Jackie & Ben

Secrets from a young marriage

* Jackie, Assistant GM of UT Dallas Residence Hall and Nightly Back Scratcher & Ben, Engineering Student, Hot Air Force Guy, and Perpetual Dishwasher *

I was young when I got married. Thirteen months later, I still am.

My husband and I found each other the first weekend of college our freshman year. We became friends, running in the same social group all year and getting into trouble together, but it wasn’t until the summer after that something changed for us. On a short road trip to see a friend for her birthday, there was a switch that flipped in the middle of rest stop shenanigans and Disney sing-alongs. We fell in love in a summer of boxed mac and cheese, drinking too much rum and Coke with our friends, and taking long walks around our deserted college campus in the wee hours of the morning.

When we started dating, we agreed it’d be a casual thing. I was his first girlfriend, and neither of us wanted to be tied down when we were eighteen years old. It’s always funny though, how true love finds people. We became inseparable that summer. Eventually, school started and we had to figure out how to be a couple among friends and schoolwork and jobs. We almost lost each other that winter, due to wondering minds and wandering hearts, but thankfully, we figured our shit out and fell back into each other. After that, there was no question. We had two more years of sneaking kisses in the library, a summer spent apart for Air Force basic training, and another summer apart while he was deployed to Kyrgyzstan and I lived on the French Riviera. We had the adventures that we’d always wanted to have that summer, but boy, those were the worst six months of my life.

Then, two winters ago, while I was in New York City with my graduating class, Ben drove down and surprised me on a bridge in Central Park. He asked me to spend my life with him and as I danced around in happy circles on that bridge, everything within me screamed yes.

If the criticism of being in a serious relationship at twenty-one wasn’t already bad, it quickly became impossible. Dozens of “adults” insinuated that we were throwing our lives away (most of them in unhappy marriages themselves). Well-meaning aunts told me I should go see the world and kiss lots of boys before I settled down (never mind that summer in France and the twelve boyfriends I had before Ben). Strangers gave me the weirdest looks when I explained that yes, the sparkly ring on my left hand was an engagement ring, and no, I was not pregnant, thankyouverymuch.

We did it anyways. We’re not the type of people to take anyone’s shit, so with the help of those wonderful people who really did support us, we planned one hell of a party. We vowed our lives to each other on a ninety-seven degree day in July, with fresh flowers everywhere, no shoes on my feet, and all of our favorite people in one place. It was pure magic. It was the best day of my life.

And now, I’m realizing that the part of our relationship that everyone criticized is one of my favorite parts of our story. We fell in love when we were eighteen, at that time of life when everyone is just trying to figure out how to have fun and still pass classes if we’re being honest. We didn’t know what we wanted from a partner, let alone a spouse. We barely knew what we wanted from ourselves. But we figured it out together. In our arguments in the dining hall and the cold walks to each other’s dorms and the late nights just staying up, sharing our dreams, we figured it out. We’ve become each other’s closest friends, and in that, our best partners. These years we’re in, this space from eighteen to twenty-two (and the next few years we’re going to face), these are our most formative years. All of that high school counselor bullshit about figuring out who you are and who you’re supposed to be, that’s real. And that’s us. But we’re doing it together.

We’re growing as separate people, surely. I’m realizing that maybe I am a tiny bit introverted after all, and after four years of a marketing degree, Ben is figuring out that he really just wants to be an engineer. I’m in my first professional job, trying to figure out how to be an employee and a boss at the same time, all the while yearning to quit the whole thing and open my own business, and Ben is loving his so-nerdy-it’s-cute engineer classes at the local community college. But we’re growing into each other too. We’ve been the constant in each other’s lives for the past four years. The only constant. That semester that I got in a fight with my dad the first week and we didn’t speak until Easter, Ben helped me figure out how I wanted to handle the situation. When Ben’s Air Force base asked him if he would deploy to some unknown Middle Eastern county for six months, we made that awful pros and cons list together. And just three months ago, I started a new job in Dallas, fifteen hundred miles away from our hometown of Rochester, New York. Fifteen hundred miles away from our families. Fifteen hundred miles away from everything we’ve ever known. We’d been hoping for a move like this, and it happened and that road trip down here was more fun and more terrifying than anything I’d ever done.

