Early marriage seems controversial for some, mature for others

Oh. My. Gosh. Madeline Paul is, like, totally getting married.

“Some people are really happy for me and others are like, ‘What? You’re in college. Why can’t you just have fun?’” the 22-year-old senior in LAS explained between sips of her blended coffee at Espresso Royale on Daniel Street.

Paul isn’t the only 20-something with marriage on the brain. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, 50 percent of U.S. women will have been married by the age of 25.

Paul’s fiance, Adam Keen, senior in Engineering, surprised her with an engagement ring over winter break. “Seriously?!” was her response. She asked out of astonishment and happiness, not because she thought it was a bad idea.

However, Paul often gets the impression that others have decided her engagement is just that.

“I always feel sad for people who get married younger than 25,” said Heather Faivre, senior in FAA. “They’re missing out on that time when they have freedom to develop into an individual.”

But Paul, who has a summer 2013 wedding date, ascertains that marriage is not something that will define her.

This concept of remaining true to her ever-evolving identity, even when married, was reinforced in the psychology major while studying abroad in Spain. Near the end of her time there, she learned that one of her Spanish teachers was married.

This surprised Paul and her classmates because the teacher wore no wedding ring and had never before mentioned her husband. When they asked her why, the teacher was equally surprised. She explained to her class that, although happily married, she and her husband are separate people.

“He is just who I am with,” Paul remembers the teacher saying.

The individuals happy about Paul’s engagement are those closest to her and who know her best. Nevertheless, even her dearest confidants will once in a while let a joke or comment slip that gets on Paul’s nerves.

“Sometimes I feel like I’m setting the women’s movement back by getting married,” she said.

“My friends and parents will make comments like, ‘Oh, you don’t need to worry about getting a job now. You have a cushion.’ That infuriates me. I want a career. I’ve always wanted a career.”

Some students think a career should come before marriage. Hyo Kyung Son, junior in LAS, is one of them.

Son’s parents got married early and ended up divorced. Because of this, they’ve pressured her to wait to marry until she’s in her 30s.

“The divorce rate in America is so high, and Americans get married so young,” Son said. “There has to be some sort of correlation.”

Will Hollerich, graduate student, recognizes that some people think marriage is not only risky, but also outdated. As a 28-year-old who has been married for the past year and a half, however, he believes the concept of two people committing their lives together is enduring. Not only that, but he thinks it’s educational.

“You learn what you’re like when you live with someone else,” he said, describing how living with his wife has allowed him to grow as an individual. “You have to give stuff up and learn better ways of doing things, and each person supports the other emotionally and in other ways.”

Instead of just living together long-term, Hollerich and his wife got married because they felt it was more of a commitment.

Although he thinks everyone should be free to choose the commitment of marriage, he believes no one should be pressured into it.

While Paul has never felt pressured to get married, she has felt pressured to remain single.

She met her fiance in high school and entered college with a serious boyfriend.

Paul watched as freshmen all around her broke up with their first true loves. Her friends teased her that her relationship wouldn’t last forever and waited for the day they’d all be single together.

That day never came.

“No one believed me, but I knew we were different and that we would last,” she said. “And as time went on, most people around us realized that too.”