In 2007, MTV aired two seasons of Engaged & Underaged, a docuseries about young couples preparing to walk down the aisle. The show was short-lived, but left a big impression on me… Although I’m still upset MTV canceled it, I’m hoping that Oxygen’s new Too Young to Marry? miniseries will be able to fill the void.
According to the original press release, Too Young to Marry? is a four-part series that examines the challenges young couples face as they prepare to wed: “With new episodes airing weekly, this heart-filled special follows opinionated teen couples who are determined to walk down the aisle with or without the blessing of their family and friends. With parents threatening to disown them, siblings accusing them of making the biggest mistake of their lives and friends pulling them in opposite directions, these young lovers must battle the odds to prove that age is just a number and love is all that matters.”
Even though the couples featured on the show believe “age is just a number,” a new survey from Oxygen and uSamp found that 82 percent of adults believe people can be too young to marry. Seventy-nine percent of those respondents said that’s because young individuals don’t know enough about themselves to make that commitment.
“I think everyone thinks that young couples can’t last but there’s an exception to every rule, because we’re unique people and our relationship is unique,” said Shanice, one of the young women featured on the show. “We hear that we won’t make it a lot, but at the end of the day, we move forward.”
Although public opinions didn’t sway Shanice’s decision to marry now-husband Bradley, their families almost succeeded in blocking the nuptials. Both sets of parents declined to give their consent, which is necessary for individuals younger than 21 in their home-state, Mississippi.
Determined, Shanice and Bradley went to Alabama — where they could legally marry at 18 — for the official ceremony. Even then, Bradley’s mother tried to intervene.
“I couldn’t believe what was going on,” Bradley said of his response when his mother stormed in. “I was nervous about that happening, and it did happen. I hear commotion and there’s my mom who shouldn’t be there in the first place. After the initial shock, I knew I couldn’t leave Shanice. After my mom left, we gathered the strength to keep going on.”
Jurnee and Don, another couple that will be featured on a later episode of the show, also faced resistance from their families. But, unlike Shanice and Bradley, their parents reluctantly came around.
“I told her she was kind of crazy to get married this young,” Jurnee’s mom told their hometown newspaper. “But she was insisting that when she turned 18, she was going to do it anyway.”
17-year-old Jurnee was also able to turn to her grandmother for advice — even though it was of the “what not to do” variety.
“At first I was leery about it, because I was married at 17,” Jurnee’s grandmother said. “Me and my husband ended up getting a divorce because we were so young, that we never really had a childhood.”
Jurnee’s grandmother’s experience is certainly more in line with normal experiences. According to Oxygen’s study, only 21 percent of adults who fell in love during their teenage years are still with that person.
See how the young couples’ experiences unfold during the premiere of Too Young to Marry? on Oxygen tonight at 10/9c.