Do teen marriages have half a chance?

In light of MTV’s hit shows “Teen Mom” and “Teen Mom 2,” the network’s website has opened a discussion about how likely teen marriages are to succeed.

I don’t think it will be a surprise to many that teens who marry, with or without a baby, have a tough road ahead of them.

According to MTV.com:

“So what exactly is the divorce rate for teen marriages? It’s pretty grim: Teen marriages are twice as likely to fail compared with those between older couples. Let’s take a closer look at the facts on married teens.”

“One-third of teenage marriages (where the bride is younger than 18) end in divorce within five years, and almost half wind up divorcing within 10 years. Those aren’t great odds to begin with, but add parenthood to the mix and it can be a recipe for disaster. Only 30 percent of teen mothers who marry after their child is born are still married by the time they’re 40.”

“Less than 8 percent of teen moms marry their baby’s father within one year of the birth. Leah and Corey tried to make it work–they each had to sacrifice a ton for the sake of their marriage and their twins–but sacrificing can also lead to resentment and fighting.”

So if your teen got pregnant, would you encourage them to marry? Would that make things better or worse? At what age would you feel OK about young adults getting married? Is there a big difference between a 17-year-old getting married and a 19-year-old?

46 comments Add your comment

justmy2cents

February 17th, 2012
12:18 pm

I certainly would NOT encourage them to marry. They have already made one huge mistake, no need to make another so soon! There should be a law people cannot marry til after 30. :o) It would cut down a lot on divorces.

ng4bama

February 17th, 2012
12:25 pm

I can’t speak about a pregnant daughter because I have 2 sons, ages 19 and 17, but objectively I would encourage adoption. I believe a child should be raised in a two parent household. Does that guarantee a great outcome? Not always but the odds are greater.
I am not sure about what age would be best to get married. It really depends on both their maturity level. I did not marry until I was 26 and am very glad I did not. I grew up without a father in the house and my step father wasn’t much of a “father figure”, so my understanding of a real man was not well developed at an earlier age.
My husband and I have been married over 22 years, so I believe my sons have a good understanding of what a husband and father should be (I married a great guy). Therefore, I think they are more mature than I was when it comes to this. Would I encourage it? Probably not.

So this new boyfriend of yours

February 17th, 2012
12:27 pm

Is a teenager that you want to marry?

Yes!

K's mom

February 17th, 2012
12:30 pm

My husband married the first time at 23 and we married when he was 44. I was 34 the first and only time I have been married. He says he had no business marrying the first time and really should have stayed single for much longer into his 20s or 30s…of course that would have meant we likely would not have married, so it worked out. I spent my 20’s and early 30’s wroking very hard, playing really hard, and really figuring out who I am and what I want out of life. I want that for my kids.

I think back to who I dated in HS and college and I am so different now and want such different things out of a relationship that I do not believe I would encourage my sons to marry just because of a teenage pregnancy. Of course, I hope to never be in that boat and I hope that talking about sex and relationships with them early and often will help to enforce good decision making.

I know 2 or 3 couples who were HS sweethearts (no babies til after marriage) and I believe they will make it, but I think they are the exception not the rule. I think you change so much from 18-30 with a baby or without that relationships are very hard to keep together because of that change and personal growth.

Techmom

February 17th, 2012
12:34 pm

Marriage is hard enough without a child but you add in a lack of maturity and life goals and it really is just a ticking time bomb.

When I got pregnant, so many of my parents friends asked if they were going to make us get married. I was baffled that people thought it would be a good idea. We obviously weren’t good at making decisions together since we got pregnant in the first place and yet you think making us get married is going to be a good idea? Ha. In fact, the best decision I made was to ditch the sperm donor. Half-way through the pregnancy, I realized how uncommitted to the baby he was and decided I didn’t want him to be a part of my life or the baby’s life. Luckily I had really supportive parents and was still able to finish school and such and didn’t need his help. Though quite frankly, if you’ve watch Teen Mom, it’s apparent that a significant portion of the moms issues are from the babies’ fathers.

