The Great American Controversy Over Underage Marriage [Part E]

in news •  last year

[Please Read Part A, Part B, Part C And Part D Of This Article Before Reading The Segment Below] 

My Personal Experiences With Events Encompassing Teenage Marriage

When I was 11 years old, my sister, who was 16 years old at the time, took her 18-year-old friend, Karen, and me over to a house to visit with this one 15-year-old friend of theirs named Connie. Much to my shock, Connie was pregnant, and she was cohabitating with the nearly 30-year-old father of her unborn baby; and this man’s name was Daryl. The area where she was living looked rough, and up until then, I had never met anyone like her or her live-in boyfriend. Unbeknownst to me, my sister and Karen had also befriended Daryl inasmuch as he provided them with liquor, which they normally would not have had access to because of their age. After my sister took me home and my mother found out where my sister had taken me, my mother went berserk on my sister and screamed at her never to take me anywhere near Daryl again. I don’t believe that Daryl was gay or that he would have tried anything on me, but I didn’t even like him before I had met him inasmuch as I thought that he was no asset to Connie’s life.

Not too long thereafter, I found out from my sister and Karen that Daryl had regularly beat on Connie, even though she was pregnant with his child. I also eventually found out from them that Connie had gotten an abortion when she was 13 years old. Some of you are probably wondering how Daryl got away with this living arrangement, even though Connie was a minor below the statutory age of consent. Well, he and Connie had people believing that Connie was his cleaning woman. However, I still knew that her baby belonged to Daryl, and I would feel somewhat silly whenever I would refer to her as Daryl’s cleaning woman; and my sister and Karen would both giggle at me then. My mother had sniped at Daryl over the telephone once and had threatened to phone the police on him if he didn’t send my sister and Karen home, because she knew that he was illegally providing them with booze.

Daryl was definitely every teenage girl’s parents’ nightmare. He had a beer belly, and he had that Charles Manson look in that his hair was long and straggly and his beard and mustache were ratty-looking. After Connie gave birth to her first child with him, Daryl continued to get her pregnant again and again. I heard about Daryl in bits and pieces during the five intervening years between the time I was 11 years old and the time I was 16 years old. He and Connie had attended a wedding of one of my sister’s friends, and he told my parents that he never wanted to get married despite that he had fathered more than one baby with Connie.

When I was 16 years old, one time when my mother and I were visiting my sister and Karen at a rented residence that they were sharing, Karen had invited this one male friend of hers who was in his early twenties to visit them at their residence. This young man had his girlfriend with him, and she was only 15 years old. Somehow the subject of Connie and Daryl came up in the conversation among all of us. Karen told us all that Daryl had been cheating on Connie in that he had been running around on her with 12-year-old girls. By then, Daryl was well into his thirties. I barely reacted to that piece of news, but I began to think that these middle school girls either had to be juvenile delinquents or troubled youths if they were interested in a walking freak show like Daryl. The man in his early twenties who was participating in our conversation commented that he thought what Daryl was doing was not at all “cool.” What made this young man’s comment so ironic was that here he was a man in his early twenties dating a 15-year-old girl, and even he thought that Daryl was out of line for running around on Connie with 12-year-old girls. After so many years after these incidents, I began to understand why people found age-of-consent laws to be necessary. However, my main point here is that Daryl never had any intentions of marrying Connie or any of the preteen girls with whom he was involved. Therefore, I still stand by my position on keeping underage marriage legal here in our nation.

When I got to college, I became friends with this young man named Bobby, who was also the same age as me. I was amazed at how much alike he and I thought, even though we came from two different types of backgrounds. I had grown up in a middle-class suburb 35 miles outside a city, and Bobby had grown up in a small town and he was someone of humble beginnings. There was even this one girl at our college that we both liked. After I had found out that he liked this same girl and he had told me that he ate lunch with her at the college cafeteria, instead of getting jealous at him, I just giggled and said, “Oh, my gosh, Bobby. How much alike can we get? Now I find out that we’re attracted to the same girl.” Bobby just chuckled, and even he was astonished that I had an interest in this same girl.  

Anyhow, one time Bobby and I were talking about our respective families, and Bobby revealed to me that his 15-year-old sister had gotten married. I then told him that my great aunt on my mother’s side of the family was 15 years old when she got married, and the man whom she married was in his twenties at the time. I then said to him that she, of course, had gotten married in a time era when it wasn’t so uncommon for girls that young or even younger to get married. I asked him how his parents had felt about it when his sister had asked them for permission to get married at that age. He responded to me that they had no problem with it, because his father was 22 years old and his mother was 15 years old when his parents got married. He told me that his parents had been happily married right up to that moment in time. I then smiled at him, and I said that it would be kind of different to have parents who had married at those ages. Bobby then admitted to me that his family was poor and that he had gotten to go to college on scholarships. I gathered then and there that his family must have been very proud of him.

Bobby was the oldest child in his family, and he never really told me whether his mother was pregnant with him or not when his parents got married. His parents were religious. Therefore, I could probably assume that they were married before they consummated their relationship with each other. In any event, as I look back on that chapter of my life and I consider the possibility that perhaps Bobby’s parents might have gotten married because of an unplanned pregnancy, I can be most certain that Bobby would not have had the quality of life that he did at that point in time if his father had gone to prison on a statutory rape conviction and had been ordered to go on the sex offender registry upon his release from prison. Bobby probably would not have even made it to college, and he and I would never have met and become friends.

