Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Case for Earlier Marriage?

I'm not sure I agree with all his arguments, but I thought this article in Christianity Today was an interesting piece about the problems of abstinence education and the trend of later marriages in Evangelical Christian circles (much of it can be applied to Catholics as well). Here's a tidbit:

Virginity pledges. Chastity balls. Courtship. Side hugs. Guarding your heart. Evangelical discourse on sex is more conservative than I've ever seen it. Parents and pastors and youth group leaders told us not to do it before we got married. Why? Because the Bible says so. Yet that simple message didn't go very far in shaping our sexual decision-making.

So they kicked it up a notch and staked a battle over virginity, with pledges of abstinence and accountability structures to maintain the power of the imperative to not do what many of us felt like doing. Some of us failed, but we could become "born again virgins." Virginity mattered. But sex can be had in other ways, and many of us got creative.

...It might sound like I devalue abstinence. I don't. The problem is that not all abstainers end up happy or go on to the great sex lives they were promised. Nor do all indulgers become miserable or marital train wrecks. More simply, however, I have found that few evangelicals accomplish what their pastors and parents wanted them to.

Indeed, over 90 percent of American adults experience sexual intercourse before marrying. The percentage of evangelicals who do so is not much lower. In a nationally representative study of young adults, just under 80 percent of unmarried, church- going, conservative Protestants who are currently dating someone are having sex of some sort. I'm certainly not suggesting that they cannot abstain. I'm suggesting that in the domain of sex, most of them don't and won't.

What to do? Intensify the abstinence message even more? No. It won't work. The message must change, because our preoccupation with sex has unwittingly turned our attention away from the damage that Americans—including evangelicals—are doing to the institution of marriage by discouraging it and delaying it.

...The abstinence industry perpetuates a blissful myth; too much is made of the explosively rewarding marital sex life awaiting abstainers. The fact is that God makes no promises of great sex to those who wait. Some experience difficult marriages. Spouses wander. Others cannot conceive children.

In reality, spouses learn marriage, just like they learn communication, child-rearing, or making love. Unfortunately, education about marriage is now sadly perceived as self-obvious, juvenile, or feminine, the domain of disparaged home economics courses. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In sum, Christians need to get real about marriage: it's a covenant helpmate thing that suffers from too much idealism and too little realism.Weddings may be beautiful, but marriages become beautiful. Personal storytelling and testimonies can work wonders here, since so much about life is learned behavior. Young adults want to know that it's possible for two fellow believers to stay happy together for a lifetime, and they need to hear how the generations preceding them did it.

Abstinence is not to blame for our marital crisis. But promoting it has come at a cost in a permissive world in which we are increasingly postponing marriage. While I am no fan of the demographic realities I outlined earlier, one thing I will remember is that while sex matters, marriage matters more. The importance of Christian marriage as a symbol of God's covenantal faithfulness to his people—and a witness to the future union of Christ and his bride—will only grow in significance as the wider Western culture diminishes both the meaning and actual practice of marriage. Marriage itself will become a witness to the gospel.

If you have time, go check out the article. I particularly appreciated his thoughts on the extended adolescence of young males, a subject Mr. Red and I have discussed at length as we would like to avoid this with our boys. In addition, I appreciated how he highlighted the things parents sometimes do to discourage young marriage, as many have a preconceived notion for their children as to the right time for them to marry. I'm not saying we should all push our children into marriage at the age of 19--definitely not--but rather that we often have ideas about what should be accomplished before a good marriage can take place (such as college, grad school, financial stability), and that sometimes our notions may interfere with God's more perfect plan for the vocation of our children. Obviously each situation is different, which is why I find my own "plan" for my children so glaringly problematic!

I was a little uncomfortable with the strong emphasis on sex--which is typical of my feelings regarding some Evangelical discussions on marriage--but I think his overall point that the current societal trends are working against God's design for our body was both very accurate and compelling. I'd love to hear your thoughts.


Jennifer Frey said...

This is such a tough issue, because there is a genuine cultural paradox at work here.

On the one hand, the statistical likelihood of getting a divorce rises exponentially the younger the parties of the marriage contract. I'm sure there are many factors at work here (lack of support from larger culture, incredibly lax divorce laws, etc.) but that is just the current reality, and it is both depressing and frightening. On the other hand, it is just plain obvious that it will be impossible for most people, living in this culture as human beings with an innate tendency to sin in the first place, to remain completely abstinent until they are 26 or 27. And we all know that a virgin bride, no matter what her religious affiliation, is hard to find, and a virgin husband even harder. I think something like 90% of Catholics who approach the altar have had pre-marital sex, usually with the person they are pledging themselves to in matrimony. As a society, of course, we should obviously prefer the latter sin of pre-marital sex to the former sin of divorce. Divorce tears families and thereby society apart. Pre-marital sex seems to pale in comparison.

