised to find that I am not the only one to head straight from the college classroom into wedded bliss. According to the latest reports from the U.S. Census Bureau, “campus brides,” as we are called, are on the rise, with 25 being the median age of a first-time bride in the United States.

I was even more surprised when I conducted my own research through the ever helpful Facebook.com and found that the majority of married students and grads on the site were born in 1982, the same year as me.

I was unaware of this young marriage trend. Many of my friends are unattached and planning to stay that way until they are settled with a job and a home of their own. Others are moving on to graduate school or internships in other states.

And their views on young marriage are fairly negative.

“You’re too young,” one of my friends whined. “Once you’re married, all you’re going to want to do is stay home and clean.”

Yes, it’s true. The minute that ring goes on my finger, I’m doomed to a life of washing floors and knitting. Thank goodness I was warned.

In actuality, more women are getting married early in order to have more time to spend with their husbands before having children. They also feel they can have the opportunity to save money and plan out their lives.

But early marriage does have its flaws. Divorce rates are higher, with brides 21 and younger making up 80 percent of the divorce rate. Establishing a career is also an issue, for most people are changing jobs and getting settled upon graduation.

However, young married couples can find success both in the marriage and in their careers. And their lives don’t have to end either, as my friend so eloquently put it. Many of us are eager to start families and begin planning for the future now. Why do we have to wait until we’re almost 30 for it to be acceptable?

Marriage author Susan Shapiro Barash sums it up nicely in the Modern Bride article when she says that young couples are often inspired by their parents’ and grandparents’ generations of young marriages and fewer divorces. Considering my fianc‚ and I both have non-divorced parents who were all under the age of 23 when they got married, I consider this point to be fairly accurate for us.

Couples are also learning that life doesn’t have to follow a regimented path of school-career-marriage-kids. Plenty of working mothers encounter children first and career second. Plenty of married men and women enroll in college to continue their education or start a new one.

Getting married young doesn’t mean you throw your career or innocence or life away. I encourage people to open their eyes and be more aware of the fact that young couples can have successful marriages.

As a young bride-to-be, I plan to set that example.

Michelle Poje is a senior newspaper journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].