Down the aisle before crossing the stage, College students who tie the knot before graduation
In the era of commitment issues, read receipts and swiping right, the current romantic climate for college students is cloudy with a chance of single. Yet two GC students, Maddie Eads and Ansleigh Justice, have managed to break the norm by finding not only relationships in college, but marriages.
Eads, 21, a music therapy major, met her husband Joseph in January 2017 at a Passion City church conference. Two weeks after their first date, they became exclusive, nine months later he proposed, and by July 2018, the couple tied the knot.
The fast pace of the marriage was no concern to Eads, who said she and her husband had discussed marriage early on in their relationship.
“We kind of knew it was going to happen,” Eads said. “[Since] I’m still in school, we didn’t really know how that would work, but it worked.”
Justice, 23, faced a similarly quick jump into marriage as her husband Andrew is active in the military.
However, her unique situation posed uncertainty between the couple when they found out he was going to be stationed abroad shortly after they met.
“We thought we were going to be living in Germany, which would have been very interesting because I would still have to go to school here,” Justice said. “I had already registered for the next semester, [and] I was like, ‘How is this going to work?’”
The couple met on the dating app “Tinder” in May 2017 and were legally married by November 2017, which was followed by an official wedding with family and friends in February 2018.
Twelve days after their wedding, Andrew was deployed to Afghanistan. He will be coming home for the first time this upcoming November.
Justice’s early marriage became necessary in her situation due to her husband’s rigid duties in the military, yet Ead’s reasoning for tying the knot at 21 was less of an ultimatum.
“We just wanted to,” Eads said. “If we can get through this, we can get through anything.”
While Justice is experiencing a long distance marriage situation, Eads and Joseph live in a house together in Milledgeville, where he is able to work full time while she attends school.
His job at Golden Pantry supports the couple financially, but Ead’s parents still play a major role in helping the two out with money. She described her thankfulness for their support but said it can feel restricting at times.
“Obviously I’m very grateful for it because [I] do not have time for a job, [and] it’s hard because they still have that over us,” Eads said.
Justice’s parents, on the other hand, only pay for her phone bill because her husband is able to provide solid financial stability for the two through his military job.
Financial concerns are not the only challenges of getting married young. Eads explained that having a spouse is a circumstance many college students do not understand.
“My biggest fear of getting married in college was my social life [and that] people [would] be like, ‘Oh she’s married, she doesn’t want to hang out, or go to this event,’ but I want to,” Eads said.
The task of juggling a marriage, the responsibilities of “adulting” and obtaining a college degree also provide a measure of difficulty in relating to peers.
“I am living with a spouse, and we are legally bound to each other,” Eads said. “It’s different because [most students] come home after a long day, and they have roommates, [but] I have a family that I still have to provide for.”
Eryn Viscarra, lecturer of sociology, weighed in on the challenges of getting married young.
“I think it really depends on the individuals in the relationship, their maturity level and the quality of their relationship,” Viscarra said. “It could be benecial to have someone to come home to and provide that social and emotional support.
According to the CDC’s most recent U.S. statistics, both marriage and divorce are declining from previous years, with 827,261 divorces and 2,245,404 marriages in 2016, versus 944,000 divorces and 2,315,000 marriages in 2000.
While marital and education statistics are widely available from the past decade, numbers specifically dealing with college marriages are lacking, making it harder to judge the outcome of current college students’ marital success.
Getting married in the middle of pursuing a college degree was never the original plan for either Justice nor Eads, who both explained their big career aspirations for the upcoming years.
Justice’s husband supported her plans to graduate and nd a job in social media when they discussed their plans before getting married.
“Something that was really important to him was for me to finish school,” Justice said.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau statistics, marrying young is becoming outdated; the average age of a woman’s first marriage has risen from 24 years old in 1990 to 27.4 in 2017.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the projected number of women attending college as of Fall 2018 is 11.2 million, which is the highest number ever recorded and a possible explanation for the lack of early marriages.
Young women are prioritizing their college degrees over their marriage certificates now more than ever.
Though Eads and Justice got the wedding dress first, the cap and gown is right around the corner as they both prepare to graduate this upcoming December.