So now we’re here. We’re in this new city by ourselves, building this new life together, choosing each other every day and falling more in love with each other every damn day too. It can be hard sometimes, with the long days and the quick stubbornness we both have, but really, it’s good. At eighteen, we talked about someday getting married and someday moving to Texas and at twenty-two, that someday is now. The best part is that we have a million somedays ahead of us. Someday we’ll live in Austin and someday we’ll build a big Southern house and someday I’ll own an ice cream shop. Someday far away, we’ll have some babies and we’ll raise those babies to be good, kind people. Someday, Lord willing, we’ll be sitting in that big Southern house together with our giant family buzzing about around us, and we’ll think back to when we were twenty-two in our second year of marriage, learning how to do life together.

We’ll think about the warm August nights we sat out on our makeshift patio, talking about careers and music and being in love, and wondered how it could get any better than this. We’ll think about how we went through a lot of really great stuff together and a lot of tough shit too, but we made it work. We always figured it out together and we always will and as we keep growing up, we’ll keep growing in. This process of growing up together and growing into each other is not something to be taken lightly, but it’s me and it’s him and I don’t want it to ever end.

The Info—Photographer: Brette-Ashley Photography / Location: North Chili, New York / Venue: Black Creek Park / Jackie’s Dress: Bella You / Ben’s Suit: Men’s Wearhouse / Groomsmen Ties: Won from Bows ’N Ties / Food: Taste of Texas / Dessert: Abbott’s Frozen Custard / Everything Else: Made by Jackie, Ben, Jackie’s sweet little sister and her kick-ass mom

Featured Sponsored Content

  • Manya

    This is so sweet. I always hoped that I would meet my love young and grow up and into each other. What a blessing to get more time with each other, since I believe that time is the only truly scarce commodity we have. Best of luck to you!

    • Rachel

      I love that – “what a way to get more time with each other” – how true!

  • Love!

  • Charis

    “We always figured it out together and we always will and as we keep growing up, we’ll keep growing in. This process of growing up together and growing into each other is not something to be taken lightly, but it’s me and it’s him and I don’t want it to ever end.”

    I love this sooo much and can relate to this so much!

    Me and my boyfriend met aged 13, started dating aged 16 and even though we went to separate universities we stayed together. Now nine years later we’re planning our July 2014 wedding!

    I’d be lying if I said we’d never had some ups and downs, but everything you have written here is so true, if it’s right then you figure stuff out together.

    Sometimes I get worried that I haven’t experienced enough to know that this is what I truly want for the rest of my life, but it’s just such a great relationship that I can’t help but feel that it would be impossible to find something better than what we have already. Why would I give that up to find this mythical ‘perfect’ relationship?

    Thank you for writing this!

    • KB

      “Sometimes I get worried that I haven’t experienced enough to know that this is what I truly want for the rest of my life, but it’s just such a great relationship that I can’t help but feel that it would be impossible to find something better than what we have already.”

      I think most everything in life is a trade-off – sure, you could hold off having a serious relationship or getting married until much later and, yeah, you might have experiences you wouldn’t otherwise have had. But, while I feel like more years have given me perspective and maturity, it’s also made me more calloused not as inclined to believe in the romance of “fate” or “magic” when it comes to relationships. I don’t think people in general should make a decision this big based on what-ifs and possibilities when you already feel happy with what you have in the now.

    • My husband is the second man I’ve ever loved. Not a ton of experience, but enough to say that really… zero heartbreaks is plenty of heartbreaks. It’s silly to go date all the wrong men just for the “experience.” Most of those experiences involve a lot of crying into your ice cream…

      • Charis

        I know this is a really stupid analogy, but I try to think of it like icecream….

