“So, why did you get married so young?”
Favorite question ever. My husband and I got married three weeks before I turned 21. Yes, I was 20 when I got married. In our receiving line at the wedding we still had people telling us that they hoped we would last because we were so young. “Thanks, and thank you for coming.”
I even had a student of mine ask me if I got married because I got pregnant. “No, no I didn’t get pregnant. Go back to your homework, please.”
Let me just say that I understand that most 20-year-olds in our American culture are not ready to get married. In fact, I don’t know if anyone is really ever totally “ready,” but that’s getting slightly off topic. My husband and I met when we were 14. If you’d like to read more about that, check out this post, “How I Became Mrs. B.” We had dated through 3 years of college and been in “like” since junior year of high school. I’d like to share a few reasons why getting married seemed like a good idea for us in comparison to most 20-year-old couples.
- We had known each other as friends first.
We genuinely had grown in a bond as friends in high school and even while we were dating in college. We spent a lot of time developing our friendships together with other people. Although we were madly in love, we were more than just infatuated. We knew how to speak to each other in rebuke, encouragement, and tough love.
- We had done a lot of “growing up” together.
Lasting through 6 years together of ups and downs plus transitions like high school graduation and college in another state was tough, but we stuck together. We realized that through transitions, we could and would stay committed. We realized that you don’t marry someone expecting them not to change. We didn’t want to get down the road twenty years and fall into the “you aren’t the same person I married” mentality. So, we purposed that we would grow and change together, purposefully supporting the other person even if they changed some in who they were and how they wanted to spend their life.
Even in our one year of marriage, Ryan has graduated and completely changed vocations from his “major,” Special Education, to the Information Technology field. We’ve moved. I’ve made decisions to pursue a little bit different path with my grad degree than I was pursuing in my undergraduate studies. People change. They change looks, change jobs, change their minds about things large and small. One morning, I woke up and decided that I really don’t like scrambled eggs. That’s okay. We’re doing our best to lovingly support and encourage one another to change in any way that enable us to glorify God and serve Him better.
- We had always thought marriage would be more expensive than being single, and it wasn’t.
Now let me tell you, you should not get married because of finances, and I get that. However, we were waiting assuming that we couldn’t afford to be married and be in college. Let me give you some rough numbers that totally changed our mind on this issue.
We were paying about $6,000 for room and board, per person. That’s $12,000 combined a year to live on campus. Granted, that included meals and utilities, but still $12,000.
We found out that one bedroom apartments owned by our university could be rented by staff for under $500 permonth. We also realized that we could budget for groceries and eat healthier and cheaper than we could in a large dining facility that had to charge for the buffet style they offered and had to accommodate typical college tastes (read – pizza and burgers).
Let me make this simple. $12,000 for nine months in the dorms or rent at $500 per month plus $200 per month in groceries which totaled to $6,300 for nine months. Holy cow. In addition, when we decided to get married we filed our taxes as married full-time students with a low income (all accurate). This allowed us to receive a substantial tax break that also contributed to our debt.
All that to say, we crunched numbers and realized we’d assumed incorrectly with regards to finances.
- We had loving and godly counsel encouraging us throughout the entire process.
Although not every one of our friends and family was supportive of us marrying early initially, they all were committed to helping us build a right foundation as we approached marriage. We had a support system of godly friends, family, and church leadership pointing us in the right directions and passing on as much wisdom and experienced advice as they could. We’re so thankful that in any moment we can call dozens of trusted friends and family members that will help us through troubles or trials.
- We weren’t getting married because we were “in love.”
I don’t mean to step on toes here, but marriage is more than feeling “in love” all the time. It scares me when couples make this their basis for why they should get married. We chose to get married because we firmly believed that we could serve the Lord better together than we could apart. We were firm in our commitment to each other no matter what. We were confident that circumstances in our lives that brought and kept us together were ordained by God. We were supported in our decisions by our family, especiallyparents, whom we loved and trusted to tell us if they didn’t believe we were right choices for each other. There are a lot of reasons that people get married, but we were confident that our marriage, though full of wonderful “feelings,” shouldn’t be based on feelings, but should be based on beliefs.
- We had a plan concerning kids.
At this moment your brain might be thinking, “where’s she going with this”? If pictures of the families with dozens of children are running through your mind, hold on. All I’m saying here is that close friends and family asked us, “what If you get pregnant before you finish school?” Although not the most comfortable question, we realized it was a valid one.
I, being the stubborn sarcasm queen that I am, said, “my kid will get a great education young.” In all reality though, we had prayed about this and decided that while we didn’t plan to have children any time soon, a “worst case scenario” of getting pregnant would mean that God had allowed it,which wouldn’t really be bad at all. I wouldn’t give up my education, but would do everything in my power to finish, even pregnant or with a child.
Well, I didn’t get pregnant in undergrad. No babies. Honestly though, what God ordains is always right. He is letting us wait and focus on career and school, and we’re happy with that. But, if He hadn’t, we would have been happy with whatever He’d allowed. I know that might sound simplistic, but it is the truth.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. – Jeremiah 29:11
I don’t want to mess with the plans God has for me because every plan He has is for my good to give me a future and a hope. You can’t ask for anything better.
I’ve talked to a lot of young ladies in the past year that have asked me why we got married early, if we regret it, if I’d do it again. I try to answer their questions honestly with a good dose of “we weren’t your average couple in average circumstances” and ‘’parental involvement is very important’’. I don’t encourage every young person to do what we did, but I’m so glad that we did it. I’m so glad that God is working things for good in our lives. We’ve had so many opportunities this year that wouldn’t have been open to us before marriage, and we’re thankful for that. I understand that marriage is not a recipe. Just because you’re together a long time doesn’t mean that things will automatically work out well in marriage. Some people take things fast and last forever. I don’t think I would advise a couple who met senior year of high school to get married as college freshmen. Everyone is different, but a lot needs to be evaluated when considering making the choice to commit to someone forever.
I’d like to close reminding you that what God has for one person may be odd, but that doesn’t mean we should condemn then as being out of God’s will. I’m sure Ruth was told that living with her mother-in-law was sort of weird and “clingy”. Joseph might have been told that God was disappointed in him for being a convict. Peter may have been told that deserting the family business would be dishonoring his heritage. God doesn’t choose to work the same way in everyone’s life, and I’m so thankful that He makes us all different. Please make sure before you judge a young married couple that you take time to observe their life and perhaps discover their motives for the choices that they’ve made. You may be totally missing the fact that God is glorified in their “abnormal” lives.
Thank you all for listening to my heart on this. I’m certainly not perfect, and I certainly don’t have all the answers. I’m just a young newlywed enjoying learning more about my Savior each day.