I just finished reading “Don’t Fall in Love When You’re Young,” and although I agree with pieces of it wholeheartedly, I don’t agree with its ultimate conclusion.
I met my soon-to-be husband when I was 14 and he was 16 on a ten-hour van ride to a summer service trip. We were friends when I was 15 and started dating when I was 16 and – after making it through some time in colleges in separate time zones – we are now engaged, at ages 20 and 22.
Remove the ages, and it sounds like any other delayed, not-quote-at-first-sight love story. Add them in, and it’s a free-for-all pass for people, most who don’t know my fiancé or me well, to comment on the validity/maturity/”real” marriage-readiness of our relationship.
“You’re getting married?”
“And you have how many years of college left?”
I don’t mean to whine, but I’m tired of the questions. Most of the advice in the aforementioned piece is spot on. Be your own person. Have a healthy self-identity outside any other-related markers, a list to which I would add, besides “boyfriend” and “girlfriend,” also “son,” “daughter,” “brother,” “sister,” “valedictorian,” etc. Know who you are beyond how you rank and who you please.
But also, do not think that because you are young, you can’t know who you are or what (or who) you want. I’m wary of any advice that tells me not to do something – especially when I’m “young” – because life is nonlinear and not uniform and what is perfect for my fiancé and me now is not what is perfect for you and your whoever. We are 20 and 22 and want to take on our adventures together as husband and wife. If you don’t want to, power to you, but please be willing to grant power to us, too.
Get married when you’re 21, or 31, or 41. Get married when you’re 71. More than something as non-descriptive as age, I say, get married when it feels not like a surprise, but like a natural progression. It is a big step, yes, but in a relationship, there is a step where it becomes simply the next one. There’s no timer for when that is—if there were, it’d be easy. Being “ready for marriage” or even just ready for love is something you need to feel out for yourself, something that, looking back, you may realize you were not as “ready for” as you thought.
But, of course, as the saying goes, this is not a practice life. This is the only life. So fall in love—with yourself, with others—and you will learn, by loving, better how to love.