That being said, I did meet my husband when I was 17 and he was 18 and married when we were 21/22. Still very young and although we are still together, it certainly wasn’t easy (is any marriage??) Many people have not really figured out who they want to be, let alone who they want to spend their life with. The few friends who we had who got married about the same age have mostly divorced so no, I am not surprised by the high divorce rates for young marrieds.

K's mom

February 17th, 2012
12:44 pm

@Techmom, I was at a party not too long ago and several of the moms were saying they hoped that Teen Mom was till around when their kids were older so that they could watch and see how hard it is to be a teen parent. I had really never thought about it, but I do not believe that Teen Mom is glorifying or glamorizing teen parenting and can see their point. Having been there, what do you think?

Techmom

February 17th, 2012
1:01 pm

When 16 & Pregnant first came on I wondered if it was going to encourage young girls to want to become moms too young. But I think Teen Mom has done a good job of following these girls and all their struggles and has given a real glimpse into the harsh reality that is being a young mom. Most of the girls did not finish school, most of the fathers are not around or if they are, they are not supportive, most of them struggle with money and family relationships. As angry as I get with these girls because they make bad decisions, it’s almost good that they show the ugly side of being a teen mom because it does not glamorize the situation.

I know when I talk to teenagers about being a young mom, I am always sure to remind them how hard it was and how much support I had because while things have turned out well for me and my son, I’m the exception to the rule.

mom2alex&max

February 17th, 2012
1:03 pm

I married at 23 and I thought that was really young. (NO I didn’t HAVE to get married). I would never encourage a teen to get married, pregnant or not.

ng4bama

February 17th, 2012
1:07 pm

I am not sure about Teen Mom sometimes. I think they need to spend more time during the show about actually taking care of the babies/children. And these teen moms get compensated. Normal moms don’t have time to get their nails and hair done.;)

Techmom

February 17th, 2012
1:18 pm

I’ve heard lots of rumors about their compensation. Evidently it wasn’t much the first season but apparently it’s a lot more now. So maybe all the financial woes are made up. I wonder if MTV makes them sign contracts saying they’ll live a certain way? Maybe that’s why Janelle has so much money to spend on drugs.

Jeff

February 17th, 2012
1:22 pm

I had mixed emotions about the show, then the mom started beating the dad, and my emotions got even more mixed. There are lessons to be learned, but they have to be presented to someone who wants to learn them.

Teen marriage? Nope. Two bad decisions don’t make a right one. If they’re meant to be, they can always marry later.

Then again, I believe we should have just as many options for male birth control as we do for females. A double layer of protection couldn’t hurt.

Voice Of Reason

February 17th, 2012
1:26 pm

I married my high-school sweetheart, we had been together at that point for over 8 years, exactly 8 days before I turned 25. This year we will celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary, and also celebrate 18 total years of being together.

/Just nullified all arguments stating that people should wait until they are 30 to get married.

Stacey

February 17th, 2012
1:28 pm

No, I do not think most teen marriages will last nor would I encourage my teen to marry because of pregnancy. I don’t think that “shotgun” marriages generally last regardless of age. While agree with whoever said that a two parent household is ideal, my parents stayed married “for the kids” despite the fact that they should have divorced years before I was born. IMO, there are a lot of stable, healthy single parent household and there are many toxic, unstable two parent households. I had a lot of classmates and friends who had babies while we were in high school and several of them have grandkids the same age as my son. I only know of two of them that married immediately and they are now divorced. A few of them married their high school sweethearts several years after their first kids were born and a lot of them are still married.

Soccer MILF

February 17th, 2012
1:32 pm

Why marry young? He probably can’t keep your lifestyle making peanuts.