I suppose I am disinclined to advise my children to marry young. Most 18-22 year olds that I meet are astonishingly immature, no matter what their socio-economic background or educational pedigree. In such a cultural climate, advocating early marriage strikes me as irresponsible. Of course, if my child meets someone mature, well-formed in the Faith, and he/she falls madly in love with him/her, I won't actively discourage them.

JimmyV said...

I think the problem is regarding college as, "the best four year vacation of your life." As I heard within a few months of my arrival. College actually delays maturity in this regard. With my children, I prefer marriage at maturity with encouraging of maturity along the way. I am exploring a variety of tools to encourage the maturation of my children: homeschooling, no cable TV, chores, awareness of familial obligations, early job training/entrepreneurship (hopefully).

kathy said...

I'm of two minds about this article, and about the trend in general of encouraging young marriage.

When I was in college, many, many of the evangelical pastors of the churches my friends and I went to (fairly intellectual churches with young congregations) were marriage-minded. Don't date too long, don't be engaged too long. On the one hand, this was probably sorely needed. Many people were on their super goal-oriented, career-driven path, the one that they carved out for themselves years ago, and probably needed to be reminded to look around (stop and smell the roses, if you will).

On the other hand, are people ready for kids at that point? This has been my biggest struggle. As a Protestant who got married just out of college (not *young* exactly, but young for my educational cohort, certainly), fulfilling the dreams of all the matchmaker pastors and Christian fellowship staffers, I now find myself wondering it would have been better for us to wait until we were ready for children.

What happens when "ready for lifelong commitment" doesn't exactly match up with "ready to procreate"?

Anonymous said...

I agree with kathy 100%! Getting married at 24 was perfectly clear, 'though I was a careerist and hadn't planned to ever marry. I was in the 10% who waited. But I wasn't ready for parenthood till years later--a readiness that was only possible by being married for years. All too often, the push for earlier marriage is accompanied by a push for earlier kids, and I think that's a mistake.


Karen said...

Personally, I was married at 21 and it was perfect timing. But, I think the key word here is timing. You have to fine the right person, whenever that may occur. For example, my husband was 27 when we got married. It is not so much the age, but it is a good match. "Marry in hast, repent at leisure." Marriage is something you need to work at no matter what age you were when you got married.

About babies, marriage does generally mean children. However, I think if you are not ready for children, I don't think you are really ready for marriage because while they both are very different roles, they each require some of the same character traits. Not to mention the basic fact that sex = babies, whether it takes place inside of marriage or not, whether you try to prevent it or not. This is coming from an "opps" baby herself.

:) I mean all of this kindly, not to sound condemning.

kathy said...

Anon4, I was actually thinking the opposite. I think that early-marriage proponents *don't* mention or acknowledge the relationship between marriage and parenthood or sex and babies enough.

At least that's the way I see it working out. People get married young, but make plans, as they plan the wedding, to postpone children for 3 years, 5 years, etc. In many circles, this doesn't raise eyebrows, artificial birth control being an assumed part of life. It's just recently that I've begun to think this slightly strange, and realize that it causes its own problems, which I think were mentioned earlier on this blog.

JesusThroughMary said...

I generally agree with the thesis of the article. The fact is that marriage is a vocation, and once a couple has discerned their vocation is to marry each other, there aren't many good reasons to delay answering the call. Most of the "reasons" set forth by society for postponing marriage are actually resolved by getting married and perpetuated by waiting.

A key weakness in the argument, and in Evangelical theology in general, is the lack of understanding of the sacramentality of marriage, which goes beyond the concept of the covenant to the notion that the marriage itself is the source of grace to live the marriage covenant. The very act of entering into Christian marriage provides the couple with the grace needed to learn how to communicate, how to trust each other and God in times of adversity, and how to be a good and loving parent. (I must add, "Anonymous", that your claim that one can't be ready for parenthood until after years of marriage doesn't acknowledge that reality, which is why the Church has unequivocally condemned it. As the article states, that keeps men from growing up and forces women to ignore the fact their fertility doesn't wait for grad school or a promotion.) Of course, some skills only come over time, as the couple grows up together, gains wisdom, and makes mistakes. But that obviously is no reason to postpone the beginning of that maturation process, and a good church community will have plenty of mentors for a young couple to help them along the way. If you know that God has called you to marriage, why waste the crucial post-college years on the fence trying to make yourself better marriage material when you could be spending them having God, your spouse, and the Church help you in the task? After all, Marines don't recruit soldiers - they make them.

