When you get married at a young age, whether you’ve been with the person for a year or five, you’re bound to get a lot of questions.
Marriage in your late teens or early twenties will undoubtedly raise a few questions along the lines of, “Are you sure you are ready?”, “Did your parents approve?, “Do you think you’re grown/mature enough at 18 to get married?”, to name a few.
Honestly, a lot of these questions will come from a place of love and concern, and sometimes for the right reasons. That doesn’t always mean they’re justified. I find that it can be easy to become defensive when these questions are asked, because a lot of time they can carry a judgmental tone.
Today, I just want to treat every question as if it’s coming from a place of genuine curiosity and answer them from a place of sincerity.
A bit of backstory, I married my boyfriend of a little over a year and a half at 18. He was 19. We’ve now been married for almost two years, and I’ve had my fair share of questions asked about my marriage over those almost two years.
I think it’s about time I answer them.
* * *
“Are you sure you are ready?”
No. Is anyone? At 30 or 18, is anyone 100% ready, really?
In the most real sense, no, I was not sure I was ready for marriage. I saw a lot of divorces during my early teenage years, some horribly messy and some pretty amicable. Each one left me with a more hindered idea of what love and marriage are. Every time I watched a person in my life who I loved and cared for deeply, go through a divorce, saw them feel the pain and heartbreak it caused, I felt less and less sure if I ever wanted to get married.
That was until I met my husband. My whole view on love and spending my life with someone changed. He showed me what being treated right was like (which prior was something I had never experienced), and gave me plenty of reasons to look at marriage with a bit more optimism. Then we actually decided to get married and all of a sudden all of those fears crept back in and… I was scared.
Truthfully, terrified. I had no idea what to expect going into it. Would things change drastically like people said they would? Would we basically remain the same, just now bound by law? (The answer to that, I’ve found, is a bit of both. Things did change, but the way we felt about each other never did.)
So no, I wasn’t sure I was ready for as big a commitment as marriage. I was still working through my own insecurities and fears and was honestly pretty naive going into it. Luckily, I married a pretty great guy. He has been incredibly patient and understanding while I worked through it all.
If you asked me, “Are you sure now?”, the answer would be yes. I never believed it was possible to be this sure of anything, but I do now.
“Did your parents approve?”
Yes. Both sets.
My Mother is a wonderful angel of a human being. She just wants me and my siblings to be happy and safe. She knew where my heart was, and knew that I knew what I was getting myself into. At the end of the day, she was incredibly supportive and gave me rational advice at the times I needed it most.
To this day, she continues to tell me that she’s there if I ever need her, and that her home is always mine if I ever need it again. (I also have a stepdad who was super nice about it all. He’s very mellow and didn’t have a huge reaction, but was supportive nonetheless.)
My husband’s family has been incredible. I can’t fully put into words how amazing they’ve been. They have never treated me like less than part of the family, so when the stream of support didn’t waver when I married their son, I wasn’t surprised. Thankful would be a better way to put it.
Beyond parents, almost everyone in our lives were supportive. Close relatives and friends, at least. We had a few concerned questions here and there but ultimately everyone close to us has been great. I don’t know where we’d be if we didn’t have so many people rooting for us. We are lucky beyond words.
“Do you think you were mature/grown enough at 18 to get married?”
I honestly don’t know.
What I do know is that it’s incredible to have a supportive and wonderful partner who keeps you sane during all the hardest parts of growing up. To have someone who pushes you to be your best self, and helps you flourish and grow into the person you’re meant to be.
My husband and I live very separate lives, we’ve learned that that’s what works best for us. He does his thing, I do mine, and we support and love each other all the while. We grow up besides one another, helping when the other person needs it and giving them the space to grow as an individual as well.
We like to make it a point to never lose our individuality in our marriage. I have many goals that don’t involve my husband at all, and vice versa. I can’t stress enough how important it is to maintain that when you get married.
There have been a lot of instances where I felt like I was losing parts of myself in our relationship, because I was more focused on our marriage than my personal happiness and aspirations. It took a lot of maturing to be able to tell him that I needed the space to grow as an individual too. I’ve learned more than I could have imagined in two years of marriage, not only about my husband and I’s relationship but about myself as well.
