Editor's note: MisCONceptions is a column with four contributors. This article was written by Katherine Brown.
I didn’t think I shared anything in common with Millie Bobby Brown until recently. As someone who also got engaged at 19 and announced the news with a Taylor-Swift-captioned Instagram post, I’ve encountered pushback when people discover I’ll be married this summer. And I get it. The average age of marriage has skyrocketed from our parents’ generation to now by about six years. Although conservatives are more likely to be married, and more likely to be married young, marriage rates around the country are declining. I felt the need to pitch why you should consider marriage now.
Firstly, marriage is better for increasing both economic stability and mental health. Shawn Grover and John Helliwell of the Vancouver School of Economics in Canada analyzed data from just under 350,000 participants in the U.K. and found married individuals were happier than their peers for extended periods of time. “Even after years the married are still more satisfied,” Helliwell said in a release. “This suggests a causal effect at all stages of the marriage, from pre-nuptial bliss to marriages of long-duration.” The benefits are predominantly seen amongst married women with children. Married mothers aged 18–55 have a mean household income of $133,000, compared to $79,000 for childless, single women aged 18–55, according to data from the U.S. Census’ American Community Survey. Furthermore, 33% of married mothers from ages 18–55 say they are “completely satisfied” with their lives, compared to 15% of childless women aged 18–55, according to the American Family Survey. Additionally, the Brookings Institution indicates married families are significantly more likely than cohabiting families to have increased stability and more positive results in their children’s behavior, social development, educational attainment and cognitive development, among other parameters.
Secondly, if you continue on to graduate college, you’ll already be in the most successful group for strong marriages, according to the Pew Research Center. Men with at least a bachelor's degree have a 15% higher success rate than non-college educated men and women have a whopping 38% higher success rate. If you’re concerned about your marriage failing, graduating from college means you’ve already achieved one of the largest indicators of success when it comes to marriage.
Finally, much of the dissidence between conservatives and liberals is the issue of when they get married. Conservatives are much more likely to be married before age 26 and thus see marriage as a ‘cornerstone’ whereas liberals are more likely to see it as a ‘capstone.’ Those on the right tend to build their lives around marriage and grow together, hence why they have children at a younger age on average. Conversely, liberals are more likely to see marriage as a final achievement once they’re already established in their careers. The Institute for Family Studies shows ‘cornerstone’ marriages are more beneficial for emotional wellbeing. Building a life around a marriage enables you to be happier, have children at a younger, easier age and allows the two of you to grow together in your lives. I believe it’s much easier to build one life together than combine two lives later.
We’re adults capable of taking on tens of thousands of dollars in student debt, serving in the military and even running for office. We’re not ‘college kids’; we’re young adults who are already making serious decisions about the rest of our lives. Dating for marriage is something that is okay to want. That should be a reasonable request at our age and raising our standards should be not only allowed, but expected. I don’t know how well Millie Bobby Brown’s marriage will go, but I know I’m wishing her all the best and I’m glad she’s setting an example of marrying young.