Can You Stop a 18-Year-Old From Getting Married?

Jeff’s 18-year old daughter is getting married. Considering the chances of a teen marriage lasting even ten years, that is problem enough. (See my related column about marrying young here.) But Jeff’s daughter is marrying a military guy just out of boot camp. And Jeff is an ex-submariner whose family has served in the military for five generations. Jeff is freaking out.

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

I can just imagine. Even though Jeff thinks his future son-in-law is a good guy and respects the fact that the young man is the first ever 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.

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. I thought I would bring it to you. How can Jeff as a father get the help he wants for his daughter? Can 18-year olds really be capable of planning a marriage? Can 18-year-olds be convinced not to marry? What is the best way Jeff can handle his own role in this situation?

Military life never stops offering opportunities to learn about life and love and marriage — even after you leave the military. What is the best thing that Jeff can do now?

About Jacey Eckhart

Jacey Eckhart is the former Director of Spouse and Family Programs for Military.com. Since 1996, Eckhart’s take on military families has been featured in her syndicated column, her book The Homefront Club, and her award winning CDs These Boots and I Married a Spartan?? Most recently she has been featured as a military family subject matter expert on NBC Dateline, CBS morning news, CNN, NPR and the New York Times. Eckhart is an Air Force brat, a Navy wife and an Army mom. Find her at JaceyEckhart.net.