Marrying Young

It was our 15th anniversary yesterday! Bryan and I got married when I was 19 and he was 20. There’s no regrets here. We think it’s pretty awesome, but there are some things that are different when you marry younger. So, I thought I’d make a little list.

1. Your friends are all about 5 years older than you. After college, when you find people to hang out with, the people who are in your stage of life are all several years older than you. This bothers some of them.

2. You get to be poor, really poor together. Unless you’re a wunderkind who started a successful company or who is really sweeping it up in the real estate market, you are going to be poor at first. Then, you can say things like, “Hey babe, remember when we only made $10,000 that one year?” Plus, you know that if things go bad, you can always live in a small apartment and eat Pasta Roni together with love. (From Bryan: How bad was it? We applied for FAFSA once after we were married. The Financial Aid office requested we bring in our tax forms because they couldn’t believe we were that poor. We brought them in and they requested we bring in our W-2’s because they couldn’t believe our tax forms. We knew we couldn’t make enough money for our expenses, but we did make sure our “burn rate” would keep us with enough money until we got real jobs).

3. People will ask you strange and or inappropriate questions at first. “Are you getting married because you’re pregnant?” “Don’t you feel like you’ll be missing out?” Questions about marital intimacy. Maybe that’s because they’re college kids with underformed prefrontal cortices or just bad manners, but I’m guessing it happens less to people who are over 25.

4. As you get older, you’ll meet 19-year-olds and wonder if you were just so much different from them and if not, how did you ever make it work?

5. People will unintentionally insult you by saying that getting married to your high school sweetheart or getting married young is dumb (when talking about other people).

6. You will scare parents of teenagers. “I started dating Bryan when I was 14, almost 15 and we’ve been married for 15 years now.” After you say that, they get this look in their eye, and you know they are probably secretly plotting about how to get rid of their teenager’s significant other.

7. You have to learn a lot together. 19 and 20 year olds have a lot to learn about conflict management, money management, home care and repair, insurance, organization. Going from your parents’ house to living with your spouse with no in between means you have quite a learning curve. But the benefit is that you learn together, so you develop your own system without having to figure out how to mesh your existing systems.

8. You party less and differently. You have social supports at your home. You don’t really need to go out, and when you do, you may prefer smaller gatherings.

I think the biggest problem people have with marrying young is that they don’t believe that 18, 19, 20, 21 year olds are adults. Why is that? Why have we stopped expecting people who are legally adults to act like adults? Young adults should be able to pay their bills, work hard, figure out relationships, and take on adult responsibilities.

But what about establishing your career and finishing your education and travelling? Being married doesn’t really prevent any of these things. Kids, maybe, but I wouldn’t trade my husband or kids for backpacking in Europe or becoming a CEO. Europe probably isn’t going to care if I’m sick or dying, my people will.

Really, all I’m asking is that young adults exercise good judgment and make good relationship choices. You can’t imagine being married to your boyfriend at 19 because he’s immature or lacking ambition? Then, why are you dating him? Stop it! Do better!

But, I’m getting off my soap box now. What age do you think is a good age to get married?

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