July 17, 2012

In Defense Of Marrying Young

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What is the issue?

For every person who gets married at 23, there are three people who complain about people who get married at 23. 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.

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. 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. 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. 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. TC mark

image – Shutterstock

Julie Shockley

Julie lives in Phoenix and works in behavioral health. She enjoys writing on topics ranging from brooding commentary …

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