JesusThroughMary said...

Karen -

If you're not ready for children, you're not ready for marriage, for a much simpler reason:

"By its very nature the institution of marriage and married love is ordered to the procreation and education of the offspring, and it is in them that it finds its crowning glory" (CCC 1652).

"Married couples should regard it as their proper mission to transmit human life and to educate their children" (CCC 2367).

Frustrated said...

I've seen this argument for early marriage before, and my first reaction is, I can't imagine how any man can support a family anymore who is under 30 and doesn't have a JD or MBA. Yes, I'm myopic because I'm living in an East Coast city, but that's the truth in this corner of the world. And if you believe marriage is ordered towards children, as I do, then it doesn't seem to make sense to be getting married when you're not prepared to financially support a family.

But then again, I'm in a foul mood because I've been spending hours over the last couple of days configuring web filtering software to keep my husband--who was a 32-year-old "virgin" when we married--off the porn sites that he visits (guiltily, and then slinks off to confession on Saturdays) while I'm at work and the baby is napping but he can't manage to do anything more productive while she naps because he got addicted to this junk while he was a college student.

And I see, buried in page 4 of the article, just one more thing that makes me angry at the blasted baby boomer parents of our generation who couldn't manage to teach their children to have virtue, and aren't willing to set aside retirement-at-62-with-3-cruises-per-year to help make it financially possible for their young adult children to experience the maturing effect of having their own family. Yes, I think that's the point of the article--we need to teach our children to be mature and realistic about marriage, and support them financially if they get started at a young age. Oh yeah, and don't let them watch TV for hours a day growing up, so they never form any hobbies or better habits than staring at a screen, which so easily morphs into staring at porn in this Internet age.

[Yes, this is a rant, and I apologize. I am just so angry right now--somewhat at my husband, but right or not, even more at his parents--and have nowhere else to express it.]

Right Said Red said...

Just want to point out that there are cases where a couple is ready for marriage, but discerns, after much prayer, that they should practice NFP and attempt to avoid having a child. Obviously it is ideal to be ready to have a child immediately, but sometimes God calls couples to make sacrifices for the good of their family--and that sacrifice might mean forgoing having a baby right away until some other things are in order (for example saving so that the mother can stay home with the infant).

While it is the proper mission of married couples to transmit human life, and our marriage should be ordered toward this (as JesusthroughMary rightly points out), a couple can be working toward this goal but prudently practicing NFP due to their particular circumstances. So I think it is true to say that a couple can be ready for marriage but not yet "ready" for children. In some circumstances it might be the better choice for a young couple to get married and practice NFP rather than wait and struggle with years of temptation. There are practical issues involved with every relationship, and age can be one of the practical issues at play with certain couples, for others it may be something like the woman's health. If a woman had health issues making it imprudent for her to have a child immediately, most wouldn't think it odd to ask her to delay her wedding until those issues were worked out. I think a similar case can be made for those who are young.

All this being said, it is imperative that the couple be mature enough to understand that their marriage is ordered toward children, and that the couple be working towards making their family ready to welcome a child (not pursing a set number of years of selfish pursuits).

I'm now rambling and need to get my pregnant, sleepless body into bed!

Right Said Red said...

I meant to say would think it odd to ask the woman with health issues to delay her wedding. Oops!

Carol said...

Just to point out that "being ready for children" is a lot like "being ready for marriage"...mostly impossible. I don't mean we shouldn't strive to be prepared for these two roles, just that each marriage, each child, each family is so unique it is impossible to be ready for all that they entail. I married late, after a career of teaching....you'd think I would be "ready for children"....I thought I was. But there is no perfect mother and no perfect wife...we all struggle to fight our sin problem and do the right thing. It is the fighting sin, the striving for virtue, that is the key. Along with the conviction that marriage is an unbreakable covenant and the willingness to depend on the graces of the sacrament. It doesn't matter if you were 18, 21, or 36 when you married and started your family..you probably weren't ready, and you have a happy marriage and happy children to the extent that you fight sin and strive for virtue.

