in Utah get married too young--my
roommates and I plan to resist
By Sarah Reale
When Derek walked in on his
wife Adison with his best friend Mark, he moved to Seattle
and fell in love with Meredith. When Meredith slept
with Derek she didn't know he was married. And when
the Chief slept with Dr. Grey, he knew she was married,
and he was married too.
Thursday nights at my apartment are
more commonly known as Grey's Anatomy Nights. This popular
television show started its third season this September,
and according to Wikipedia, brought in 25.14 million
viewers for the season premier. Viewers are enthralled
in the adulterous, scandalous relationships and the
term "'until death do you part" on Grey's Anatomy is
more of a flexible statement.
Every week a bunch of girls in Utah
sit around and watch Grey's Anatomy, but how they perceive
marriage is far different than how it is displayed on
television. The minute the majority of girls from Utah
graduate from high school they have one goal in mind:
"I am from California; getting
married was never a big deal where I'm from, and almost
all of my friends from high school are single still,"
said Chelsea Spath, a recent Utah State graduate. "But
when I came to Utah it seemed like everyone was talking
about it like it was some kind of competition."
Now that Spath has graduated she
is pursuing her doctorate in audiology at the University
of Utah. "When I tell people that I am getting my doctorate
they seem impressed, but they always seem to bring up
the inevitable question: so are you dating anyone?"
According to Utah marriage statistics
the median age at first marriage in Utah is groom: 23,
bride: 21, and the median age at first marriage in United
States is groom: 26.8, bride: 25.1.
"If I would have married the
guy I dated my freshman year, it would have never worked
out. I was just not ready; I had so much growing up
to do," said Spath.
It's no doubt Utahns are getting
married young, and before they are ready. According
to the same site, Utah's divorce rate is higher than
the rest of the nation. Utah's divorce rate is 4.3 per
1,000 population, where the United States divorce rate
is 4.1. And 18 percent of divorces in Utah occur in
the first year of marriage. Even though they aren't
all committing adultery like Grey's Anatomy, they are
finding themselves in failing marriages.
"I just feel like I have been
pressured since I started school in Utah. All of my
friends are married and most of them have kids," said
Spath, "I just don't feel like I'm ready to get married,
and I don't feel like I need to anytime soon. I'm only
22 years old."
Some adults get married before they
have even lived on their own. Their first experience
living outside of their parent's house is married life.
This extreme adjustment added onto all of the new living
arrangements and waking up to someone new next to you,
can make any little fight over finances or cleaning
escalate into a gigantic argument.
"I have a theory. You should
see someone every season of the year. People change
when the weather gets cold and warm, and if you can
date someone at least through an entire year, hitting
every season and you still feel like you should get
married, you will probably be okay," said Spath.
Pepper Schwartz, Ph.D., is the leading
expert for PerfectMatch.com, author of Everything
You Know About Love and Sex Is Wrong, and answers
relationship questions online at www.lifetimetv.com.
When a 19-year-old asked her how long she should date
someone before they get married, she replied, "First
of all, at the age of 19 you shouldn't be thinking of
marrying anyone. You have so many adventures ahead of
you. Besides, by the time you're 22, you and your beloved
probably will have outgrown each other."
Schwartz continues by saying, "When
you think about marrying your beloved, you should feel
a giant yes echoing through your heart, body and brain.
If one of you isn't ready yet, talk about it."
"I think people in Utah are
so worried about not getting married, they settle for
the first thing that comes around," said Spath.
The pressures to get married in Utah
are high, and those that are over 21 and not married,
feel like a unique minority. There is even a group on
the online college network, Facebook, called, "I am
21 and Not Married...or On a Mission!"
Schwartz also added with the advice,
"Marriage is a serious commitment on so many levels.
It's vital to start sorting out your concerns and issues
before you plunge into getting married. Don't go into
it thinking that everything will work out. That's how
divorce lawyers earn all their money."
All my roommates don't plan on getting
married before we graduate, which is this spring. Although
we will, religiously, watch Grey's Anatomy every week,
go to class and sit next to the cute married guy that
has three kids, go to all of our friends' wedding showers,
and watch all of our closest guy friends date freshmen.
"I think getting this far,
living where I'm living, and not getting married is
just fine. I think it is an accomplishment. I know ten
years from now I will have accomplished all I wanted
and I will be successful,'' said Spath.