it to a Utah couple
By Rachel Katseanes
December 15, 2006 | After moving to Utah I started
to notice that many of my peers were either married
or engaged to be married. I was in complete awe because
I had just barely graduated high school and was leaving
home for the first time. I still felt so young and immature
and couldn't imagine being married. I came to college
thinking that it was normal for people to wait until
they were at least graduated from college to get married.
But when I got here, half of the people I had met my
freshman year were already engaged by second semester.
After further investigation, I discovered this was
not just my own observation. In 1998, Governor Michael
O. Leavitt and First Lady, Jacalyn S. Leavitt launched
the nation's first Governor's
Commission on Marriage in Utah.
The findings state the median age at first marriage
in Utah is 21 for the bride and 23 for the groom. The
median age at first marriage in the United States is
25.1 for the bride and 26.8 for the groom. In the year
2000, 17.6 percent of the brides married were less than
20 years old. People in Utah get married at a much younger
age in Utah than in other places in the country.
"Too many Utahns rush into marriage in hopes of achieving
everlasting happiness," said Jane Koerner, program director
for Utah State University magazine. " Overly idealistic,
they fail to realize that it's your work ethic that
makes a marriage endure."
96 percent of Utahns believe that young couples focused
too much on the happiness they expected from marriage
and not enough on the hard work required for a successful
marriage. Subsequently, 83 percent of Utah adults thought
too many couples rush into marriage.
Not only have I noticed the young age which people
get married in Logan, but I have also noticed the extremely
short duration of time they date before they get engaged
and married. Often it seems as though people don't even
genuinely know who they are marrying because they don't
have time to truly get to know them. This is concerning
because Utah actually has a higher divorce rate than
the nation as a whole. Possibly people's marriages aren't
lasting because they don't really know who they are
dating. Also, they aren't mature enough to know what
they are really getting themselves into, and don't know
how to handle tough situations that come with being
married so they opt to get a divorce.
When Utahns were asked possible reasons why their
marriage failed, lack of commitment was the top response.
But a significant number of the respondents felt their
failed marriage was partially due to marrying at such
a young age. The likelihood of Utahns being divorced
was greater with the early age at marriage. The divorce
rate may be higher than older people because they are
typically less mature and less prepared to handle the
responsibilities and commitments of marriage.
"Also, their preferences and standards for a mate,
as well as their own characteristics that determine
their desirability as a spouse, may not yet have become
Another concerning fact is that Utah also has the
rate of bankruptcy in the nation. Perhaps it's because
young adults are rushing into marriage and starting
to have large families right away. They are too young
and haven't learned how to budget and take care of a
family, which obviously can lead to bankruptcy.
So now the question is why? Why are so many Utahns
choosing to get married at such a young age? Part of
the explanation is that a significant number (57
percent) residents in Utah belong to the Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
John Morley, a returned missionary attending the University
of Utah says, "LDS theology infuses marriage with a
great deal of significance- it's a prerequisite to salvation.
Additionally, many LDS people see family and children
as critical parts of a full life. Far from something
to be postponed or avoided."
The LDS culture places such importance on getting
married and starting a family that young adults in Utah
see no reason to wait. Many people that didn't grow
up in this culture, and then move to Utah for college
have culture shock and don't understand why people are
getting marriage at such young ages.
Alaina Scoffield, an out-of-state sophomore, said
she was shocked how young couples get married in Utah.
"When I moved here from Virginia I was very surprised
at how young everyone was getting married," she said.
"One of my roommates was actually engaged after her
first two months of college and married after four.
I don't understand why people want to get married so
young when they still have so much of their lives ahead
of them. Your married for your whole life; why is everyone
in such a rush?"
I guess no one really knows Utah couples true motives
for getting married at such a young age. Many of them
do it because of their strong religious beliefs. Others
just do it because they feel they have found true love.
Either way, they are trading in being single to be married
very early in life, whether that's a positive thing