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Misaligned Young Marriage

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Two people marry in their teens or early twenties but it doesn't work out.

This work is a proposed Trope, Tropers can vote and offer feedback in the comments section below.
Proposed By:
Pichu-kun on Aug 8th 2017 at 7:59:25 AM
Last Edited By:
Pichu-kun on May 16th 2018 at 5:04:31 AM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

Kirito: Hey, do you think getting married was the worst mistake of our lives?
[Beat]
Asuna: W-W-What do you mean? Don't you wanna be married to me? I wanna be married to you! DON'T YOU LOVE ME?!?!?
Kirito: No! I mean, yes! I mean—
Left-Brain!Asuna: What the fu... What the hell are you doing?! THAT WAS OUR OUT!!
Right-Brain!Asuna: I dunno, I panicked!

Once upon a time, it was relatively commonplacenote  for people to marry in their early twenties or even as young as their preteens. In a time where life expectancies were low (due to high child death rates) and many mothers died during childbirth, getting married while they were young and fertile was the best option for many adults. Within the last 100 years or so, however, this has fallen by the wayside, especially in western countries. The need to get married as soon as possible is no longer an issue for most people. Courtship periods typically last years before an engagement occurs. If anything, getting married too young is seen as rash or a waste of youth. People are expected to have a few years of freedom and self-discovery before being tied into a committed marriage.

This trope is what happens when characters get married young, however it doesn't turn out as they had hoped. Maybe two teens feel they're meant for each other and marry as soon as legally possible. A few years after marriage, however, they realize that wasn't such a good idea. They thought they were the perfect couple, but it was just young love and they ultimately grew apart. Or maybe, they feel constrained by their marriage and want to go out and live their lives. It's even more troublesome when a child is involved. Maybe they aren't ready for kids or didn't even want kids.

This type of marriage can end up in multiple ways. The couple can end up staying in a strained marriage, other times they get divorced, while often times the father simply runs off. This also occurs with mothers, however it's more common for the dad.

Often leads to Teen Pregnancy. Also see Shotgun Wedding, Fourth Date Marriage, Awful Wedded Life, and Starter Marriage. Contrast with One True Love and First Girl Wins.


Examples:

Fan Works

  • Sword Art Online Abridged spoofs the cliched romance between the teenaged Kirito and Asuna by portraying them as two kids in way over their heads, doing what they think adults are "supposed" to do in a sexual relationship. The episode in which they marry involves a Masochism Tango where each one tries to heap more and more responsibility onto the relationship (adopting a child, then attempting to adopt two, then three, then an entire orphanage) to force the other to back out. They finally talk things out at the end of the episode after witnessing the death of their "daughter", and agree that while their marriage was the worst mistake they've ever made, they want to stay together as they genuinely enjoy each other's company.

Film — Animation

  • The art book to Treasure Planet explains that this is why Jim's dad ran off. He married the then-seventeen year old Sarah when he was nineteen. Sarah ended up pregnant not soon afterwards, but he ended up feeling confined in his marriage as he wasn't ready for a wife and children yet. Despite Jim trying to please his dad, he was very distant towards Jim. One day when Jim was eight he ran off for good. Jim hoped for years that he'd come back home however he ultimately realized that his dad was gone for good. This led to Jim becoming a bitter and angry teenager, especially at himself for not being good enough for his dad.
  • Subverting this is one of the plot points in Frozen. Barely eighteen-year old Anna meets twenty-three year old Hans and they decide within a few hours of meeting to get married. Everyone else believes this to be a terrible idea, especially since they only just met. They end up calling off the engagement once Hans' true nature comes out and he reveals he was just using Anna to get access to the Arendelle throne.

Film — Live Action

  • Nick Hurley from Flashdance exploited the All Girls Want Bad Boys allure to latch onto a rich heiress, and rise from the Wrong Side of the Tracks to a construction mogul. However, Nick never felt comfortable with the hoi polloi, and he has divorced Kate years ago. This almost derailed his romance with protagonist Alex Owens when Alex saw Nick with Kate at an opera gala. Nick later explained that this rendezvous was just making nice-nice with his ex, since both are members of the Pittsburgh Arts Council.
  • In The Crowd, John fells head-over-heels for Mary within minutes of meeting her. Mary is less interested. Eventually, they do fall in love and do get married, however their relationship is haunted by frequent bickering and unhappiness.

Light Novels

  • Ash's Disappeared Dad hasn't been discussed much in the Pokmon anime, however the novels Pocket Monsters: The Animation went into detail on his and Delia's relationship. The books were written by the lead director of the Kanto arc, Takeshi Shudo, however are only semi-canon as they contradict the anime multiple times. According to the book, Delia married Ash's dad in her teens and ended up giving birth to Ash at nineteen. Ash's dad however ran off one day on a Pokémon journey and never came back, likely failing (like many trainers) but still refusing to return home. Delia has since fallen out of love with him but has never formally divorced him.

Literature

  • The Tenant of Wildfell Hall: Helen Lawrence marries Bad Boy Arthur Huntington believing she can redeem him though The Power of Love. She quickly learns that she cannot and suffers through a miserable marriage for several years. She finally runs away when he threatens to corrupt their young son.

