DOLLY report: Underage and engaged
12:00AM, Jan 16 2013
The good, the bad and the ugly what can really happen when teens put a ring on it.
We'd be lying if we said we didn't get just a little bit jelly when 19-year-old Miley Cyrus announced her engagement to dreamy Liam Hemsworth. But while it's all glitz and glam for our Hollywood counterparts, the reality of being a teen bride is often very different cue upset parents, judgement from schoolmates and a whole lotta debt.
So while there might be nothing more frustrating than not being taken seriously when you're head-over-school-shoes in love (just ask Rachel and Finn when they were planning to dance down the aisle on Glee), how can you be sure getting hitched isn't going to be One. Big. Mistake? We checked in with psychologist Gemma Cribb from Equilibrium Psychology (equilibriumpsychology.com.au) to find out.
Happily Never After?
The fairytale might come true for some, but for others it can turn out to be only fiction. Aside from the practical problems of not being able to pay for a wedding or starting married life with just your pocket money, there's also the emotional damage that getting hitched too early can do to your relationship.
Although it might seem romantic and exciting at the time, Gemma says taking that leap when you're still discovering who you are and what you really want from life can make it hard for you to develop a sense of self and identity separate to your husband's. As a result, you're in danger of growing apart as you both mature into adults.
"You can be vulnerable to having doubts about your choice of partner later in life if things aren't going smoothly because you haven't had many relationships to compare to and to give you confidence that the problems you're facing are normal or not," says Gemma.
On top of that, if you have friends or family who aren't cool with it, you could end up alienating yourself from the people you care about.
This was the case for Emily, who got engaged as a 17-year-old high school student. "My teachers thought I was absolutely out of my mind," she says. "Kids in my classes didn't understand how I could be so sure about my future and give my freedom away. My friends thought it was romantic, but my fiancé's friends weren't all supportive. One of his mates went off at him for being 'stupid' and even stopped talking for a couple of months."
Emily's family, on the other hand, were supportive yet cautionary. "My parents were married young so they were very happy for me, but still wary that we were rushing things."
Is He "The One"?
While Emily says her fiancé's proposal took her by complete surprise, she didn't hesitate to say yes. "It wasn't ever part of my plan for the future to get engaged or married at 17, but when it happened I just knew it was the path I was meant to take."
Sure, nothing can beat that heart-thumping feeling of falling in love for the first time, but how can you be certain your boyfriend is the person you should commit to forever (and ever)? According to Gemma, you'll be sure when not only do you know everything about the other and still love each other, flaws and all, you feel comfortable and relaxed enough to talk to him about anything. "Maybe you've been through tough times and worked through it together," she explains. "Or there have been times where he has brought up needs or issues with you, even though he knows that they might not please you. But the main thing is, you feel you are important to him and he is motivated to make you happy."
Emily's advice to other teens? "Listen to your parents and friends and if you have any doubt that he might not be the one, then don't rush into anything. Some parents are right when saying their children are too young your parents know you best!"
When to press pause
Gemma says these warning signs might mean you should think twice before slipping on the bling:
• You aren't able to financially support yourselves.
• You're glued to each other and don't do anything separately.
• You aren't certain what you want for the future (e.g. where you want to live, if you want to travel, what work you want to do, if you want to have kids).
• You don't feel comfortable talking to each other about certain subjects or feelings you have.
• You worry about rejection or starting a fight if you do or ask for certain things.
YOUR SAY: Are you underage and engaged? Share your story in the comments below.
IN PICS: Miley's transformation from Disney starlet to scandalous teen.
Related video: Miley Cyrus confirms engagement.