Are We Prepared Enough for Marriage?

I've taken a lot of math classes. And political seminars. And biology labs. I checked off every "Gen Ed" credit from my list, including the always-useful Greek Literature and Calculus classes.

I interned at magazines for years before jumping into the professional world — partly because I wanted to, but mostly because "they" made me.

I took prenatal breastfeeding classes and pored through books and articles and blog posts before becoming a mom.

But when we, as a whole, get married — or even talk about getting married in the future — the conversation swirls around rings and dresses and color schemes. We have a ritual ceremony — sort of like a Sweet 16 or graduation, but with more fanfare. And money. We congratulate and throw confetti, with well wishes and tears.

No prerequisites, no lectures, no financial or legal preparation.

And although a divorce can take thousands of dollars and years of legal struggles, I'm pretty sure my court-house elopement cost less than $100 with next-to-no planning. Our marriage happened so fast, so easily, that it took awhile for it to feel real. Shouldn't it be the other way around? Shouldn't it be harder to get married than to get divorced?

If my Facebook feed is an accurate trend tracker (and, let's face it, it is), the mid/later-20-something years are the wedding years. They're the I-need-a-commitment-or-I'm-walking years. They're the we've-been-together-for-5-years-so-now-it's-time years. I can't help but think: Are you prepared for the real changes that come with a marriage? Are you prepared to be a wife?

I'm not saying people shouldn't get married, and I'm not saying that I regret getting married at a young age. But isn't it silly that we don't prepare ourselves for marriage as much as we do every other life change? Especially a change that affects our money, our family, and our happiness?

What about you? Did you feel prepared for the realities of marriage?

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Part of the soon-to-launch Early Mama redesign will include a section on Early Marriages. If you have a story to tell — advice, reflections, regrets — feel free to shoot me an email.

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[photo: Flickr/adwriter]