Music

  • Adam Again's frontman Gene Eugene and backing singer Riki Michelle got married in their late teens. The stress of a marriage they weren't prepared for crept into Gene's songwriting, and the band's last two albums were significantly darker than their prior work: Dig (written as their marriage was falling apart) and Perfecta (written right after their divorce).

Western Animation

  • Rick and Morty has this for Beth and Jerry, with the added complication that they married shortly after Jerry got Beth pregnant. Fast forward 17 years, and they have a very strained relationship that teeters on a divorce every so often.
  • Subverted in Jem. One episode had it appear as if Kimber, who is still a teen, was going to marry one of her boyfriends. Jerrica thought it was foolish and rushed, but decided to support her sister anyway. In the end, though, Kimber broke off the wedding while at the altar.

Feedback: 15 replies

Aug 9th 2017 at 4:16:39 AM

  • Corrected spelling (Misalinged).
  • Corrected punctuation (added periods at the ends of sentences).

Sep 1st 2017 at 11:20:38 PM

  • Rick And Morty has this for Beth and Jerry, with the added complication that they married shortly after Jerry got Beth pregnant. Fast forward 17 years, and they have a very strained relationship that teeters on a divorce every so often.

Oct 8th 2017 at 9:06:33 PM

Film

  • Nick Hurley from Flashdance exploited the All Girls Want Bad Boys allure to latch onto a rich heiress, and rise from the Wrong Side Of The Tracks to a construction mogul. However, Nick never felt comfortable with the hoi polloi, and he has divorced Kate years ago. This almost derailed his romance with protagonist Alex Owens when Alex saw Nick with Kate at an opera gala. Nick later explained that this rendezvous was just making nice-nice with his ex, since both are members of the Pittsburgh Arts Council.

Sep 13th 2017 at 6:01:13 PM

This might make a good page quote:

Kirito: Hey, do you think getting married was the worst mistake of our lives?
[Beat]
Asuna: W-W-What do you mean? Don't you wanna be married to me? I wanna be married to you! DON'T YOU LOVE ME?!?!?
Kirito: No! I mean, yes! I mean—
Left-Brain!Asuna: What the fu... What the hell are you doing?! THAT WAS OUR OUT!!
Right-Brain!Asuna: I dunno, I panicked!

And here's the corresponding entry.

  • Sword Art Online Abridged spoofs the cliched romance between the teenaged Kirito and Asuna by portraying them as two kids in way over their heads, doing what they think adults are "supposed" to do in a sexual relationship. The episode in which they marry involves a Machoism Tango where each one tries to heap more and more responsibility onto the relationship (adopting a child, then attempting to adopt two, then three, then an entire orphanage) to force the other to back out. They finally talk things out at the end of the episode after witnessing the death of their "daughter", and agree that while their marriage was the worst mistake they've ever made, they want to stay together and see where it goes.

Sep 13th 2017 at 6:32:34 PM

The Tenant Of Wildfell Hall: Helen Lawrence marries Bad Boy Arthur Huntington believing she can redeem him though The Power Of Love. She quickly learns that she cannot and suffers through a miserable marriage for several years. She finally runs away when he threatens to corrupt their young son.

Sep 21st 2017 at 7:13:43 AM

^^ Related/Subtrope but not identical.

Sep 21st 2017 at 1:35:37 PM

Music:

  • Adam Again's frontman Gene Eugene and backing singer Riki Michelle got married in their late teens. The stress of a marriage they weren't prepared for crept into Gene's songwriting, and the band's last two albums were significantly darker than their prior work: Dig (written as their marriage was falling apart) and Perfecta (written right after their divorce).

Mar 4th 2018 at 10:39:16 PM

Averted in One Tree Hill with Nathan and Haley, they both got married during their second year of High School. Although their marriage had problems, an example being when Haley decided to pursue her music career and kissed her music manager, the two managed to stay together, and they even had a child during the time jump after season 4.

Mar 7th 2018 at 10:30:54 PM

  • Tends to pop-up in Warrior Cats, mostly between inter-Clan pairings, as the cats in them tend to be young and rash. The main examples are with Bluestar and Oakheart, and Leafpool and Crowfeather.
    • Bluestar reflected on her time as Oakheart's mate as them being young and impulsive, and she regretted it as soon as she got pregnant from their one-night encounter, made worse when she had to give up her kits to RiverClan for a shot at the deputy position.
    • Leafpool and Crowfeather running away together caused a lot of problems. Leafpool got pregnant, while she was a medicine cat forbidden to have kits. Crowfeather, meanwhile, had to take a mate in his own Clan to prove himself loyal, and had a son he never really cared for. While they don't have regrets over it, they recognize that they were never meant to be mates, and acted too quickly.

Mar 30th 2018 at 10:21:42 AM

Literature:

  • In the Stardoc Spin Off novel Blade Dancer, Jakol Varena's parents are trapped in a loveless marriage because of this. They impulsively Chose each other as teens, but couldn't make their relationship work over the longer term. Unfortunately for them, Jorenians don't allow divorce.

Mar 30th 2018 at 11:43:36 AM

The popular conception of everyone marrying young in the pre-modern era is somewhat exaggerated. Historical accounts suggest that if their parents didn't arrange it the average person married in their twenties back then.

Also, the low average life expectancy was caused by high child mortality rates, if you made it to adulthood and there wasn't a plague or war in your area you could expect to live past 60.

Apr 20th 2018 at 10:58:17 PM

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