Should You Stop Your Teenager From Getting Married?

newly married couple
The winners of a Newlywed game night on Marine Corps Base Hawaii. (Ricky Gomez/DVIDS)

Imagine this, your son or daughter, fresh out of high school, comes home and announces they are getting married. To a service member. Cue the panic. You know that marriages that start young are not guaranteed to survive, but what can you do?

Here’s one such situation. Jeff’s 18-year old daughter is getting married. To a military guy just out of boot camp. And Jeff is an ex-submariner whose family has served in the military for five generations. To put it plainly, Jeff is freaking out.

“I am being overbearing and am dumping massive amounts of information on them,” Jeff admits. “Mostly negative. With quite a bit of emotion.”

Even though Jeff thinks his future son-in-law is a good guy and respects the fact that the young man is the first in his family to enlist, Jeff is worried. He says he wants the young couple to have some kind of premarital counseling from inside the military or at least be forced to get permission from the unit commander. He says he wants the name of a program or a service that could help.

Related: What Are the Military Marriage Laws and Rules

Which would be nice. But what I think Jeff really wants -- what I think the parents of a lot of military couples want -- is to know the right words to say that would convince this young couple that now is not the time to get married. Wait. Wait. Please, wait.

“I understand what they are faced with,” wrote Jeff. “Neither of them or his mother seem to be doing anything but planning a wedding -- without planning a marriage.”

Planning a marriage. Those three words might be exactly what all military couples (regardless of their age) need to do. So Jeff is on the right track there, but I’m not sure what to tell him next. What do you think?

How can Jeff as a father get the help he wants for his daughter?

There’s a lot that goes into a marriage, military or not. But one thing is for sure, parents who push too hard run the risk of pushing their child away. Explain as many facts as you can, and then support them no matter what.

Military life never stops offering opportunities to learn about love and marriage -- even after you leave the military.

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