Sixteen years ago, my niece discovered she was pregnant at fifteen. Being in the South, and not believing in abortion, she and her then sixteen-year-old boyfriend married and had a baby. Keep in mind the changes and challenges that having a baby puts on the most stable and normal of marriages. Keep in mind that teenagers, for the most part, are clueless on things like responsibilities and commitment.
Now, look at today. This young couple has three wonderful and respectful children who do well in school and are active in sports and other activities. They have each continued to work and have continued on their educations while raising a family. They have made mistakes and had hard times, but have always pulled together through all of it. They have faced financial problems and health problems together. Working together, they find a solution that best fits the needs of their family. The key to their survival and success has been that they knew from the beginning that it was them against the world. They each found the support and love in the other that was needed to continue through this path of marriage.
Not to say that they have not had their problems along the way, every marriage does. Even couples who are a great deal older when they become married have problems and failures in marriage. The key for these two has been always having a united front. When they have disagreements, they talk things out until things are worked out. Being able to do that is the thread that keeps them together. Being able to realize that the world is not going to give them anything unless they work for it has been a big factor as well. Not having to have the best of everything, but being content and grateful for what they have has been instrumental in their success. Knowing what is truly important and understanding the values and goals of each other while having common values and goals as a couple has enabled them to have a strong and successful marriage.
Another key to their survival has to be that both parties come from families with strong traditional family values. Values that teach children from a very young age that marriage is not only a commitment to the other person, but a vow and a promise made to God and in front of God. Having strong family values and being taught that marriage can survive everything has made a big difference to this young couple. Both grew up in homes where both parents were there, working to take care of the family. The simple things in life were enjoyed and everyone worked to keep the family together and safe. Being a strong family, weathering life’s storms together, enabled each of them to bring that strength and desire to survive into their own marriage and family.
Although teenage marriages have a higher rate of failure, the bottom line in any marriage is knowing what you are committing to at the beginning and being willing to see it through. Any marriage can survive any problem or situation if both partners are willing to start over when things seem to be over. Both partners have to be willing to give a little and work a lot. Age doesn’t have as much to do with the success of a marriage as understanding what marriage is before you leap into it. Teenage marriages that have been successful have had two people who realized the trials and goals of marriage from the beginning and who had the love and support of the people around them to help them make it through.
Another area which has enabled them to survive and be successful in their marriage has been the extended families. Both her family and his has always been willing to help them in any way possible, but have tried to stay out of their problems and their business unless invited in. Having people who love them and are willing to help them but not constantly tell them what to do or how to live has been an aid in building a strong foundation and a good marriage. Not “running home to mother” has helped them be the strong and mature individuals they needed to be to survive.
Also, being willing to tell others to but out when needed has helped a great deal. They have kept the problems in their marriage and the disagreements in their marriage as private as possible, keeping their marriage sacred and protected. That has been the true secret to not only surviving, but succeeding!