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Getting married young, while still at university and before you’ve moved out of home has its risks

The risks include a lack of knowledge of:
– How much it costs to live, and whether you can afford to do so.
– How much time it takes to manage a home, shop and cook for yourselves.
– Whether or not the person you intend to marry is going to be as helpful as you expect with the work involved and contributing to the cost.
– You don’t know what their spending patterns will be like when they have all that responsibility. What will they put first; finding enough money for general household costs or replacing a laptop that is dying which they need for their study?
– You both need to know what it’s like to be around each other in the one home; one partner may want to entertain friends on a regular basis and the other may need to study at the same time.

The stress of studying at university, working to earn enough to live, and having to manage a home, shop and cook for yourselves may be too much of a burden to put on a marriage in the beginning. It could cause arguments and harsh words and a general overall feeling that the marriage was a mistake. Whereas just waiting another few years until the study is finished may be the answer. It could lead to a marriage with few arguments and a lot less stress. Finishing university much more quickly, being able to start a better job sooner, being able to start saving for your own home much sooner, could result in a happier marriage that lasts a lifetime.

My suggestion for a Christian couple who want to honour God and not engage in a sexual relationship before they are married; is to experience managing a house and everything that goes with it; and learn about the cost of doing so without a permanent commitment to have to do so, preferably before too much is spent on the wedding plans. The following is how I think it can be done;
– You need the two young adults, living at the same house, while both are studying and working. This could be done if there is a spare bedroom available, or a caravan which is to be used just as a bedroom or maybe even a tent with power to it for a heater et cetera.
– If possible they can move every two weeks from one family home to the other and then back again and so on, for at least two months. This will enable each of them to have their normal bedroom and relations around them still on a regular basis. That way both families can help teach them how to cook, choose what to buy at the supermarket and what the cost of their normal household bills amount to.
– I believe it’s important, for the young people involved, to experience this while they are both busy studying and working because they intend to live that way after they are married. They need to learn what it could be like during this time rather than while they are on holidays. They need to find out if it’s worth it, or if they’d be better off waiting a few years before they got married.
– I would like to see them be given full responsibility for all the work involved in managing a two-bedroom house. They need to keep it clean regularly; they need to work out whether one of them will do the shopping while the other does something else or if they will do the work together.
– They need to entertain occasionally and live the way they want to live while they are still at university.
– To help them learn this and experience this, they could just pay their normal board, and spend their parents’ money on groceries and other costs which they don’t normally have to worry about. If they are spending too much on entertainment with their friends maybe they can be asked to contribute to this. If necessary, they can ask their friends to contribute to the cost of food when they come, particularly if their friends come on a regular basis.
– They need to keep track of all they spend on a monthly basis then add on a share of the other household bills and car costs, to see how much they need to earn after tax and whether they can afford it all. They need to be encouraged to budget and work out what they would do if they face problems like repairing a car or replacing a computer.

If the family they are living with does not want to allocate one particular job to them; say choosing the groceries; perhaps they could cook for the whole family instead of just the two of them. That way they would still have roughly the same work load that they would have if they were just cooking for two.

At times both the young couple and the family they are living with may have to plan exactly how they going to share the kitchen; this is where a caravan could be helpful. But I think looking after only a caravan and an extra bedroom is not enough work. It’s small and too easy to achieve.

It’s possible that maybe there is a security issue of sleeping in a caravan at the front of a house. To reduce this risk the person in the caravan could keep a remote for the family burglar alarm and press the panic button on it, if someone tries to break in. It’s also not a bad idea to know some self-defence, and maybe have a personal alarm or similar defence items. In our neighbourhood it’s good to know that there are a number of policemen living nearby, including a retired one who is often home or walking past, and close by is a former personal bodyguard for a previous politician.

Maybe the caravan could be moved each fortnight from one home to the other or possibly someone could lend a suitable caravan to one of the families. Sometimes buying a second hand caravan and then selling it a little while later can even result in a profit, as second-hand caravans really retain their value, they are not like cars. Our camper is a little different in that if you leave it up for six months at a time for a number of years, the canvas section can deteriorate so I would not want to make this a permanent arrangement. I know from experience it can cost between $2000 and $3200 to replace the canvas section of a camper. Our dog scratched through ours, but I did leave it up for six to eight months at least twice which caused it to deteriorate. If providing a caravan or tent just won’t work, then maybe they have to sleep in their own bedrooms but still do as much as possible of everything else they need to experience.

It is important that the couple behave in a way that genuinely shows the other what they are really like and they are honest with each other, tactfully trying to change bad habits in the other person before they are married. They should not want to change their partner after they are married. One person may never want to make the adjustment the other person desires and they need to know that about each other before hand.

Before I was married I read a tip for couples. It said that you should both decide that “divorce” is a word that should never be mentioned, suggested or threatened. You must enter marriage with the attitude that marriage is for life. That way you will be determined to work out problems. We live by the biblical teaching in Ephesians4:26 ; never go to bed without resolving the issue, or agreeing to disagree and apologising. Apologising is the key word. Also you are more likely to take a lot of care in deciding if the other person is someone you want to spend a lifetime with, if divorce is not an option.


Remember threatening divorce can cause insecurity in a marriage and damage the relationship.

I hope the young couple can truly work out what is best for them and have a long and lasting good marriage where they never consider even just threatening to divorce each other.

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