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A test of love

The sound of ocean waves are heard in the distance as a reggae sounding tune is played on an accompanying piano.

Gulls cry overhead as a soft breeze lifts Kelsey Ahern’s white veil while she walks down an aisle lined with palm trees and leafy fronds. She stops at the steps of a white veranda and reaches for the hand of her best friend and soul mate Luke Ahern.

As the 21-year-olds recite their vows and kiss for the first time as husband and wife, the worries and pressures that are associated with college students are far from their minds.

But unlike other newlyweds, the Aherns still must worry about textbook prices, tuition and graduation after the honeymoon is over. Though they are married, they still are enrolled as students at Bowling Green State University.

‘When we first got engaged, a lot of people said we were too young to get married, especially because we were still in college,’ Kelsey said. ‘But I want people to know that it’s OK to get married when you’re in college if you truly love your significant other.’

Although the Aherns were told to expect a number of extra stressors because of their decision to get married while in college, Kelsey said the couple has had a relatively easy time balancing their romantic and educational lives.

‘We make life work even though we don’t have a lot of money or luxury,’ Kelsey said. ‘We have fun together, and that makes life easier.’ ‘

And though the Aherns may feel they are mature enough to be married while enrolled in college, many other couples choose to wait according to the 2007 results of a marriage survey conducted by the Census Bureau.

According to the survey, the median age of first marriage for men is 27.5, while women are normally 25.9 when they choose to take the plunge.

For sophomore Brittany Jarvie, waiting to get married doesn’t seem unreasonable for students who are still taking classes and involved in campus activities.

‘I’m engaged right now, but I don’t plan on getting married until I graduate from college,’ Jarvie said.

Because her fianc’amp;eacute; – 19-year-old Marvin Javier – lives in Alabama, Jarvie is not pressured by typical hassles that other couples might face, she said.

Having Javier so far away has actually worked to benefit the couple over the three years they have been dating because Jarvie has not been distracted by relationship problems, she said.

According to Dr. Monica Longmore, a sociology professor teaching here at the University, many couples like Jarvie and Javier choose to wait for marriage because it is much more standard for people to complete school before tying the knot, she said.

‘Women want to pursue career goals and that’s why the trend is towards later marriages,’ Longmore said. ‘Going to law school or medical college is something that women are becoming associated with, and getting married early can alter that path to success.”

However, there are engaged couples who have managed to make their personal and professional lives blend together successfully.

For juniors Auri Hugi and Sam Starkey, finding a way to make their lives mix is one of the reasons why they are so successful as a couple.

‘I’m someone who’s always stressed out and pessimistic and he can make me have a good time if he’s there – I can be myself,’ Hugi said. ‘I’m a different person when I’m with him and I like who that person is.’

Although the couple doesn’t plan on getting married until May 23, 2009, they have set down plans for what they’re going to be doing afterwards.

According to Hugi, Starkey will be applying for enrollment at a North Carolina law school in November. The couple will hopefully be moving after Starkey’s acceptance into the school, allowing Hugi to pursue her career as an early childhood teacher.

And though Hugi has been planning her life after the wedding down to the last detail, she’s more focused on the actual wedding itself.

‘Like all little girls, I always dreamed of the perfect wedding when I was younger,’ she said. ‘I’m always looking up stuff on my favorite wedding Web sites, trying to get everything just right – my friends make fun of me.’

In an effort to keep the wedding plans from interfering with her schoolwork, Hugi plans on getting a majority of the wedding planning done this summer.

However, when faced with the median age of marriage and being classified as underage, Hugi hopes she can keep the stereotypes from interfering with her marriage.

‘He’s my soul mate and I know we’ll stay together regardless of what the median says.’

And though all three girls have never been happier, there are still problems that could arise later in life because of their early marriages, Longmore said.

‘Getting married when you’re 22 or 40 are ages that bug the trend and because it’s not like everyone else, it makes things more difficult,’ she said. ‘When your friends are out partying, no one’s to say you can’t, but it makes things more complicated if you’re married.’

‘Young people often don’t realize that marriage and dating are completely different concepts, and that can sadly end in disaster for those who just aren’t ready,’ Longmore said.

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