Meet the young South Australian couples wasting no time to get married (Image Source: Identity Magazine).
By Rebecca Copeland | @beccopeland
A wise man once said the human race is filled with passion.
While “medicine, law, business, and engineering” are noble and necessary pursuits to sustain life—“poetry, beauty, romance, and love” are what we stay alive for.
That was from Dead Poets Society.
Just as Professor John Keating told his students to rip out the pages from their poetry books and forget what they know, perhaps we should do the same when it comes to love.
Some believe love is a brain chemical cocktail, leading you down the aisle with dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins.
Some, like Professor Keating, believe it is love that makes life worth living.
Just like the nursery rhyme “first comes love, then comes marriage…”, getting married is a common and often desired expression of love.
However, Australians are taking longer to get married these days.
In 2017, the average age to get married in Australia was 32 for men, and 30.1 for women. The average marriage age has been steadily rising, and this is the first time the average age for women has exceeded 30.
Marriage has also seen a slight decrease in popularity over the last decade.
This could be for a myriad of reasons. Perhaps it’s because the average cost for a wedding in Australia has now reached the $50,000 mark; or maybe it’s because there are now other socially acceptable ways to make families and be in relationships, unheard of 50 years ago.
But what happens if a couple marries younger than 30, or even 25? Is it the brain chemical cocktail talking? Or is it true when they say “when you know, you know?”
Jake Elvey, 24, proposed to Montana Philips, 22, on November 26 2017. The couple has been together officially for almost six years, sharing their first date almost eight years ago.
“My family and friends were supportive because they already knew and loved Jake,” Montana said.
“They were slightly apprehensive that we’d get married too quickly and rush settling down, but once we explained our timelines of travel and buying a house first, they couldn’t have been more supportive.”
Despite the support of family and friends, the announcement was still greeted with some apprehension.
“New people that I meet are usually shocked to learn that I’m 22 years old, engaged and own a home,” Montana said.
“They are usually too polite to say explicitly, but the general consensus is that I’m missing out on my youthful years: travelling, studying/working abroad and creating crazy stories.”
Natalie Kennedy, 22, and Dan Probert, 25, got engaged on July 29 2018.
The couple also had very supportive families but received some apprehension from friends.
“Our families were very supportive. I believe this was because our families know us the best and could see how serious we were about each other,” Natalie said.
“For Dan’s family, there was also a religious element to it. Our friends were much more surprised and hesitant.
“I didn’t know if I’d get married young or not, but I’d always been open to the idea if I’d found the right person.
“When we got engaged, people stressed to us how we were throwing our lives away and tying ourselves down. We don’t see it like that at all. People thought we must have been getting married due to an unplanned pregnancy etc., I was not pregnant yet.”
Natalie gave birth to their son, Aris Finlay Probert, on April 17 this year.
Nicole Skewes (née Kerkemeyer), 21, and Toby Skewes, 22, got married on April 13 2019.
Nicole was asked whether she was sure about getting married, but said it came from a “caring place, rather than a concerned one”.
“I’d say it [marriage] makes people make certain assumptions about you, given their own preconceived ideas, for example, highly religious or something to do with pregnancy,” Nicole said.
“In my experience, people rarely just think ‘wow they must be really happy together’. I don’t think society outright criticises or supports [marriage]. It just comes with a sort of prejudice.
“Then again, it’s not everyone, and there are some wonderful, supportive people out there.”
Jordan Vick (née Manhall), 23, and Harry Vick, 23, got married on October 26 2018, after being engaged for just under a year.
Harry was 22 on their wedding day.
Jordan acknowledged that getting married young “isn’t encouraged in modern-day society”, due to jobs, houses, and wedding costs, but “knew it was something they wanted to do when they found each other”.
“We knew we loved each other, and that there wouldn’t ever be anyone else. It wasn’t a conscious thought; we just knew that we wanted to do life together forever, and were willing to make that lifelong commitment,” Jordan said.
“I think it comes with understanding and respecting the values of marriage too. And you can be any age to do that.”
The landscape of marriage may be changing in Australia, but the divorce rate is actually decreasing.
Some say this is a reflection of age and experience of the 30-somethings who chose to wait.
Others, like Sydney Morning Herald columnist Catlin Fitzgibbon, say the divorce rate is falling because there is “less social pressure to marry for the sake of it”.
Perhaps young people are simply paying less attention to social norms and the opinions of others, instead, choosing to follow their own path and seeing where love takes them.