I walked down the aisle at age 22. I am 29 now. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median age for a woman to enter her first marriage was 27 in 2015 (29 for men), so I was definitely younger than many of my peers when tying the knot. Marrying early can be considered scary or unrealistic for some.
I didn't feel I was too young for marriage at the time. This is probably because I was born and raised in the Deep South, where it's more common to marry young. However, the more I moved around – spending several years living abroad, as well as in Virginia and New Jersey – the more I came across people who were surprised at my “early” marriage.
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True, most married couples I’ve met waited until their late 20s at least before marrying. Of course, there are benefits to marrying later in life. A recent article in Money magazine argued that you’ll be more financially stable if you do so.
I have to wonder, though, if there's more to a marriage than just being financially stable. Is that really the goal?
Or should the goal be to look beyond stability and instead search for financial compatibility? After all, two people can be financially stable and still have an unhealthy relationship. One person could be bringing all the money in and controlling how their spouse spends. So stability might not be the best measure. I think we need to look beyond that and consider how our financial wellness at the time we tie the knot affects our marriage.
For example, if I married my husband now, I’d be a completely different person financially. For one, I’d have more income and education than I did at 22, and so would he. Because of this, would I be as willing to combine accounts? Would I be more controlling about his spending? Would I feel like I was being suffocated after so many years of being on my own?
I guess I’ll never know, since that’s not how my story goes. What I do know is that marrying early made money talks easier for me. It's honestly one of the reasons I believe I have a strong marriage. While my experience with money and marriage might not be the same as everyone else who marries young, here are some reasons why I think it can be an asset:
1. You’re Broke to Begin With
When you’re young, the only way to go financially is up. When you’re right out of college, you can be staggering under student loan debt, and probably don’t have a big salary. So you don’t buy a house right away. You don’t get a new car. You keep buying used furniture. Marrying early can often even out the playing field.
The great thing is, your spouse is likely not doing much better either.
Raise your hand if your parents ever talked to you about the old days when they were just starting out and lived in a tiny apartment? There’s a reason people look back on their starter homes and younger days with wistful expressions on their faces. It's easy.
Life is just a bit less complicated when all you have is your life to look forward to, knowing that if you just work hard enough, you’ll eventually better your financial circumstances.
2. It’s Easy to Combine Accounts
My husband and I still laugh about the day we combined accounts. We went in together and sat with our banker who took money out of both of our accounts and put it in a brand-new joint account.
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The total amount in that new account was $200. Needless to say, it was pretty easy to combine accounts that day.
If we joined accounts today, I can see how that might feel more complicated, especially if one person had considerably more money than the other.
3. You Create and Celebrate Financial Goals Together
My husband and I have made so many financial mistakes in the past six years. But we’ve also had some great financial wins. We’ve gone from being completely broke to supporting each other as we grew in our careers. We increased our incomes, and reduced our debt.
For some reason, getting married so young and working on our financial goals together made all the wins that much better. Now, I’m looking forward to what our future holds. Again, I’m not saying that getting married young is for everyone. But in many cases, I believe it can be an asset and can help build a healthy, strong marriage for the future.
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