Techmom

February 17th, 2012
1:40 pm

Voice of Reason – Sure some young marriages work but don’t you think the stress level would have been a bit different if you and your husband had married when you were 18 instead of 25? I don’t think one successful (or even 30% of the marriages that are successful) suggest that it’s a good idea and nullifies the arguments that people should wait to get married. (I don’t necessary think 30 is the ideal age as it depends on the people involved.) But that’s like me saying that because I had my son at 16, graduated high school and college, have a successful career, a good marriage, we’re financially stable and my son is happy, well-adjusted and planning on going to college that I advocate teen pregnancy. It does NOT work out this way for most people.

Voice Of Reason

February 17th, 2012
1:53 pm

@Techmom

That was actually a joke meant entirely just to be amusing. Different strokes for different folks.

Techmom

February 17th, 2012
2:00 pm

My apologies then

jmb

February 17th, 2012
2:02 pm

I sure hope so in my oldest daughters case. They are 20 & 21 and both are in the army so married earlier than planned in order to be stationed on the same base. I’m sure the distance (he’s deployed) between them will be a strain but will help some while they finish maturing. Now for my 17 year old single pregnant daughter, I would never encourage her to marry the father. He’s just a worthless piece of crap and I’m hoping she’ll realize it before the baby comes in August.

justmy2cents

February 17th, 2012
2:03 pm

I throw 30 out there as a random number. I just mean that HOPEFULLY by that age, you have completed college, have a job, a house, and gotten most of your wild oats sowed. Then, if you can take care of yourself, you should be at a point in your life to open it up to take care of someone else. :o) Some hit that at 25, some at 30, 40, and some NEVER get there. :o)

JATL

February 17th, 2012
2:05 pm

I fervently hope neither of my sons will impregnate anyone during their teen years, and if they do, I certainly hope she’ll have an abortion. If she won’t, then I definitely don’t want them getting married! Let’s just take one huge mistake and make a bigger one! It’s 2012, not 1960, and quite honestly anyone who marries as a teen in this day and age might as well have “STUPID” tattooed on their forehead as far as I’m concerned. It’s a REALLY dumb move! If high school sweethearts remain enamored for years after high school, through college and into adulthood -great -get married then, but until then, just have very protected sex and don’t jump into a what’s supposed to be a lifelong legal and emotional commitment.

Bilbo Baggins

February 17th, 2012
2:08 pm

It is very common for hobbits marry in the beginning of the forth harvest fall. 1% divorce rate. Most women if divorced in The Shire are focred bear a scaret “BH” for Broken Hobbit.

There is the occasional gay marriage but they rarely work out. there was the scandal where Pippin caught Merry in bed with Frodo. I can tell you there was a lot of mending over buttered muffins when that happened.

K's Mom

February 17th, 2012
2:24 pm

@Techmom, thanks for the perspective. That was sort of how I felt about the show, but I have no personal perspective. I think it is great that you share your story with young men and women. Congratulations on being the exception to the rule!

Lori

February 17th, 2012
3:06 pm

I think it depends on your acceptance of “for better or worse” as to whether it will last. If you go into any marriage, not just a teen marriage, thinking that divorce is always an option, then it’s probably an option that you will take one day. But if you marry with the stance that you are going to stick with it and work it out, then maybe you have a better shot. I don’t consider divorce an option. I married my high school sweetheart. We’ve been married for 14 years, but together for 20 (we didn’t get married until after college, but dated all throughout). Maybe that’s why it’s lasted, since we dated for 6 years before we got married. But we’ve had rough times just like anyone else. Neither one of us are the person we were when we met. We’ve both grown and matured in different ways. If we were to meet now, I don’t know if we’d have ended up together. But that doesn’t mean we can’t still work.

Lori

February 17th, 2012
4:44 pm

It amazes me that people on here “hope the girl would get an abortion” or would “encourage adoption”. I can’t imagine that. If my son were to impregnate a girl, I would be upset, but I would still want the child. This would be my grandchild. I can’t image a scenario where I ever wouldn’t want my grandchild.