I thought one of the most important points of the article, though perhaps not stated strongly enough, is that we should teach our kids that the desire for the opposite sex is about marriage and they should be thinking/learning/observing marriage and looking for a good marriage partner from the beginning. If they find that person relatively early, then we should be prepared to help them when needed. Frankly, I would rather help my kids get a house when they marry, than pay for their college education.

Mary Alice said...

I think that Carol makes some really good points. My husband and I married young (22) -- and had children right away, and we have had lots of help from our parents, while he finished graduate school and has begun our career. Marrying any earlier would have been a problem as I would not have finished college, and this is/was important to me, and it also empowers me to be able to help support my family or choose to work should that be the right choice at some point. It also gave me the education that I need to home educate my children, which is a career in its own way.

I have another brother who dated a few different girls but did not marry until he found the right one in his mid 20s, and yet another brother who is still single at 29. My parents have helped and supported them in different ways.

Frustrated, I am praying for you right now. Even though your husband continues to struggle, there is grace in the fact that he is going to confession, so while I know you know this and were just venting I think it is important not to discount that. I don't feel tempted by pornography, but I do find that I confess the same sins over and over again, but I also know that I am growing in grace and wisdom and I that I will conquer these things over time. You are helping your husband by putting on a filter, but perhaps both of you could talk to some experts about what better help could be given, perhaps the computer needs to leave the house altogether until he breaks this habit? It seems like a lot to give up, but I know that I can't really have chocolate cake on my counter every day and not eat it.

Also, I have been overwhelmed lately about how much our society pushes sex on us, we are surrounded by it. I think it is because I have a son who is now about to be 8, and so I am more aware of what "embarrasses" him -- in other words, his conscience is telling him to avoid these things -- how long before that conscience gets worn down. It is all in the background for us now, but as we walk past the VS windows, etc, I remember that when I was a kid and went to France we were scandalized at the underwear ads, now they are all over America too. I feel Puritanical, but I think it makes it much harder for people who struggle in this area.

MargaretJDMom said...

I find this all fascinating and I am supposed to be packing....oh well.
JTM- good point on the CCC. Children as the crowning glory of marriage indicate that being ready for kids is the default position. So, if you have to postpone prudently, ok, but that's not necessarily a great good. I would say there could be a lot better catechisis about this. I have heard MANY MANY NFP going couples say in big groups (not just joking friend to friend) things like "We're not having any more." or "We done waiting until I finish schoo." or "We're going to try for another one after the summer." etc etc. This really should be more private and in fact causes scandal, sort of just contributes to the contraceptive mentality.

Regarding marriage young....my thought always was if you find the right person, ok get married, love isn't on a timetable and better to get the graces going. I plan to tell my kids that dating is a discernment process, so don't go seriously dating unless you are also in a position to marry. Some couples need a long time to discern their relationship (my parents took years!) others don't. But when you know that's your vocation you certainly can't delay it for grad school or whatever. Just my two cents!

Maria said...

Frustrated - I will definitely keep you and your husband in my prayers. I'm sure the situation is painful for you.(My husband's family has suffered terribly due to his father's pornography addiction so I know how destruction it can be.)

I want to echo Mary Alice's suggestion and encourage your husband to seek some outside help. Pornography addiction operates similiarly to other addiction and actually changes the physiology of the brain. It is a difficult battle to overcome it, especially if someone tries to hide it and deal with it on their own. You can find good Catholic counselors that can help. Also, Sexaholics Anonymous can be very helpful as well. The 12 steps program fits very well into Catholic theology and can be extremely strong tools in overcoming addiction.

Jennifer Frey said...

Another thought to add:

My parents married when my Mom was 17 and my dad was 22, and so they lived in married student housing when they were in college. Imagine how isolated anyone who dared to do such a thing would feel now on any given college campus! I've never met married undergrads, and I've been in a University setting (Catholic and secular) for 12 years now.

In order for early marriage to have a chance, there would have to be a thriving culture (counter-culture, really) in which it could take root. And I don't think that culture currently exists, in any Christian denomination. How we create it is a whole other can of worms, and well worth discussing.

B and C said...

