When you decide to get married at 23, strange things begin to happen. You start to hear a lot about how young you are. People pull you aside to ask if you’re pregnant despite all evidence to the contrary. If you’re lucky, a stranger from New York might call you crazy at your own bachelorette party. Apparently they just don’t do that up there. (They don’t really do it much down here either.)
After all, marriage has taken on a new role in our culture. It’s turned into something you do when you have the rest of your life all figured out. You know who you are, you have your dream job, and you’ve had those adventures in Europe. Settling down with your spouse is the last piece of the puzzle. Those of us who choose to marry young look foolish or even needy to those who are waiting.
You’ve probably seen a whole lot of statistics out there compiled by people a lot smarter than I am, and this is a complicated issue. In fact, there is no right answer for everyone. But there are a few things I’ve learned that might help you understand why I walked down the aisle confidently even though the odds seem stacked against us.
1. We had realistic expectations.
Here’s something you need to understand before you even think about getting married: marriage won’t make you happy. Marriage isn’t the end of the movie cherry on top it’s cracked up to be. It’s hard. It’s time-consuming. It’s wonderful, but it won’t solve your problems or transform you or your partner into a happier person. Getting married is like holding a magnifying glass up to all of your qualities – good and bad. This will make you a better person if you let it, but if you don’t know it’s coming you’ll have a rough go of it. This is true whether you’re 18 or 40. If you have realistic expectations, and I think we did thanks to premarital counseling, then it’s going to be a lot easier to handle.
2. Your life doesn’t end when you get married.
I’ve heard a lot of people say that if you get married young, you lose opportunities to travel the world or go after your dreams. This is simply not true. Marriage does require sacrifices, yes, but if you really want to go after something and you’ve found a supportive partner, there is absolutely no reason you can’t go for it. In fact, the extra support of a spouse when you’re pursuing a difficult goal or even just going on an adventure can make that experience even richer.
3. Life is short.
I actually never planned on marrying young, but when I was lucky enough to find someone I get along well with, someone who pushes me to be better, I didn’t want to spend any more of my life without him. I don’t have a dazzling resume or piles of money, and I sure don’t have it all figured out. I probably never will. But that’s not what it takes to build a marriage. It takes maturity, a sense of humor, and the desire to put a lot of miles on your relationship.
So tell me what you think in the comments. Is it a good idea to get married young, or should more people wait?