Whenever people hear or read a story about an adult man marrying his pregnant teenage girlfriend somewhere here in the United States of America, society has a propensity to get up on its moral high horse and wish everything tragic upon the adult man. However, each and every one of you needs to realize that this adult man could be a relative of yours or the family member of a close friend of yours. I once read an online article about a 22-year-old gentleman who got locked up for getting his 15-year-old girlfriend pregnant in New York back in 1988, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo subsequently pardoned him for the statutory rape conviction, which gave this man and his family back their lives.  When public officials begin to question the fairness of our age-of-consent laws and the laws encompassing them, then that is when I believe that we as Americans need to question the integrity of the Puritanical Establishment that appears to mold our domestic policies and our public laws to this very day.

When I first began working for the public sector, there was this one woman in my office who told me that her mother had gotten married at 13 years old and had started having kids shortly thereafter. She admitted that her father was significantly older than her mother. However, she never saw that one fact as a problem, and she said that her parents did a terrific job at raising her and her siblings.

When my cousin was 30 years old, he met his current wife. She was only 15 years old at the time. However, despite their age difference, they both fell in love with each other immediately. A year later, my cousin married his wife, and they have been happily married for over 30 years now. Some people reading my article may question how such a relationship could have come about; but regardless of what anyone may have to say about my cousin, I know for a fact that he is not a child predator and he has never been one. How do I know? Allow me to tell you about an incident that occurred only four years after he married his wife. When my cousin’s stepdaughter was just four years old, a bald-headed man accosted her and even attempted to molest her. After my cousin found out, he confronted this man and told him that he was going to kill him if he ever got near his stepdaughter again. The bald-headed man got the message loud and clear and never bothered my cousin’s stepdaughter ever again. The point I am trying to make is that my cousin could never be a child predator, because conventional wisdom holds that one child predator does not protect a preschooler from another child predator. My cousin has always protected his wife and his family. I respect and think highly of him for his integrity as a family man.

When my parents traveled to Staten Island, New York to visit with my paternal grandfather while his sister, who was my great aunt, was visiting, my great aunt got into a conversation with them about the old days. My great aunt described an occurrence from when she and a friend of hers were both 16 years old. She told my parents that she and her friend used to flirt with this one 24-year-old man from their house window. My great aunt said that if this 24-year-old man had offered to court either one of them, their parents would not have objected inasmuch as society did not attach a stigma to a young adult man becoming romantically involved with an adolescent girl back in those days. She explained that once a girl started noticing the opposite sex back in those days, there was no stigma attached to her intermingling with a boy or a man outside her own age circles. Of course, my great aunt was an elderly woman by the time that she had told my parents that story.

After I moved to New York City when I was just 21 years old, I began working with a gentleman named Jose whose father was American and whose mother was Honduran. He and I became good friends. He eventually told me that when his parents got married, his mother was 15 years old and his father was well into his thirties. I never got the chance to meet his parents; but from what he told me about them, they were happily married and they were always good to their kids. Jose told me that his father had even once helped him out of a difficult situation. In any event, from everything that Jose told me about his father, it was clear that his father was not a sexual predator of any kind.

After I had moved out to California, one summer when I was back East visiting with my immediate family, my mother and I decided to take a road trip down the Atlantic coastline. We stayed at this one hotel in the mid-Atlantic region. We met this one couple that were living together, and the woman in the couple had a little girl with her who was perhaps 2 or 3 years old. The woman in the couple was named Starr, who I mentioned earlier in this article. She was 25 years old. One evening she and my mother got into an involving conversation. Starr told my mother that she had become pregnant at 14 years old with her then-24-year-old boyfriend’s baby, and she married him immediately; and she had given birth to her first child at the age of fifteen. Her marriage to her first husband may not have lasted forever. Then again, 50 percent of all marriages in our nation end in divorce regardless of the ages of the people who enter into them. Starr told us that her oldest daughter and oldest child was 10 years old at the time of our conversation, and she was having difficulty with her classes. Starr then told us that her ex-husband had purchased a program called “Hooked On Phonics,” and he was helping their daughter get beyond her academic difficulties by tutoring her with that program. That was when I told Starr about my great aunt on my mother’s side of the family who had married a 24-year-old man when she was just 15 years old. In any event, it became quite clear to me that Starr’s 10-year-old daughter would not have had the quality of life that she did and she would not even have had her father to help her out with her schooling if he had gone to prison for a lengthy period of time and then had to live the rest of his life on the sex offender registry.

When I first started working at a call center so many years ago, there was this one woman named Beatriz in my office. She was in her early twenties. She came out and told everyone that when her parents got married, her mother was 14 years old and her father was 26 years old. Beatriz told me that she had a sister who was 39 years old at the time of that conversation. Therefore, it was apparent that her parents had been married for close to 40 years. I never got the opportunity to meet Beatriz’s parents; but from what she told me, they appeared to be a happy couple. This is yet another piece of evidence that these marriages can and have worked.

[Article Continued In Part F]

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