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Married at 16?
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Can you get married with parental consent if you’re 16?

Shayna Answers:

Dear Ready for Marriage,

There’s a lot of red tape—you need to come up with ID, verification of your address, and your birth certificate, have a premarital exam done by a physician, and have both your parents sign a consent form. That’s not all. You also need to petition a circuit court with a “Petition to Marry” form which will cost you $120 even if the judge denies your request.

Then there's the issue of making the most of the opportunities that you have right now to go to school and become emotionally and spiritually mature, as well as the huge financial responsibilities of adulthood.

Beyond those reasons to wait until you’re older to get married, there are experiences that you typically have in your young adulthood that teach you important skills that you need for marriage.

For example, almost every teenager gets tired of their overprotective parents and annoying siblings at some point. Any college freshman will tell you, though, that as soon as you’re sharing a 10x10 dorm room with another person, it’s apparent that it wasn’t your family after all! It can be hard to live with anyone—including a husband!

Almost every young adult will end up with one or more roommates during their college or postcollege experience. Learning to accept other people as they are is harder than you think. However, you’ll become better at it with age and experience.

Part of the reason for this is, according to cognitive scientists, the prefrontal cortex of your brain is the last part of your brain to develop. This is the part of your brain that you use to make decisions, and it isn’t fully developed until age 25! So it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll see your situation a lot differently in about 10 years!

It’s also likely that you’ll see God differently, too. See, our spiritual relationship with God deepens as we get older, which impacts all of our relationships—romantic and otherwise. Mark 10:7-9 explains marriage this way, “A man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”

Since marriage is a life-long commitment, you need a strong spiritual foundation to help you keep your commitment! You have time now to work on your relationship with your boyfriend and with God. Get to know your boyfriend better and encourage him to strengthen his relationship with God as well. In marriage it’s especially important to have your own relationship with God, so that you can cling to your faith and trust God when things get rough. Also before you get married, it’s a good idea to meet with your pastor and enroll in a premarital counseling class.

It’s not that I doubt the feelings that you have for your boyfriend or that the two of you will probably make a great couple. Honor God with all of your decisions, and don’t shortchange yourself by moving too quickly in this relationship. You have little to lose by waiting.

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By Shayna Bailey. Portions reprinted with permission from Insight Magazine Online. Copyright © 2012 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®.


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