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Archive for Monday, August 17, 2009

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Waiting for the right moment: Local couples find their own timing for marriage

Kellee and Gary Pratt pose in front of a bowl of X's and O's, which they say they bought as a table decoration because the two text message one another constantly and always sign the messages with X's and O's.

Kellee and Gary Pratt pose in front of a bowl of X's and O's, which they say they bought as a table decoration because the two text message one another constantly and always sign the messages with X's and O's.

August 17, 2009

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Kellee and Gary Pratt, Lawrence, pose in front of a movie premier poster they had for guests to sign at their movie-themed wedding at Liberty Hall.  The couple chose a movie-themed wedding because of their shared love of the cinema.

Kellee and Gary Pratt, Lawrence, pose in front of a movie premier poster they had for guests to sign at their movie-themed wedding at Liberty Hall. The couple chose a movie-themed wedding because of their shared love of the cinema.

Angela and Brett Folks.

Angela and Brett Folks.

Lawrence couple Gary and Kellee Pratt sometimes wonder what their lives would have been like had they found each other sooner.

But it’s not a thought that holds them for too long. Each married for the first time in their 20s, and it wasn’t until their 40s, after their previous marriages had ended in divorce, that they took a second go at marriage.

“Some people are lucky enough to find their true partner for life early on,” says Kellee Pratt, 42. “I know that wasn’t the case for me, nor for my husband.”

The Pratts say they wouldn’t have minded meeting a bit sooner, but they are glad they didn’t meet in their 20s when both feel they weren’t ready for marriage.

“I wouldn’t go too far back,” says Gary Pratt, 43, “because if you meet somebody at a young age, you don't really know who you are. I really know who I am now.”

So, what time is right?

Statistics show that many Kansas couples are delaying marriage. The percentage of new brides under the age of 20 has shrunk from nearly 15 percent in 1988 to about 8 percent in 2007, according to reports from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. And the statistics for new grooms has dropped as well, from about 6 percent in 1988 to 3 percent in 2007.

In 2007, the latest year reported, the average age was 30 for Kansas brides and 32 for grooms. First-time brides had an average age of 25, and grooms were 27 on average.

Lining up almost perfectly with those numbers are Kate Shipley and Ben Gleeson, who will be 25 and 26, respectively, on their June 2010 wedding day. Being part of the average seems right to the Lawrence couple, who met as sophomores at Kansas University.

“I never wanted to get married when I was really young. I never wanted to get married until I graduated college,” Shipley says. “I wanted more life experiences, a more mature perspective on my life.”

Another way they line up with the statistics? They are living together before their wedding day — buying their first house together this summer. Nationally, the number of unmarried couples who live together has been on the rise for decades, according to statistics from The National Marriage Project at Rutgers. In 1980, nearly 1.6 million couples of the opposite sex cohabitated, according to the project’s State of Our Unions 2008 report. That number rose to 6.4 million in 2007.

“I don’t really think the relationship changes between the day before the wedding and the day after the wedding,” Gleeson says. “I think a lot of it is other people’s perceptions and legal standing.”

One statistic Shipley and Gleeson don’t plan on coinciding with is the divorce rate. On average, the ratio of marriages to divorces is 2-to-1 in Kansas and nationally. And in 2007 the most common age group for marriage dissolutions was among 25- to 29-year-olds.

Paul Hahn, a marriage and family therapist with Hahn Marital Therapy, 4105 W. Sixth St., says he believes the divorce and cohabitation numbers go hand-in-hand.

“So many, many of those 20-year-olds grew up in broken homes, and in their adolescence they saw and experienced in their own lives how painful divorce can be,” Hahn says. “And I think one of the reasons why we have so much cohabitation and such a high divorce rate is that we have a generation of young people who on one hand don’t believe in marriage and on the other hand haven’t had examples set for them in their families of how to maintain a marriage.”

Shipley and Gleeson both consider themselves lucky in that regard — both their parents are still married and have, according to the couple, set good examples.

“I don’t think I’m jaded,” Shipley says. “I wish that everyone could get married, that’s one thing I have a problem with, but barring that, it seems like marriage is a pretty solid way to make a commitment to someone for your whole life.”