Bilbo Baggins

February 17th, 2012
4:57 pm

Where I come from there is an expression. It takes a Shire to raise a child. Most girls are with child by 15 or considered an old maid. A lot of children are required for farming butternut squash and other foods necessary all necessary meals, Samwell Gangee has 15 children….five of which have stunted feet so they are not fit to work in the farms.

ng4bama

February 17th, 2012
5:51 pm

Lori-It’s not about wanting “my” grandchild. It is what’s best for the baby. Being raised by teen parent(s) who may or may not stay together and are still raising themselves or being raised by parents that want are child, will love it and raise it.
Yes of course it would brake my heart, but what is best for the child?
BTW: Abortion is not one of my choices.

Realitymom

February 17th, 2012
6:07 pm

As the mother of a son, I would want them to get married even if the got divorced later. Paternity is much easier if you are married along with getting to be a part of the child’s life. I would rather be the ex mother in law that the babydaddy’s momma.

Soccer MILF

February 17th, 2012
6:11 pm

Some other questions in line with “Do teen marriages stand a chance?”

*Is OJ innocent?
*Should you expect your NBA husband to be faithful?
*Do polar bears make good house pets?
*Is Affliction wear cool?
*Is Obama a good president?

catlady

February 17th, 2012
6:27 pm

Did not have a pregnant teen. They all waited till married to have babies (but they did it in pretty quick order after they married at 30 and 26. The other married at 24 and wants no children.) I would have been VERY DISTRESSEd if they had ended up parents before marriage, although I am sure it would have been possible for any of the three to be. I really don’t know how I would have felt if it had happened. God bless those involved.

JATL

February 17th, 2012
9:09 pm

@Lori -I don’t want a grandchild at the wrong time any more than I wanted a child at the wrong time. If I had gotten pregnant as a teenager or single woman in my 20s, I definitely would have had an abortion. I love my children more than anything, but I don’t want their lives ruined by becoming spouses or parents while still teenagers. I will welcome grandchildren -after my children have grown up, gotten their education and started making their own way in the world. Before then -no -don’t want ‘em!

Longtime Educator

February 17th, 2012
10:52 pm

Married my husband when I was 19 and he was 20. We finished our university schooling together…I got my Masters and he got his Doctorate. We were married 8 years before we had our first child. We will celebrate our 39th anniversary in May. I know we are the exception to the rule and happily, we’ve had a good life together.

K's mom

February 18th, 2012
4:16 pm

@JATL, I get what you are saying and think you have a very valid point.

DB

February 19th, 2012
4:25 pm

Honestly — I don’t know. We all think we know how we would react, but sometimes, reality is a bit of slap in the face. Happily, we’re out of the teenage years, and the kids seem very career-oriented at this point, so it’s kind of a non-issue for me at this point.

I don’t think I would encourage in any direction — it’s a decision they would have to make because they are the ones that are going to have to live with it. I think I’d know what my opinion/preference was — but again, each set of circumstances are different in terms of maturity, commitment, etc. I’m pretty sure, though, that it’s almost impossible to “make” a couple get married these days. The shame factor has subsided quite a bit — far fewer teenage marriages with “premature” babies.

Augusta

February 20th, 2012
8:17 am

Married at 20, still together. Although I was NOT pregnant when we married…..that came several years later….

Soccer MILF

February 20th, 2012
8:50 am

Its okay everyone…..some of the poaster got married ealry. tell your teenage kids to go ahead and get prenant and married cause some of these people got married at 20!

Tig

February 20th, 2012
9:42 am

I think 16 is too young, and even those that choose to get married at 18/19 can often times be too young as well.

One of my cousins dated her boyfriend the last few years of high school (he is 2 years older and didn’t go to the same school), and they got married just before her 19th birthday. They waited several years before having their first of two children, and today they are still married over 20 years later with both of their children in the 1st and 2nd year of college.

But even they are quick to speak up to say that they are an exception to how marriages often go for people who get married so young.

