So this year is wrapping up and it’s time for the annual existential review of my life. Yet another big year for me, obviously, on account of the fact that Daniel and I got married. Young. We got married young.
We are definitely not alone in this as I can’t even begin to count on both hand the number of save-the-dates/wedding invites I’ve gotten in the past year and this next year, 2014, is booked solid with at least 5 more weddings to attend (this number will likely grow over the course of the year, I’m sure). The trend seems to be that the majority of we newly or soon-to-be-newly weds are fresh out of college and looking to start our lives together.
Now, I’m addressing this trend of 22-or-23-year-olds getting hitched because for every wedding invite I get, there’s just as many blogs posted and articles written listing 23 Things To Do Instead of Getting Engaged Before 23, pointing out the statistics around marrying young, or praising the single life for young adults, and I want the world to know that I wholeheartedly agree with these ideas. I’m not sure I fully agree with marrying young.
I remember thinking, shortly after Daniel and I got engaged, that I was upset that the world would see us as “that” couple. The high school sweethearts who went to the same college and got married just as soon as they graduated kind of couple. While there’s nothing wrong with that couple, it’s just not the kind of couple I always wanted to be. I have to coat my response in sarcasm anytime someone uses the term “high school sweethearts” because it makes me want to gag. The truth is, I wanted to explore and discover myself and my interests and be this fully developed person before I got married, not some small-town/small-world kind of girl. I mean, statistically, Daniel and I are doomed. We got married young (“60 percent of marriages for couples between the ages of 20 and 25 end in divorce. ” National Center for Health Statistics), are from two different socio-economic backgrounds, two different ethnic backgrounds, lived together before we got married (“Research indicates that people who live together prior to getting married are more likely to have marriages that end in divorce. ” The Boston Herald), have dated since high school (“While Hollywood and popular culture romanticize the idea of marrying your high school sweetheart, these couples are actually more likely to get divorced. The reason for this is generally that people go through a variety of significant life changes from high school to young adulthood, and as a result, most couples who marry shortly after high school tend to grow apart.” Global Good Group), and his parents are divorced (“Children of divorce have a higher risk of divorce when they marry, and an even higher risk if the person they marry comes from a divorced home. One study found that when the wife alone had experienced a parental divorce, her odds of divorce increased to 59 percent. When both spouses experienced parental divorce, the odds of divorce nearly tripled to 189 percent. ” Journal of Marriage and the Family)
But here’s the thing: Daniel and I have history.
This is what made me confident in our decision to get married at 23 in a world where the average is 29 for men and 27 for women (on a hilariously only tangentially related note, these stats are from 2011 and can be found in the Wikipedia article “Age at first marriage,” which is the first thing that popped up in my Google search). We might be young, but our relationship is not. We had been dating nearly 8 years when we got married and, throughout that time, we witnessed his dad’s struggles with addiction, his parents very rough divorce, my coping with past trauma, his coping with past trauma, Bonfire (much harder on a relationship than it seems), death, stress, moving, long distance, and planning a wedding (by far one of the most difficult struggles yet.. ha!). We’ve grown apart and grown back together. We’ve fought and made up. We’ve already gone through “good and bad years” that couples speak of, and I’m fully prepared for those in the future. I know how he handles things and feel like I can fully depend on him in a time of need; I have no fear that he will run when things get hard, because things have been hard and he’s still here. Honestly, hard is basically all he’s ever known. We’re totally weird and playfully mean, but we have that in common. We’re open to trying new things together and taking an interest in each other’s hobbies (which is why I like to work out and he likes Supernatural). We challenge each other to grow and to change. Also, he is very handsome. (Also, I am very handsome).
Now, while this seems like a big mush-fest on why I think my marriage will work (hopefully? The truth is I’m still a bright-eyed-and-bushy-tailed-newlywed), this next part is me getting to the point.
I think it’s a great thing to be single at 23. Almost all of my friends here in Bville are single, and I think it’s awesome. I think this world is wide and bigger than any of us can imagine. I think that figuring out who you are is amazing and something that should absolutely be done without question, but I also think that, if you have a respectful partner, that getting married doesn’t mean you can’t do those things. I fully expect to grow and change over the years and I expect that my husband 5 years from now or 10 years from now won’t be the same man I married. I don’t want him to be. I want him to change. I want him to develop and figure out what he wants out of this life. I hope that these things he finds will mesh with what I discover about myself, and if the day comes that they don’t, then we can cross that bridge when we come to it. I also hope that he ends up looking like Leonardo DiCaprio or maybe Brad Pitt (a girl can dream, yes?).
So I guess what I have to say is that I don’t think life is about marriage. I think that getting married because it’s the next step or the right thing to do is very, very dangerous, but I don’t think marriage at any age is innately good or bad. It has to be right for you, but also the right time for you. So for those of you going into 2014 who aren’t married or soon-to-be-married, I say this: make this year about you. Don’t worry about dating or getting married or anything else. Try to let life find you in its own time, and in the meantime, do something that makes you better. For those of you who are newly married or are about to be, I say this: make this year about you and also about both of you. Evaluate your reasoning and make sure your foundation is solid. Then, go out and do something that makes you better.
And for those of you who have been married awhile: thanks for the inspiration and keep on keepin’ on.