Kellee Pratt says that an early flaw in her first marriage was that she didn’t know what she wanted for her life other than a chance to make that commitment.

“I didn’t know myself as well back then as I do now,” she says. “I honestly thought, ‘I’m in a small college town, and maybe this is my only chance to get married.’ I can’t believe I used to think that.”

Hahn says that from his experience, it’s common to place a deadline for marriage.

“There is sometimes that cultural expectation of when you’re supposed to get married, according to the date of your birth,” Hahn says. “But really, age is really just a number. The big issue for couples to consider is, ‘Am I mature?’”

Newlyweds Angela and Brett Folks say they believe that. Though Angela was just 24 on her October 2008 wedding day, she says after two-and-a-half years of dating, they knew they were ready.

“I feel like we’re both mature and we wanted to be together,” Folks says. “We just kind of knew that it was the right time.”

Comments

Leslie Swearingen 5 years ago

CMM can refer to:

* Coordinate-measuring machine, a device for dimensional measuring
* Capability Maturity Model, tool for assessing processes in organizations (used in software development)
* Center for Mathematical Modeling (CMM), a research institute in Chile
* Commander of the Order of Military Merit, a Canadian decoration
* Conflict Management and Mitigation, an office of USAID
* Congregation of the Missionaries of Mariannhill
* Coordinated Management of Meaning, a communications theory
* Corpus mensurabilis musicae, a collection of polyphonic vocal music of the Renaissance
* Caddo Parish Middle Magnet School, a school in Shreveport, Louisiana, known as Caddo Middle Magnet
* Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha, a political party in India
* Crying Macho Man, a satirical comic strip created by Jose Cabrera
* Chad Michael Murray, an American actor
* Color Matching Method, a term in color management
* Coal Mine Methane

Which one of these do you mean?

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imwithstupid 5 years ago

I really like the movie poster that the Pratt's had on their wall. I would like to know where they got that or did they photoshop it? If anyone knows please post. I love movies and think that's a cute idea.

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lynnlouise 5 years ago

Kellee and Gary are true soul mates! They are crazy about each other! Im so glad they found each other!

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flux 5 years ago

Does Angela really have a portrait of her self on the wall behind her?

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mae 5 years ago

heh, engaged for years here!!! no use getting married in ks.

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IrishJayhawk65 5 years ago

Imwithstupid~the Pratts' poster was created at Universal Studios. They take your pic and digitally insert your face into whatever movie poster you choose. Worked out so well we decided to use it as part of our movie themed wedding. All we did was put it into a wide matte frame so people could sign at the reception. Great fun!!

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password 5 years ago

what's up with the hair on the back side of Angela's head? I wonder if she got that done at pro-cuts or did it herself? either way it's way wierd.

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Dan Spurgin 5 years ago

Will we be reading a similar story in 20 years about how 3 times a charm? Leave it to the LJW to break this kind of HOT and EXCITING news. Someone has to stick up for the victims of their first marriages! Hey-ohhhh! ;P

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labmonkey 5 years ago

One reason to be against gay-marriage: not only should homosexuals be allowed to marry...noone should be allowed to get married.

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labmonkey 5 years ago

Hopefully Mrs. Labmonkey doesn't see the prior post :)

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jengaman 5 years ago

Keeping trying Irish. With close to 2,000 posts on here I'll assume you have time during the day to investigate it more.

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LisaMarie24 5 years ago

I am Angela's older sister. When I heard about this story and when she told me about the picture being in the paper, I couldn't wait to look it up on the internet (since I don't live in Lawrence). Instead, what I found (and what I was reminded of) was just how mean and hateful people can be. No, my sister doesn't have a portrait of herself hanging behind her. And, someone who posts a comment about the way another person's hair looks really needs to grow up. What is this, grade school? Angela and Brett are happy together, will be celebrating their first wedding anniversary this October and they just bought a new house. They are lucky to have found each other. Sure, all marriages don't work out. But, as one person commented, I do challenge the newspaper to follow up 5 or 10 years down the road and see where these two couples are and how both of their marriages have panned out. I would be willing to bet that Angela and Brett are still just as happy as they were when I stood beside them on their wedding day and watched them say their vows.

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