Also, I find it so strange that people look at marriage like you need to know all the answers going into it. When do you consider it “grown enough” to be married? 25? 30? Never?
Everyone has grown up to do, and if you’re willing to put in the work in growing up while also spending your life with someone, it can be so worth it.
“Has it been easy?”
No. Not always, at least.
There are parts that are easy. The love is always easy, and is usually the thing that makes all the hard days possible to get through.
We fight, we have times filled with silent treatments and pettiness I’m ashamed to even admit, but through it all the love brings us back to the good.
I will admit though, we don’t fight that often. We give each other a lot of space when we need it, and that seems to really minimize the number of arguments we get into. We bicker a lot but most of the time it’s super light-hearted and we joke about it minutes later.
The hardest parts aren’t really fights or bickering. It’s the responsibilities. Neither of us had many responsibilities before getting married, and then when we moved in together and started having bills and hardships that were bigger than any we had before, that took a toll on us. It was this that led to most of our bigger fights and it took us having to sit down one night, and for hours upon hours, just be open and vulnerable about how we were feeling and our fears for us to get past that.
Admittedly, we could have been a lot more prepared.
Nobody ever said marriage was easy, and if they did: they would have been wrong, but often, the best things in life are the ones you will have to fight the hardest for. Love isn’t any exception.
“Would you do it all again?”
To put it simply into three words: in a heartbeat.
“What kind of advice would you give to couples considering getting married as young as you did?”
Take every bit of advice you get with a grain of salt. Even the advice I’m about to give.
Why? Nobody is living your life. Nobody’s relationship will be the same as yours. Everything that works for me and my marriage and life, may be disastrous for you. So while I’ll give the best advice I can, I’m only one person. My marriage is only one of millions. Keep that in mind as you read on.
- Keep love at the center of every choice you make together. I’ve found that even facing the worst of our problems, if the solution comes from pure love, it’s easier to get through.
- Let yourself be immature sometimes. Go out and hang out with friends. Go laser tagging and to trampoline parks. Do the things other people your age are doing. Live. Have a little fun sometimes. Your marriage shouldn’t feel like a prison.
- Make sure you’re both ready. Talk about it often before making any decisions. Talk about what your living situation will be like. Talk about finances. Talk about the future. 5 years, 10 years, 30 years down the line kind of future. Do you both want kids? Will you get pets? Who pays for the Netflix? (The last one is a bit of a joke, but you get the point.)
- Laugh. Seriously, until you can’t catch your breath and your cheeks hurt. When they say laughter is the best medicine, they mean it. Laugh often, and especially in the face of hard times. There have been some really hard days where the only thing that kept us going was laughing with each other.
- Learn to let things go. Both my husband and I are incredibly stubborn. We will fight tooth and nail to be right during an argument. Learning to pick your battles, and letting yourself be wrong sometimes is incredibly healing and can seriously strengthen a relationship.
- Spend time apart. I stressed this a few times already, but I want to do it again. Do things that make you happy: just you. There was a period of time where we were with each other almost every second of every day and didn’t spend any time doing things for ourselves, and that was the time we fought the most. We were at each other’s throats every second, and it was extremely unhealthy. Space gives you time to be you, and makes the time you have together that much more meaningful.
- Accept the fact that you will mess up. You will both mess up. Things will be messy and scary sometimes. Accept that. Learn to be okay with messing up from time to time. Always be ready to grow from your mistakes.
You know your relationship better than anyone. Remember that. Take the advice and concern you might get into consideration, but still, with a grain of salt. Your loved ones want what’s best for you, but they may not know what that is. Do what you feel is right.
Getting married young has it’s pros and cons. Somedays more pros, and some more cons. I’m never going to tell someone what to do with their life. Whether you get married at 18 or 40, there’s always a chance something will go wrong.
But – there’s also the chance that it will go right: and when it does, oh when it does, it may just take you on the best adventure of your life.
Previously published on “Hello, Love”, a Medium publication.
If you believe in the work we are doing here at The Good Men Project and want to join our calls on a regular basis, please join us as a Premium Member, today.
All Premium Members get to view The Good Men Project with NO ADS.
Need more info? A complete list of benefits is here.
Photo credit: Virginia Kilmartin