Q: So I am in a situation and I am not sure what to do. I am eighteen and my boyfriend is nineteen. We have been dating for a little over a year and a half. We have known each other for close to seven years. Well, we are madly in love!! :D I feel like mentally we are prepared for marriage, but financially we’re not. We both have jobs, but don’t bring a whole lot in. He has a car and I’m working on getting one. He will be graduating college with his second degree and I will be graduating high school, both in May. So here’s where my dilemma comes in… I want to get married so bad!! I think partially it’s because I see people who I go to school with getting engaged after dating for only a year or so, and I think its partially because I really adore him and I just want to be with him. Well, I know as of now, we’re not financially ready to get married. But is it wrong to get engaged now and just slowly plan parts of the wedding until we can afford to live by ourselves? I feel like our relationship is at a standstill and I just want to take it to the next step. I mentioned it to him one time and we talked about it for ten or so minutes and it hasn’t been brought up again. So I guess my question is: is it wrong to get engaged now, and plan the wedding for when we’re more stable? And: how do I bring this up to him? And: if he still says not yet, how do I get myself to be patient being in the pre-engagement stage?
Is Engagement Wrong?
Q: I got engaged over a month ago, and plan for a June wedding. I don’t know how to decide to pick four bridesmaids when I have more than four candidates. But of those none of my friends offered to help me plan or even said they are happy for me. In fact they straight out told me I had no idea what I’m doing and asked me to reconsider. My sister (maid of honor) hasn’t offered any advice at all, should I ask? And my mother doesn’t think I should even be getting married when I still have “four years of college” to get through (I’m currently seventeen years old). I am not sure how I’m going to tell her that Andy and I are tying the knot after graduation. My fiancé doesn’t know how to help, at least he tries though. So kudos to him. It’s all very frustrating. I don’t know where to start, who to talk to, or anything really. Please help. I don’t know what to do.
Q: I’m here to ask advice as a pre-engaged college student.
My boyfriend and I have been dating for over three years now (I’m now eighteen, and he’s twenty-one), and we’ve been toying with the idea of getting engaged for quite some time.
Before you think anything about our ages (as I know the majority of our friends and families do), I’ll give you some background.
He and I are long past puppy love. This isn’t some whimsical “Let’s get married for the heck of it” kind of idea. This is serious. We’re both finishing our associates degrees this coming spring (I started college way early, and I love it), and want to get engaged before I move away to go to a university for my last two years of college. Neither of us live away from home, because we simply can’t afford it individually, but we share the weight of each other’s financial troubles because we know we want to get married. We spend A LOT of time together, since we attend the same school and live very close. His parents married young, so it’s mostly my parents that I’m worried about. The last thing I want is for them to be unhappy if I came home with a ring. It’s very troubling to think of my parents not being happy for me, or being disappointed. BUT, I’m prepared to walk away from that and get married anyway. It’s been three years, and I’m tired of acting like marriage isn’t on our minds. Nor am I willing to wait another two years just for the sake of pleasing other people.
I honestly just don’t know how to balance this with my age, and the reaction of my family (which I’m dreading, and I feel like I shouldn’t have to).
Any advice is welcome, I really need some.
A: Dear IEW, Anonymous, and N,
Guys, I want you to know up front that I’m not questioning how much you love your partners. I’m not questioning your preparedness for marriage. And I’m certainly not questioning your maturity. But I am going to suggest that maybe you slow down.
Yes, yes, yes. APW is the land of, “Get married if you’re ready!” and “Don’t wait for those wily ducks!” That’s because there are some things that just may never be resolved (like financial security or your parents’ opinion of your sexuality, religion, etc.). Wait for that stuff, and you could be waiting a lifetime. But there are some things that have a clear and definitive deadline. For example, “When you finish school,” or, “In x number of years.”
My point isn’t that I necessarily agree with your loved ones, or that I think you guys are too young to get married (I was a pretty young bride myself). This isn’t about those years actually meaning something. Maybe they do; maybe they don’t. It’s about how your loved ones do mean something. If there’s a way to make them feel comfortable and come to terms with your choices, then by all means: DO IT. Marriage is incredibly important, but so is maintaining your other relationships whenever at all possible. That’s not always an option, and sometimes you’ll need to live with disapproval, tension, and strained relationships. But if you don’t need to, don’t. Put another way, which would really be more difficult? Toughing out another few years of waiting to get married, or toughing out an indeterminate number of years of family tension and strife?
It would also probably help your whole situation if you gave your parents a buffer zone to get used to the idea. Frankly, an unexpected “We’re engaged and we’re getting married in June!” would put anyone on edge. Instead of just springing that on them, start talking about how serious your relationship is becoming. Make it clear that you’re talking about engagement and marriage. Ask your parents what they think seems a fair timeline and, if you disagree, start bracing them for that fact.
Aside from all of that, if everyone around you is saying to wait, you need to face the possibility they’re seeing something you’re not. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our happy romance that we lose all objectivity. Maybe they’re wrong, but it’s worth listening to their concerns and actually considering them. Your loved ones are smart and they love you. Two pretty solid reasons to hear what they have to say.
Like I said. I’m not questioning your love or your maturity or that you can handle all that marriage entails. I swear I’m not doubting any of it. But I am saying that even if you’re legitimately ready to commit to marriage and your loved ones aren’t—what’s the rush?
Team Practical, how do you determine when to listen to your family’s concerns and when to ignore them? Is there such a thing as “too young to get married”?
Photo by Gabriel Harber.
If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Liz at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com. If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted. Though it really makes our day when you come up with a clever sign-off!