17 year-old Melissa and her 21 year-old boyfriend Mark want to know how to tell her parents they are getting married. Melissa and Mark secretly got engaged last month on Melissa’s birthday and are planning on getting married soon, and she is very nervous about telling her parents. She’s especially nervous about telling her dad that she is getting married at 17, as she’s afraid both of her parents will not approve of the marriage. After searching for information on “telling parents about getting married”, Melissa found my Questions to Ask Before Getting Married article, which lead her to email me yesterday.
Melissa wrote, “How do I tell my parents I’m getting married so they will give parental consent? In the state I live, the age you can get married without a parent’s consent is 18, but we don’t want to wait. No, I’m not pregnant. We love each other very much and want to get married right away. I’m very mature for my age and we both feel we are mature enough to handle the responsibilities of being married, so why should we have to wait until I turn 18? What’s the big deal? Please don’t tell me I’m too young to get married, and I’m not looking for a lecture on whether we should get married or not. Oh, we’ve been dating since I was 14 and he was 18.”
Getting married at 17 is a very big deal, and while I won’t lecture on how young is too young to get married, I will give some important things to consider before getting married and then how to tell your parents you are getting married, or at least wanting to get married.
There are many good reasons to get married, just as there are many reasons not to get married, and it doesn’t matter if the person is 17, 18, 21, 26 or 30 years-old or older. Getting married is the easy part; being married and being happily married for the rest of your life is not so easy, and those considering marriage should not take getting married lightly.
Reasons not to get married include getting married because of “love at first sight”, immaturity, sexual attraction/lust, a cure for loneliness, freedom from parents, as an act of rebellion, rebound relationships, pressure to marry, wish for a fancy wedding, friends or peers are married or getting married, a sense of obligation, pregnancy, wanting a baby, emotional insecurity, and financial reasons.
Many of these reasons are purely selfish and do not take into account the other person’s feelings or needs, and such marriages are more likely to end in divorce. Just because there is an chronological age you can get married legally in most states, with or without parental consent, doesn’t mean you should get married now, or ever.
Regardless of age, anyone contemplating marriage should spend a great deal of time learning everything there is to know about the responsibilities in marriage, the roles of husband and wife, paying special attention to learning about how to be a good wife or how to be a good husband before getting married and preferably before getting engaged.
Waiting until you are already married to discover the hard way that having a successful marriage requires a lot more work than you initially imagined will only create conflicts and problems in your marriage you weren’t prepared for.
There aren’t just 10 questions to ask before getting married, there are hundreds of before marriage questions that couples have a duty and responsibility to discuss openly and provide honest answers to, in order for both to know exactly what they’re getting themselves into if they choose to marry each other.
That’s why premarital counseling is so important, regardless of what age you are when you get engaged and plan to marry. My advice for anyone planning to get married (regardless of your age) is to make sure you take the time to get as much marriage advice as humanly possible, seek out premarital counseling by a reputable premarital counselor or minister of your choosing, research information on Christian premarital counseling online, take a marriage preparation course, and read marriage books that provide helpful information and advice on how to have a happy, successful marriage.
Being nervous to tell your parents that you are getting married may be because you already suspect they won’t approve or give consent, but you won’t know that until you talk to them. Keeping your engagement a secret, or rushing off to secretly elope, will only make matters worse when telling your parents about your marriage or wedding plans. Don’t wait any longer to tell your parents; they just might surprise you and give full support of your marriage plans, and offer to pay for the wedding or at least part of it.
If you tell your parents about your plan to get married with a disrespectful attitude and tone of voice, prepare yourself for the news to cause an explosive reaction from both your mom and your dad. You may want to tell your parents over dinner at a restaurant if that makes you feel more comfortable and at ease, otherwise calmly and respectfully tell them you are engaged and would like to get married with their consent and approval.
Be prepared to answer any and all questions they ask honestly and respectfully. If you don’t know the answer to one or more of their questions, say you don’t know but be sure to explain that you and your fiance’ are taking all the necessary steps to educate yourselves about marriage and will complete premarital counseling classes, and make sure you do so. Listen and carefully consider whatever your parents have to say, whether it be questions, concerns, doubts or fears if they feel you are too young to get married at your age, or if your parents have other concerns about your relationship.
Telling your parents what they want to hear rather than the truth is a surefire way of making your parents angry, and you can bet they won’t be inclined to give parental consent and you’ll have no choice but to wait until you are of legal age to marry without their approval.
Your parents likely know you better than anyone else at this point in your life, and while I won’t tell you that you are just too young to get married, the fact that fear and nervousness is keeping you from telling your parents about your marriage plans creates questions and doubts about your maturity and readiness for marriage.
If you were my daughter, or Mark was my son, I’d tell you both to wait a couple/few more years before getting married. I’d tell you both to go to college and get your degree, establish yourselves financially in your careers of choice, as you have your entire lives ahead of you to be married and have a family. No lecture here, just facts to help ensure you are saving your marriage before it starts and ends up in divorce court within two years after the wedding.
Do you think someone that is only 17 is just too young to get married, or do you think the decision to marry depends more on maturity and readiness for marriage? What is your advice for Melissa and Mark, or other young couples thinking about getting married at a very young age?
Questions Before Marriage – Questions to Ask Before Getting Married
Toxic Relationships – Toxic Family Members
How to Fight Fair in Marriage
How to Spice Up Your Marriage
How to Get Along With the In-Laws: Dealing With In-Laws and Extended Family
Relationship Deal Breakers – Non Negotiable Boundaries
What does it mean to “leave and cleave” in traditional wedding vows?
How to Spot a Gold Digger