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Marriage Can Be Beneficial Even at Young Ages1

Carol Church2

Figure 1. 
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If you know any couples who married very young—for instance, straight out of high school—you may have felt a bit concerned at the time. These marriages do have a high divorce rate (Uecker, 2012).

But marriage itself is associated with a number of positive effects, such as better physical and mental health. So do those who marry very young still reap these benefits? Recent research published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior takes a look at this question, following over 11,000 young adults from middle and high school through age 28 and tracking their marital status and psychological well-being (Uecker, 2012).

Married young adults, including those who married before age 22, did better than those who were single, reporting less psychological distress, fewer episodes of drunkenness, and higher life satisfaction. Those who waited to marry till they were 22 to 26 were more satisfied than those who married younger, especially “teenage marriers” (Uecker, 2012, p. 8). But even early marriage had positive results.

However, young adults in any kind of romantic relationship also had better mental health than singles. Interestingly, those who were engaged, but not yet married, were happiest of all. The researchers suggest that the main reason singles fare worse is because their intimate relationships are less stable, while partnered young adults benefit from the “certainty” and “emotional and social support” (Uecker, 2012, p. 12) these relationships provide.

Though marrying early still comes along with other risks, such as a higher incidence of divorce, this research suggests both marriage and committed relationships have real benefits for young adults.

Listening, learning, and living together: it’s the science of life. “Family Album” is a co-production of University of Florida IFAS Extension and the UF Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences. If you’d like to learn more, please visit our website at familyalbumradio.org, or find Family Album Radio on Facebook.

To listen to the radio broadcast: http://radiosource.net/radio_stories/1892.mp3

Reference

Uecker, J. E. (2012). Marriage and mental health among young adults. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 53(1), 67-83. doi: 10.1177/0022146511419206.

Footnotes

1.

This document is FAR1063, one of a series of the Family Youth and Community Sciences Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original broadcast date March 16, 2012, as program 1892. Published on EDIS March 2013. In the interest of time and/or clarity, the broadcast version of this script may have been modified. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Carol Church, writer, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.