America’s favorite duck-hunting family is in the news again.
John Luke Robertson, the son of Duck Commander CEO Willie Robertson and wife, Korie, proposed to girlfriend Mary Kate McEacharn on his Oct. 11 birthday. According to John Luke, both families are supportive and “thrilled.”
While it seems most people are happy with the couple’s plans to wed, there is one thing some people seem to be criticizing: the couple’s tender age.
John Luke is only 19 years old.
In his blog post describing their engagement, he wrote:
“Some people say we are too young. I have heard all the stories and all the advice. I have come to the conclusion that a lasting marriage does not depend on when you get married.”
John Luke is certainly in the minority when it comes to marrying young. According to Pew Research Center, the “median age at first marriage has never been higher for brides (26.5 years) and grooms (28.7).”
But are they really “too young” to get married?
What really matters in a marriage
While a 2010 study found there is some benefit to couples waiting until they are at least in their mid-20s before they get married, age is not the only indicator of maturity or of a marriage’s likely success. There are many couples who marry in their 30s and beyond who don’t go the distance.
So how does a young man or woman know if it’s wise to take that next step?
Our Family Ministries team gives us five guidelines to help couples know if they’re ready for marriage.
- A growing faith
“The divorce rate among Christians is significantly lower than the general population,” writes Focus marriage expert Glenn Stanton. “Couples who regularly practice any combination of serious religious behaviors and attitudes – attend church nearly every week, read their Bibles and spiritual materials regularly; pray privately and together; generally take their faith seriously, living not as perfect disciples, but serious disciples – enjoy significantly lower divorce rates than mere church members, the general public and unbelievers.”
- Financial independence
It’s not a good sign if your marriage survival plan includes depending on parents to bail you out at the end of the month, or on credit card use. On the flip side, however, financial independence doesn’t mean a couple must be able to afford luxuries like an expensive honeymoon, a large home, or a new car right out of the gate. Many times, couples need to sacrifices for a season or two before they are comfortable – and that’s OK.
- Ability to communicate well and handle conflict
No matter how compatible a couple may be, there will be times of disagreement and conflict. It’s important that both husband and wife are capable and willing to work through those situations without insults or closing off their hearts to each other. Both should have the maturity to extend and receive forgiveness.
- Realistic expectations for marriage and your spouse
Christian marriages should certainly experience joy and be love-filled, but they still require a lot of work. Committing to someone for life requires sacrifice – and that’s not always easy. That’s why a person is only ready for marriage when they understand being married won’t be unending bliss and when they don’t expect perfection from their spouse.
- Affirmation from family and friends
It’s a good idea for young people to take into consideration the counsel and perspective of their parents and close friends – those who know and love the couple the best. Parental wisdom goes a long way in honestly and lovingly evaluating a young man’s or woman’s ability to handle the responsibilities of marriage.
I’m encouraged by the way John Luke finished his reflection on their decision to marry while still young:
“A lasting marriage depends on how forgiving you are and how much you love God Almighty. Those are the things that hold people together.”
It sounds like he understands something very important about marriage. I, for one, appreciate John Luke’s and Mary Kate’s bold witness for biblical marriage in a culture that seems increasingly confused.
I’m interested in hearing from you: What do you think about getting engaged and married young? What do you think are some indicators that a couple is ready to wed? If you’re a parent, what advice do you give your children?
On a related note, I wanted to let you know Phil and Al Robertson just released their “Duck Commander Faith and Family Bible” that focuses on the Robertsons’ five core values: faith, family, fellowship, forgiveness and freedom. The Bible includes 30 testimonials, 125 articles on the top 25 Bible search topics from Phil and Al, as well as Bible reading plans.
My good friend Bob DeMoss worked with Phil and Al on this project as the general editor. He helped them cull through years of their sermons for the articles and can’t speak highly enough of their character and commitment to Christ.
You can purchase the “Duck Commander Faith and Family Bible” from Focus’ online bookstore.