I think that the greater community should support and offer guidance to couples regardless of how long they have been married. "Toward this end, pastors, premarital counselors, and Christian friends must be free to speak frankly into the lives of those seeking their counsel about marriage. While it may be nice to find an optimal match in marriage, it cannot hold a candle to sharing a mental and spiritual commitment to the enduring covenant between God, man, and woman. It just can't. People change. Chemistry wanes. Covenants don't." Many of our friends are "waiting until they are sure", when they are really waiting until they feel some hollywood-style, romanticized love/lust that is difficult to sustain. Frank conversations (like those had on this blog) help to emphasize the covenant of marriage.

Anonymous said...

* big sigh*
that your claim that one can't be ready for parenthood until after years of marriage doesn't acknowledge that reality, which is why the Church has unequivocally condemned it.

I said nothing of the sort--I said in my case, that was true & made no universal claims. I think Right Said Red was reading more carefully--thank you. The Church does NOT condemn postponing pregnancy by licit means. And it isn't a matter of maturity necessarily., esp. for young people who weren't raised by pro-life parents.

Among other things, I had NO exposure to children before my marriage--something increasingly common. Neither had my husband. I certainly wasn't the only woman in the birth-prep classes who had never changed a diaper! Both our parents, otherwise practicing Catholics, were adamantly contraceptive & had had sterilizations. Before I got married, my mother tried to impress on me the importance of my husband getting a vasectomy after one or two--that was my "pre-wedding advice". Both our families of origin were regular communicants & sent my husband and I to Catholic schools & Catholic colleges. It's common.

If there's a point here, it's that because of the prevalence of the contraceptive culture even among Catholics, one can hold Church teachings (escaping the sin of one's parents) and still have significant personal reasons not to seek parenthood immediately, with prayerful discernment. It's not necessarily a matter of "maturity" or "selfish habits". That's the sort of judgementalism and stereotype that's so off-putting to people who weren't raised open to life & have to struggle with all the consequences of their parents' grave sin.


JesusThroughMary said...

Anon4 -

You did not say that noone can be ready for children until years of marriage. I apologize for construing your comment as universal.

However, I don't think you may even say of yourself that your readiness for children was only possible after years of marriage. It is not years of marriage that readies anyone to become a parent. Red is correct in saying that one can exercise prudence in delaying children in the first years of a marriage, as in any year of a marriage, due to circumstances. For my own part, my wife and I waited 18 months after we were married to conceive our first child. But the mere fact that you haven't been married for X years is not, in the mind of the Church, one of the circumstances that warrants such a delay. Whether you apply that standard to only yourself or to all married couples, I think it contradicts the clear teaching of the Church.

I don't see the connection between how one was raised and the obligation to respect the unity between marriage and procreation, except to admit that those whose consciences are improperly formed have limited if any culpability when they fall short of the Church's teachings on these issues. That doesn't change the objective facts, nor absolve the couple from informing their consciences rightly.

Anonymous said...

I am amazed by how many of you fall for the "ready" myth. Thinking back, have you ever been 100% ready for anything? Hindsight is 20/20, foresight never is no matter how mature you are. Life is a learning and growing time, you never fully arrive, you are never "ready" for anything really. My husband and I married at barely 20 years old, we are growing up together.
We learn more and more about self-sacrifice and serving others each time we have another baby (#3 is due in 3 weeks) Alot of our maturation would not have happened yet if we had delayed having our children.
Have we made mistakes? Yes. Do we have fights? Yes. Is God faithful? Yes.
I also laugh at the "waiting until you are rich enough" myth. Our grandparents lived on alot less and lived very fruitful and fulfilling lives. Why do christians buy the lie that they "need" stuff to be happy. I read an article the other day that a child costs $950 a month to raise! What the heck are they buying that kid?
Do you really need the big house, multiple cars, etertainment center, brand name clothes and toys, etc.etc. before you are "ready" to support a family? (And I might add that when you talk to someone on their deathbed they never mention any of the above when they reflect on the good things in their life)
We have done very well working our way through school using hand-me-downs, a single car,using prefold cloth daipers and breast-feeding, grocery shopping at ALDI, no cable, no cell phones, and no debt!
With my God and the church, my husband and my babies, what more do I need? God provides all of our needs. And needs are very different from wants.

You have been told, O man, what is good, and what the LORD requires of you: Only to do the right and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8

Karen said...

We were married while I was still in college and had one year to go. I achieved a 4.0 during my 1st married semester, so it helped in some ways. Marrying young and having children young would have been easier if I had Building Cathedrals then.

We postponed trying to have children until after I graduated college. However, we were ready to accept the consequences of an unplanned pregnancy and still achieve our goals (ie my college degree). That is what I meant by my earlier post.

