I have just recently reached a point in my life when my friends are starting to get married. As I am still fairly young, they are also still young; most of them getting engaged around nineteen and twenty and then marrying soon after, some right out of high school. I live in a subculture that, because of religious reasons, often encourages couples to marry in their sooner rather than later. However, these past two years have been such a whirlwind of change for me, it becomes clear how very different than the person I was my junior year of high school I am now. I expect this will continue to feel this way as I continue through college and my early twenties. But it’s overwhelming all the more to imagine what getting married during a time of such growth would be like. Some of these marriages concern me to the maximum. And others I fully support. But no matter what I think, these couples are very much in love and ready to charge straight ahead down the rocky road that I’ve heard marriage to be. And power to them. I’m just relieved I’m only watching.
I think I have such strong feelings emotions about this topic because it could’ve been me getting married. My senior year of high school began with the start of my first serious dating relationship. My boyfriend and I liked each other enough to eventually use the “l” word and have a few disgusting pet names for each other. But when he began talk of marriage and our future together, I became increasingly uncomfortable. Coming from a family where everyone married young and got right down to making babies, I could understand why he felt the need to do the same. His parents were married by nineteen and twenty-three, his sister and brother-in-law at twenty-one and twenty-two, and his best friend and older brother and wife were just eighteen and nineteen. So it made sense that he felt the pressure. But it didn’t mean I was fine with conforming to it.
Growing up hearing my mom’s stories of moving to Minneapolis on her own as a nineteen-year-old always fed my longing for independence and adventure after my years in school had finished. I had (and still have) no intention of letting my thoughts of becoming a someday-wife and mother run over top my dreams of becoming a adventuresome fashion journalist living in the big city. And with parents who met and got married in their late twenties, the idea of settling down a year after high school graduation was completely terrifying.
However, the biggest problem I saw with marrying my high school sweetheart wasn’t my dreams standing in the way. It wasn’t that our beliefs and values didn’t line up or even the fact that his family didn’t approve of me, though these certainly did factor in. The problem that really struck me was the fact that I was (still am) growing into myself. Though adults see me as grown up for my age, I wouldn’t call myself especially mature- particularly spiritually, which is the most important kind of maturity. And I could clearly see that my boyfriend was in the same place I was, if not, a bit farther behind.
To make a long and tough story short, I am not married nor do I plan on being so in the next few years. After realizing that our futures and wants didn’t match up, my boyfriend and I broke up two weeks before I started college. While this was a rough transition period, I knew it was for the best. There was so much more time that I wanted to spend seeing the world as an unmarried and unattached young woman. I fully believe in being open to what God has planned for my life, but in no way am I striving after the idea of being a wife just yet. And while I know some of my college friends are feeling such a deep longing for the companionship and security that a marriage would bring, I can hardly wait to see what is in store for me in my remaining single years, however long they may be.
Disclaimer: I don’t mean to condemn those who choose to get married young. I fully believe that everyone feels differently about times in their life that decisions should be made and things should happen. Some feel it’s right for them to get married right out of high school and think they are ready to take on the challenge and exciting new step in life. Others choose to wait longer to get married. Or choose not to. Or don’t choose not to but never do. No one is the same and hardly anything can be said about timing for marriage that is universal. What I’m taking a stand against is the placement of the pressure of marriage on people who might not be ready to be married or may not want to anytime soon or even at all. Like I said, hardly any assumptions about this topic can be made as each person you come across will have different ideas about it. This is solely about what I believe to be best and true for me.