Seniors at The University of Southern Mississippi are soaking up the last moments of their undergraduate experience. Some have already landed dream jobs and are making arrangements to move out of state. Some are preparing to enter graduate school.
Others are planning their weddings.
That’s right—lace, bells and all. In fact, more and more college couples are putting their name on a marriage license as well as a diploma.
LaDonna Reese, senior marine biology major, will be tying the knot 10 years before she predicted she would be.
“I did not know I was going to get engaged,” Reese said. “Knowing that my fiancé loved me that much and was secure in his decision in choosing me as his wife are the reasons why I didn’t wait.”
Age was not a factor in her decision to go forward with the engagement.
“Life is not something to play with,” Reese said. “This generation does not take relationships seriously as young adults and (they) put themselves at risk by experimenting with people that they never needed to be affiliated with. I feel like your maturity level determines what time—not age—you are prepared to get married.”
Going forward, Reese is willing to compromise with her mate in order to make a life together. Her career goals are the same as they have always been, but transitioning into marriage is her first priority.
“I wouldn’t say my career plans have changed because I’m engaged,” Reese said. “They are being placed on ‘semi-reserve.’ I have applied for internships in the Chicago area because that is where my fiancé and I are from. After some time of being married, he and I will discuss things like (traveling) and going abroad.”
Kirstie Lowery, senior media production major, never thought she would be wearing an engagement ring before graduation, but after her fiancé got down on one knee, she changed her tune. In fact, he renewed her faith in marital success.
“I didn’t plan on getting married before graduation, but when I met my fiancé he changed the way I thought about marriage,” Lowery said. “I never saw marriages work out well with those close to me. I thought a successful marriage was impossible, but now that I’m with (Landry)—someone I love and want to be with forever—it has made me realize that marriage can work.”
More and more, college-aged couples are starting to get married.
So many that there is now a phrase for it: “get the ring before spring.” The idea of that phrase is that seniors are rushing to the altar before they graduate. Some even suggest getting engaged is somewhat a trend.
“I think a lot of couples are more in love with the idea of marriage than their partners, and that in my opinion is one of the biggest reasons people divorce,” Lowery said.
The seniors do not seem to be getting engaged like it is a fashion statement. Each couple has personal, special reasons to get hitched.
Couples who get married at a young age are at an advantage, researchers say. Reese and Lowery may be among the percentage of couples who live happily ever after because of the timing.
Nicolas Wolfinger, a sociologist from the University of Utah, studied statistical data from the National Survey of Family Growth. He found that the rate of divorce among couples significantly decreases when vows are said by young adults in their early to mid-20s. However, that rate of divorce begins to steadily increase after the age of 32.
“Those who tie the knot after their early 30s are now more likely to divorce than those who marry in their 20s,” Wolfinger said.
His research showed that the reason why some people do not get married until a later age is because those are probably individuals that are not cut out for marriage in the first place.
“They delay marriage often because they can’t find anyone willing to marry them,” Wolfinger said. “(While) they do tie the knot, their marriages are automatically at high risk for divorce. More generally, perhaps people who marry later face a pool of potential spouses that has been (whittled) down to exclude the individuals most predisposed to succeed at matrimony.”
In other words: slim pickings.
Statistics show all kinds of trends in marriage, but one thing every married person will tell someone is that the success of the marriage depends solely on the individual.
No matter how many times, or at what age a person decides to get married, the union can be successful through communication, honesty and a stubborn willingness to try.