Funny

February 20th, 2012
9:49 am

Parents for babies born during the 1970’s typically got married right after high school at 18 or 19 years old. Sixteen may be a bit too young developmentally to get married and no one should get married just because they have a child together but as far as being a teenager is concerned, age is only a number. It’s the level of the maturity of the individuals involved that matters.

We all seemed to have turned out alright for the most part.

jmb

February 20th, 2012
11:02 am

I married when I was 15 and became a mother at 18. We were married for a little over 20 years. Although I remained in school and finished college, I would never want that for my child. I was litterally miserable the last 15 years but had a child so felt like I was suppose to hang in there for him. Had I known that he would have felt my misery so much, I would have left when he was a baby. 15 is too young to marry but staying married for the children is just wrong. They are as unhappy as you are in a broken marriage. I won’t push my daughter to anything. It’s her pregnancy and if God intends on a child to be, then so be it. I don’t believe in abortion so that’s not even an option.

Oats Willey

February 20th, 2012
1:52 pm

Vote for me and get free pizza!

catlady

February 20th, 2012
1:57 pm

Seems like there are four groups: Those who marry young without a pregnancy, those who marry young because of a pregnancy, those who marry young and immediately start a family, and those who start a family but do not marry. If you are interested in the phenomenum, read the book, “Promises I Can Keep.”

DB: I remember the neighbor girl across the street in the 1950s. She had a 9 pound “premature” (supposedly 6 months gestation) baby! I didn’t understand for the longest why everyone was so “surprised.”

I got married to my boyfriend of 4 years at age 20, 2 months before graduating college. I was way too young, looking back. The first child was born at 24, and my family was not happy. I was “too young” to be a mother. My mom had her first and only (me) at 30, and my grandmother was 28 when she “rushed into things.”

When I was working in adult literacy I tried to recruit a girl, age 15, and her mother, age 30, to the program. The girl had just had a baby. My MIL became a grandmother at 32, BTW. Different families accept different things as “normal.”

LM

February 20th, 2012
3:09 pm

Thankfully my 19 y/o daughter and I have had many conversation regarding this very subject. I started talking to her when she was very young. She knows how I feel and what my reaction might have been while she was still underage. She also knew that I would be here biggest support had we every had to face a teenage pregancy.

Within weeks of her High School granduations several from her class had gotten married, and over 50% of those couples have had a baby in the past 1 1/2. She has seen how early marriage and children can redirect a womans college and careers.

I was first married at 19 my husband was 20. Neighter of us had a clue, both of us came from broken homes. My dearest friends were married when she was 16 he was 19, they had their first child when she was 33. They are an exception and will be celebrating 28 years this May.

for petes sake

February 20th, 2012
4:23 pm

Why no new blog in 3 days?

Mountain Girl

February 20th, 2012
4:56 pm

I am sure some people would say my husband and I got married very young – I was 23 and he was 21. I had been out of undergrad a year and he was due to graduate in two weeks. We got married, went off to graduate school together, and postponed children for ten years (now we have two amazing daughters). I am sure a lot of people (including our families) thought we were a little crazy to get married when he was just 21, but it has worked out great, and being from a poor, rural area, I was WAAAY older than most of my friends when I got married so it didn’t seem that young to me.

Mountain Girl

February 20th, 2012
4:59 pm

P.S. yes, if one of my daughters got pregnant as a teenager, and she and he WANTED to get married and I thought he had a modicum of sense and loved my daughter, I would certainly think it was the right thing to do, and I would help her in any way I could so she could go to college. I would never try to coerce her to get married, though.

DB

February 20th, 2012
8:56 pm

@catlady: You left out one group: The one who finishes school, develops a mature awareness of what they want/need out of a relationship, find that person, take time to get to know them, marry them, and THEN have a baby.

It happens . . .

JATL

February 21st, 2012
9:22 am

@DB -amen! If only the group you describe was today’s “norm”!