Marriage Pressure Weighs on Brigham Young U. Students

By By U Wire

By U Wire

Lani DameThe Daily Universe Brigham Young University

PROVO?Seventy-five percent of the Brigham Young University student body is single, yet marriage is a common topic of discussion, banter and concern.

Because of this concern and other pressures, students may rush into a commitment they are not prepared for and do not fully understand.

“In a culture and religion which puts a priority on family and marriage, many people feel a sense of urgency,” said Richard Moody, assistant clinical professor of counseling psychology at the Counseling Center.

Moody said some pressure from bishops and professors does exist, but it’s not as common as students believe.

Becca Demary, 19, a sophomore from Granby, Mass., majoring in dietetics, said there is more pressure to date and get married in BYU’s environment than at home because people have similar values here.

Randy Bott, professor of religion, said he has observed the difference between pressures at BYU compared with other schools.

While teaching at Duke and North Carolina State, Bott said he noticed the students were more career oriented and the pressure to date and marry young was not as great compared to BYU.

“You live in a society where there are certain windows imposed by society on what is the optimal time to get married and date,” Bott said.

Students need to be aware of these societal windows, he said.

Bott came up with a theory based on his observations called the ‘windows of opportunity’ that gives an age range in which men and women have the best opportunity to get married.

For women the age range is between 20 and 24. For men, the age range is from 21 until 28, he said.

This may be too young, according the U.S. Census Bureau report for 2000. The median age at first marriage for those 15 years and older was 25.1 for women and 26.8 for men.

Bott said that he is in favor of students waiting until they know that they are on the same page socially, religiously and intellectually before marriage in order to prevent problems and divorce.

Even if students do not feel great pressure to get married young, to leave BYU married is believed to be a must.

“You don’t want to be single when you graduate,” said John Melonakos, 22, a sophomore from Hickory, N.C., majoring in electrical engineering.

Those who are not married or engaged may feel frustrated with the dating scene.

Trying to be more approachable, taking risks by being more transparent and just being friends are ways students can have a more successful dating experience, Moody said.

“Sometimes people look at their time at BYU as their only window to get married,” Moody said. “Some of the best marriages happen outside of the context of BYU.”