The Queer Issue
It's only a matter of time until the wheels on my marriage come flying off, sending it careening into a canyon, on fire. It's not my fault, or my wife's. It's the stats, man.
And if you're like me and you married young—I was 23, she was 24—statistically speaking, you've got a shit chance of making it out in one piece. So a word of warning to all you twentysomething homos out there thinking about running down to California and getting married: Don't. Just don't. Marriage is a numbers racket and, if you hold out, you've got a better shot at making things work.
Right now, the divorce rate in America ranges between 40 and 50 percent—depending on how you interpret the numbers—and according to the 2000 census, nearly 10 percent of Americans have been divorced at least once. Basically, if you're married, the odds are against you. You've got a 50-50 shot. But those odds are even worse if you get married young.
Marriage data is tracked by the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Census Bureau, and a number of other think tanks and college programs track marriage info, and much of that data indicates that younger couples have a divorce rate closer to 60 percent, well above the national average.
To make matters worse, the younger you are, the less likely you are to have finished college or found a decent job, both of which significantly contribute to stable marriages. You probably won't have a solid income before you're out of college, and without those things, the National Marriage Project—an ongoing study at Rutgers University—says your marriage is 25 percent less likely to succeed than if you'd gotten your shit together before walking down the aisle.
According to the NMP, nearly two-thirds of couples that get married in their late teens and early 20s will divorce within 15 years, while couples that wait until their mid- to late 20s divorce at a much lower rate—around 30 percent. However, that percentage can increase or decrease based on a number of other factors.
Again, couples that make more than $50,000 a year, have completed some college, and wait to have kids have a higher chance at success than a couple made up of a pregnant ninth-grade dropout and a 16-year-old fry cook, which really shouldn't be all that surprising.
But even though it's a terrible, terrible idea, plenty of teenagers do get married. In fact, there was a 50 percent jump in teenage marriages in the '90s and, frighteningly enough, the National Center for Health Statistics says that in 2000, nearly half a million 15- to 19-year-olds in the U.S. were married.
Hopefully by this point I've scared all you impressionable young homos away from marriage—at least for a while.
But before you get all down in the dumps and start seeing if you can get a refund on your shiny new gay-marriage license, there are some practical upsides to getting married young.
If you're still in your mid-20s, you've probably amassed some crappy furniture and mismatched flatware. If you've got supportive friends and relatives, odds are good that they'll take pity on you and show up at your reception bearing gifts. Milk it. You'll get a lifetime supply of dish towels, duvet covers, and waffle makers.
Other upsides? According to some studies, you'll be having more and better sex than your single friends. You'll also no longer be solely responsible for doing the dishes, taking out the trash, or scooping the cat box—each reason enough to get married, if you ask me.
A final note: Even if your stupid, ill-advised young marriage doesn't work out, statistics say you'll probably get married again. But don't expect that marriage to last, either. Damn stats.