Sometimes when I look back on the first year of marriage that my husband and I spent in a one-bedroom apartment while working and going to school full time, I wonder: Did we know what we were getting ourselves into? We weren’t just playing house. We were waist-deep in the rigors of marriage — and just at the ages of 20 and 21.
Then I think about the pride we shared when we both graduated. I think about the exhilaration we felt when we packed up a moving truck and made a home in a new state. I think about the accomplishments that were made possible with teamwork, the adventures we shared and the family we created on our own timeline. That’s when I know young marriage was right for us.
As with any long-term relationship, it hasn’t been easy. Getting married young probably even required we make a few more sacrifices along the way. And, as statistics show, people who marry young are more likely to divorce than peers who wait until their mid-20s. So, no, walking down the aisle in your late teens or early 20s isn’t for everyone. Yet, I’m a believer that there are a few distinct advantages to making the matrimonial leap earlier than average.
There’s no rush to start a family: For the first few years of our marriage, my husband and I were able to take impulsive trips, have date nights whenever we wanted and pour undivided attention into our relationship. Then four years into it when we started trying for a baby, it was without urgency forced by a biological clock. Now that we’ve welcomed our first child and are still in our mid-20s, we have the option to have a larger family. (And the time to come to an agreement about our ideal number of kids!)
We can appreciate how far we’ve come: I can’t say this without thinking of Drake’s “Started From The Bottom,” but it’s true. Just about everything my husband and I have, we earned together. By getting married young, you’re investing in life together and can really take pride in what you were able to accomplish as a team. Plus, it’s fun now to reminisce about the days of rice and beans.
We’re writing a shared story: You know when you get together with people who go way back, they tell a story and you have no idea what they’re talking about? That doesn’t happen often when you’ve known your spouse since teenage years. For us, I have a pretty comprehensive picture of my husband, from the fun-loving guy I met at a party in college to the devoted dad who works so hard to support the family — and there’s something very special about knowing someone so completely.
It was much simpler to blend lives: It was a lot easier to fit two people into a one-bedroom apartment when we didn’t arrive with separate couches, beds and microwaves. The same is true for meshing lifestyles. Sure, we had our own habits and routines, but it wasn’t like we were accustomed to living on our own and were suddenly stepping on each other’s feet.
We’re apparently more satisfied with life: Yes, there are proven benefits to tying the knot when you’re barely out of your teens! According to the National Marriage Project’s 2013 report, unmarried people in their 20s report lower levels of life satisfaction than us married folk. When you have a spouse, you are also less prone to depression and drinking in excess.
We really picked each other: Before I met my husband, I was in no rush to get married. I was just a typical 19-year-old, who believed she had many years and potential matches ahead of her. But he changed everything simply by being the person I wanted to marry. As with having children, there was absolutely no pressure to get married when we did. It just felt right because we were right for each other.
When it comes down to it, I think that’s really the key: If you marry a person who is going to encourage you, share in your happiness and help you feel like your best self — and vice versa — then age at the time of “I do” is nothing but a number.
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