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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Say ‘I don’t’ to marriage

    Now is the time of weddings – church bells, long trains and open-bar receptions have replaced frat parties, bar hopping and lazy Saturday afternoons as weekend highlights.

    I have the dubious honor of knowing five couples that are getting hitched, but there is one problem: I’m only 22 years old and I am older than almost all the people in the weddings. These are our friends, our classmates, our study partners, and they have decided that they have fished the dating waters long enough, have found “”the one”” and are stable enough to live their lives together. There is only one thing to say to them: You are making the biggest mistake of your lives.

    You think you know the person you are marrying? Doubtful. Just during four years of college, many students evolve greatly from their freshman personas. Take, for instance, a National Institutes of Health report that found that the region of the brain that inhibits risky behavior does not even fully develop until the age of 25. Coming out of college, the brain is still developing and changing. Those rushing to marry are pledging themselves for a lifetime to a personality that might not exist in five years. The level of maturity needed to morally and religiously bind yourself to another individual is just not present in college students.

    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 50 percent of marriages that occurred in 2002 will eventually dissolve into divorce. “”We are leading hectic and scattered lives right now,”” said Ashley Buchwald, a junior majoring in family studies and human development. “”People should wait to make such a life-changing (decision) until they can invest enough time to enjoy their marriage.””

    Along with maturity, stability and security, are vital to a marriage, yet some of these people marrying young have never been financially independent. From living at home through high school to receiving a stipend or tuition check to cover college, most college students do not understand all the aspects of financial stability. They have never entered into complex contracts, they don’t have any savings and they’ve never even dealt with the horrendous tax code.

    The average college student graduates with $2,700 of credit-card debt, not to mention student-loan debt of around $18,000. In theory, a student who has worked through college or received scholarships could accumulate $20,000 in debt by simply saying “”I do”” to someone else who is in debt, completely decimating his or her financial standing.

    Getting married between 20 and 23 is not unheard of; actually, it was the norm in previous generations. But don’t think that makes it all right now; the members of those generations were leading very different lives than most of us at their age. College was not as common, and many started careers directly out of high school. By the time they entered their early 20s, many of them had lived independently and become financially secure.

    That window of a few years is vital to determining the rest of your life. At our age, marriage should be the farthest thing from our minds. Students should be focusing on careers, finances and entering the world outside of academia.

    Even though the threat of debt looms, some people marry for financial reasons. Instead of waiting until they are independently stable, they enter into civil unions for the benefits. Marriage allows spouses to share insurance and increases the likelihood of citizenship; it also gives couples the ability to create certain life trusts. To be sure, there are financial benefits to walking down the aisle, but they are not why people should marry. Marriage should be a union based on love and companionship, not tax breaks and visas.

    Creating independent financial stability is vital; doing so creates a safety net in case anything happens to the marriage. Imagine marrying directly out of school, then divorcing in four years. You would not have separate retirement, investments or even savings accounts to allow you to land on your feet.

    Why rush such an important decision? Waiting, maturing and stabilizing will do nothing but benefit your future. Marrying will only increase your chance of divorce and financial instability and stunt your emotional growth. Marriage will change your life; just make sure it’s for the better.

    Mike Morefield is a political science senior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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