I know the look. The look you probably made inadvertently to yourself when you first read the headline to this article.
The You’re-So-Young-Are-You-Mormon-Then-Why-Are-You-Married look.
As a 24-year-old married man (who looks younger), I get that look all the time. It is almost inconceivable to people that someone as young and moderately not bad looking as myself could have tied the knot so early. But I did.
They try to rationalize it by asking about my religion, political views, birth defects, history of mental illness, etc. And, because I am an agnostic and decently healthy man with socio-anarchic tendencies, the results just don’t add up for them because there are no real outside pressures that could have forced me to make such a mistake.
They pepper me with the best years of your life comments and lecture me on how I’m too young to settle down. When I attempt to rebut their argument, they just look at me with that Oh-Good-For-You half smile, pat my head and walk away.
They write me off as an aberration and pity my fate.
I think a lot of that has to do with erroneous and preconceived notions about marriage, at least marriage as I know it. I cannot comment on marriages of convenience, necessity, or religious belief. I can only comment on a marriage like mine, where two people decided to commit to one another because, quite simply, life together felt better than life apart.
That being said, I would like to dispel some of the myths about marriage I have confronted over time.
Life Ends When Marriage Begins
This one is a bit facetious. Obviously, no one I would ever associate with actually believes that life literally ends at marriage like some sort of Twilight wet dream. However, many friends and acquaintances of mine have expressed the opinion that my social life, outside pursuits, etc. would fall by the wayside the moment I said ‘I do.’
But that was not really the case. Of course, aspects of my life did change in that I make a concerted effort to always clear time in my day to spend alone with my wife. But that is a decision I made, not one forced on me by her or the institution. I enjoy her company immensely and have chosen to cut things out of my life that now seem frivolous by comparison.
However, that does mean all my hobbies have disappeared in some ill-fated ascetic attempt to demonstrate my love for this woman. Nothing could be further from the truth. I still play video games, take French classes, play in a terrible softball league and watch football on Sundays. We participate in some of these activates together to various degrees and others I take part in all by myself.
My wife has never asked me to give up anything I care about or enjoy for her, and vice versa. Just the other night, while hosting a sleep over for my niece, my wife gave me the go-ahead to go out and get a drink with a close friend who had just moved back to town. She was tired and my niece had already fallen asleep, so she sent me out on my own. And we were both fine with that scenario. While we enjoy going out together, we still maintain our own identities and can function as individuals.
The funny thing about marrying someone you love is, when the time comes, the bullshit cluttering your life just kind of falls away to make room for that person. You keep the aspects of your old self that are important to you while still changing in some ways that make you better together.
You Immediately Become an Old Person
Once again, this one has varying levels of truth in it. It is true that getting married at a young age, in some ways, forces you to a maturity level beyond that of your peers, at least if you’re doing it right. It is kind of impossible for that not to happen. Single you was in college, partying, bar hopping, etc. and new you has dedicated your life to someone. When the consequences of your actions begin affecting another person as much as yourself, you are forced to grow up a little bit.
However, I think that this claim is a self-fulfilling prophecy. People that are generally more mature at a young age are probably more apt to take a step like marriage before others in their age group. I have always been known as the mature one among my friends and that’s not a bad thing. My best friend’s mother thanked me, upon graduating high school, for keeping her son alive for the past 13 years.
Sure, I was the first one of my friends to stop attending midnight movie premiers and I am not always up for an all night party. But those trends began appearing in my life long before I got hitched. In fact, I think I party more with my friends now than I did before I was married. You see, being married to a gracious woman who does not drink often is kind of like having your own personal designated driver. But better. Because you have lots of sex with them.
Which leads me to my next point.
You Stop Having Sex
I have no idea where this one came from but when a man loves a woman…they fuck. A lot. I am having more sex than any of my unmarried friends.
I will be the first to admit that marriage is not for everyone. But, as corny as it sounds, when you find the right person, you just know. I don’t believe in predestination or true love. There could be another 300 women in the world who would make me happy, but I found her. And there is comfort in that chaos.
There are still moments when I am surprised at how good she can make me feel. There is no way in hell I was going to jeopardize that for a few more pointless years of ‘freedom.’