New Insights Into Marrying Young
Up until a couple years ago, I thought I would go ballistic if ever my child at, say, 21 years of age, told me he/she wanted to get married. I was a firm believer in dating around, living life independently, and finishing college (at least) before marriage. I mean, that was fine if other people wanted to get married young, but I sure didn’t want my kids leaping in to something so serious at such a young age.I was actually a bit embarrassed that I got married as young as I did at 22 turning 23. But at least, I rationalized to myself, I had one year of grad school under my belt, one year of living in Europe, and a year of living by myself in my own apartment.
I think things did work out beautifully for me and Mike. He was 27 and finishing up grad school at the time of our marriage. We actually lived apart for the first 5 months of our married life as he finished up classes on the East Coast and I continued with my program on the West Coast. Though sometimes I have slight twinges of envy when I hear about the exciting lives of some of my single friends, I’ve never had a moment’s regret over marrying Mike when I did.
Over the last couple of years, my feelings about getting married young have started to change. I’ve met friends who got married in their very early 20’s, and have made a great life together. They’ve been able to grow, mature, and decide together what academic and career paths to take. Together their faith has matured and been nuanced. Together they’ve gone to other countries to teach English. Together they’ve become real adults.
When I see my couple friends who have gelled so nicely, I sometimes joke that Mike was too well formed, too set in his ways, when I married him. We have a fantastic marriage, but we haven’t grown together like others I know. We remain in different political parties. We remain with different approaches to living out our Mormon faith. We remain, well, very different.
While I like the idea of maturing together into adulthood, my change of heart really is due to conversations with some single friends. My best friend from high school recently broke up with her boyfriend of four years, the man she was convinced she would marry. But after giving the guy lots of time, he wasn’t ready for marriage so she was forced to break it off.
She came over to my home the other day and with tears in her eyes told me that she was now approaching 31, and that she should have been married by now, she should have had a baby by now. That this guy took the best years of her life, and how was she ever going to meet someone new and start again? My heart went out to her. And I’m worried that it will indeed be hard for her to meet new people since she’s a bit shy and dislikes bar scenes.
From talking to her, and to other single friends, I’ve learned how hard it can be to find someone when you’re getting into your 30’s. I’ve spent several hours worrying about my friends, hoping and praying that they will find the relationships they are looking for, and wracking my brains for men to introduce them to. (Disclaimer: My angst is due to their angst. If they were happy single, I would be certainly be happy for them.)
So what’s the upshot of all this? If my kid is 21 and desperately in love with a good kid who has potential, I won’t stand in their way. I’d hate to put my foot down against an early marriage and then live to see my child with regrets later on if another special person didn’t come along.
What are your feelings about marrying young? Or about marrying older? What are the pros and cons of these two different paths that you have seen in your life, or the lives of your friends?