To relieve the financial problems in early marriage, it is important to educate our children to be financially responsible. That is a topic for a whole other blog post. Here is a book on my reading list: "Preparing Sons to Provide for a Single-Income Family" by Steve Maxwell. Ultra conservative Protestants, but they did teach their son to buy his house with cash when he got married (www.titus2.com).

Karen said...

Forgot to mention the ideas in the "Preparing Sons" book should be applied to girls as well. :) This might sound strange, but we have our 8 year old daughter saving for a house. This is just one of the ways of preparing our children to be ready for what the Lord has planned for each one of them.

Sarahndipity said...

My husband and I met our freshman year of college. We knew soon afterwards that we were going to get married. We got married one year after college graduation, at age 23, which is pretty young for this day and age (at least the DC area where we're from). We were the first to marry of all our friends. Even our parents tried to discourage us from marrying so young, despite the fact that we had been dating for over four years and were waiting a full year after graduation to make sure we had jobs. We pretty much got married as late as we reasonably could. Not everyone should get married young and I certainly don't think we should push people to be married by a certain age, but we should definitely stop *discouraging* young marriage. We should raise kids to be more mature at a younger age and to take dating more seriously at a younger age. We tend to not think of people as “adults” until they’re 30, which is a huge problem.

As far as "readiness" for children goes - I agree with the commenters who say you are never really emotionally "ready" for children. However, I also agree with Red that there can be legitimate reasons to postpone children right away, especially financial reasons. Let's face it, it's very, very hard for a couple of 22-year-olds right out of college to support a family, especially on one income, not to mention a couple of 20-year-olds who haven't finished college. But since the Church advises couples not to wait too long for marriage in order to avoid temptation, I'm not sure what exactly couples are supposed to do if they meet as young as my husband and I met. Should we have married at 20 when we were still in college, completely dependent on our parents, and with no means of employment? Part of the problem is we live in a society that makes it very difficult for people to have children at young ages. You need years and years of education first. It used to be you could support a family right out of high school.

I think the right time to marry is also highly specific to the couple. Some people would have said that since we met at 18 we should have married at around 20 or so, but for us that would have been a disaster since we were the same year in college, and I can’t imagine dealing with pregnancy at that time. Others would say to wait for several more years after graduation to get more education or make more money. My mom wanted us to wait until we were 25, which is completely arbitrary and ridiculous. I think we got married at exactly the right time, for us, though other couples who meet at 18 might get married earlier or later.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with the statement of people treating us like children until age 30 or so. Sadly the early 20's with several small children demographic doesn't exist.

Nori Coleman said...

I have a friend who prayed to St. Philomena for her children's purity and for their spouses. Her oldest daughter met a geeat guy at daily Mass and she got married at 18. She new that her vocation was to be a wife and mother. She didn't even entertain the college issue, although she does have a nurses aide license. The couple now have two beautiful children and arefocusing on God there home and their beautiful children. I try to tell my boys to focuson establishing there foundation for a family not neccessarily a college bound attitude but to work hard save your money for your license, a vehicle and a home to beable to haveit set up if your goal is a family. Our second oldest son, worked full time this summer and has already learned how to put money into the church, home, bank and have some in his pocket. We need more practical training and life skills rather than college mentality. Family is the answer. Pray to st. Joseph and entrust your children's vocations to him!

Kevin said...

I would be careful recommending to anyone that it is OK to postpone having children immediately upon marriage One of the questions that is asked on all of the annullment forms is whether you postponed having children at the onset of your marriage. NFP is intended to be used to space children where their exists a grave reason. There are many pixels spilled in Catholic blogs as to what is a grave reason, so I won't get into that. Plus it's not any mortal's place to judge a couple's grave reason save for a spiritual advisor. But IMHO entering into a marriage with the intent of postponing having children even with NFP invites a contraceptive mentality early on into a marriage.

marriage workshops said...

I've been reading a lot about this early marriage thing so much lately and frankly I don't think there's an issue here. Clearly we are taking an easy way out. Early marriage is not the answer, it's just like lowering the legal drinking age. What we should do is fight , be strong and educate. Fight the media which debases sex as just a pleasurable activity. Be strong against temptation. Educate the young adults; don't suppress the idea of sex but rather teach them what sex is really about; it is something very sacred and something done out of love within the confines of a marriage. If they understand things correctly, may be they won't be rushing into things so quickly. Counseling and pre-marriage workshops will really help.