Today, I’m sharing an article that I came across on Twitter some time ago and absolutely fell in love with. The article, “In Defense of Marrying Young” by Julie Shockley, was one I just felt I had to share. Now, I could leave the article as is and just say I agree, but instead I’m adding my two cents.
Below is the original article, with my comments added in bold and parentheses. And for information’s sake, we will both be 23 when we get married this April.
For every person who gets married at 23, there are three people who complain about people who get married at 23. (A point that drives me especially crazy considering that having children as a teen is celebrated by some people in my small hometown…) I’ll tell you upfront: when I got married I was 22. My husband was 28.
One of the first arguments a young engaged couple will get is that you, being a young pup in your early twenties, aren’t even a “you” yet, silly! You aren’t even fully formed! You don’t even know who you are! Although most young marries find this statement to be condescending, I respect and understand what they are trying to say. I hope, though, that I am never done changing, never done growing. I would not wait until I reach a point of stagnation to commit to another person—if I did I would be single forever. Instead, I look forward to growing and changing with my husband. That is the beauty of a wedding vow—that you promise to love the other person through all of life’s changes—even the ones that occur within you.
The most irritating argument I’ve come across is, “You haven’t even lived yet! Go out there and kiss a few frogs! Your twenties are for dating around and partying!” What’s most striking is the assumption that we all want what you want. (I don’t assume everyone wants to get married young. Why is it assumed that as a young 20-something all I do is party? I don’t! In fact, the most wild I’ve been since college was upwards of four glasses of wine—at home!)
At a young age I met one of the good ones. Not a creeper, not a liar, not a player, not a loser. We dated for three years. According to your rules of how my twenties should be spent, I should…what exactly? Break up with a person who treats me well, makes me laugh, has intelligence and ambition, who has the same values as I do—I should do this so I can date around? So I can struggle to find guys worthy of spending time with? So I can wade through the dating scene? As much as I sometimes romanticize that phase of life and how passionate and exciting it is, I also know that it’s full of frustration, anger, jealousy and insecurity. According to you I should break up with a good man so I could go search for a man just like him?
Not all of us want to sleep around and have casual sex. (Not getting into this in detail since family reads this, but let’s just say I’ve never done the casual sex thing—just my personal preference!) I was a little too neurotic and insecure for that game. Many of us date because we are searching for someone to be our partner in life. To create a family with. We enjoy the security of a relationship that has permanence. A lot of people shudder at those things—permanence, commitment, family. I don’t. I want those things, and when I got it, I kept it.
My parents married young and have been together 37 years. My husband’s family married young and have been together 42. (Both of our sets of parents actually got married younger than we are. My mom had me at 24. Both sets are still together and happy.) I’ll be the first to admit that I view marriage through rosy goggles secured with unicorn hair, but as biased as I may be, equally so are the critics of marriage in general and young marriage in particular.
We have all seen couples who anticipate their wedding more than they do their marriage. (Error number one here. I can’t wait for the wedding but ultimately? As long as I wear a pretty dress and come out of it with Mr. Otter as my husband, we can cancel everything else!) We have seen couples fail to grow and change together, so they change and grow apart. We have seen divorces after a few years, months or days. But these occur at all stages of life, with all ages of people. Even if you feel that it’s a mistake to get married so young, it is not your mistake to make. The increasingly pervasive ideology of “if I don’t agree with it then it’s wrong” has got to stop.
I do not claim that marriage is for everyone or that family is for everyone. So please don’t claim that young marriage should be for no one.
I definitely don’t advocate marrying young for everyone—I think it’s all about when you and your SO are ready to make that commitment. Heck, I don’t even advocate moving in together quickly like we did! But for us, this is the right choice. How old were you when you decided to tie the knot?