        You might have only ever had vanilla, and you like it just fine, but you might like chocolate or strawberry better. Vanilla might pale into insignificance once you’ve tried them.

        But then again, you might dislike chocolate and be allergic to strawberry lol :)

        It’s all a big gamble really, no matter how old you are, no matter how many relationships you’ve had. I think you just have to want to make it work.

  • this made me cry. thank you for sharing this story. I’m not “officially” engaged but my boyfriend and I are pretty much finding ourselves in the same boat. Wanting to make that commitment but facing tons of pressure from everyone that we are too young and throwing our lives away, that I should be focusing on building a mega career and “living my life” first. It’s hard to make people see that “living your life” does not equal to the same activities for everyone. Kudos to you guys for sticking to your decision anyways, found this very inspirational.

  • Kristen

    The thing “adults” don’t tell you is that there are plenty of folks out there at 34 or 42 who STILL aren’t mature enough for marriage. I was barely mature enough at 35 to get married and now as I’m nearing my one year anniversary and age 37 on its heels, its still a huge struggle to learn to grow up and in to each other.

    Bravo for figuring it out early and for getting to start your life when you want, instead of waiting for when “they” say you’re ready. Everything in this piece says you’re ready.

  • Lindsay Rae

    This. Is. Incredible. So beautifully written… absolutely tearing up at my desk at work!

    My fiance and I are high school sweethearts, and are one year away from our October 2014 wedding. It hasn’t always been easy, as growing up and growing up together was something we had to work for, together and while we were apart at different colleges, but it’s been worth it.

    Congratulations Jackie & Ben!


    This is, hands down, the cutest thing I’ve read for an age.

    Love it :)

  • My parents are high school sweethearts, so I always believed my life would follow the same trajectory: meet and marry young; settle down; start a family around age 25. It didn’t, of course — the best-laid plans, right? — but no matter: we do things on our own schedules, in our own time, when they’re right for us. Your wedding looks absolutely lovely, and your genuine love through your words speaks volumes. Wishing you much luck and happiness on your journey!

    • mimi

      Same here! However, life had other plans. Met my now-husband when I was about to turn 30, and we just got married this summer, right before my 33rd birthday.

      This post is adorable. Congrats to you, Jackie & Ben!

      • Lindsey d.

        Mimi, that’s nearly my exact timeline. I met my fiance three weeks before my 30th birthday. Our first date was one week after I hit the big 3-0. We’ll be married one month after my 33rd birthday. Can’t wait!

        • MDBethann

          That’s us exactly too. Met around the time I turned 30, got married 2 months after I turned 33.

    • Laura

      Isn’t it funny how we use our parents’ and family members’ life trajectories as models for our own? I think the subtle pressures it creates can sometimes be very harmful.

      My parents met at 18, got married at 22, and just celebrated their 33rd anniversary. My brother met his now-wife when they were both 18, they got married at 23, and they’ve now been married five years. And I met my husband when I was 18 and he was 19; when we got engaged, I was 23.

      When my younger sister met a guy at age 18, I think she felt pressure to make him “the one.” After all, her parents and two older siblings had followed the same life trajectory — why wouldn’t she? It took her over three years of a not-so-great relationship to figure out that she could break free of that mold. I’ve had similar conversations with my best friend, whose parents married young and don’t understand why, at the ripe old age of 26, she doesn’t have a serious relationship yet.

      There are unique pressures and difficulties with finding “your person” at any age. Younger couples need to negotiate that coming-of-age, figuring-out-who-you-are-as-an-independent-person-while-being-part-of-a-couple stuff. Many people who meet when they’re older need to figure out how to shave off the rough edges of an independent personality to accommodate the give-and-take of coupledom.

      There’s no one way to do things, and kudos to you for figuring out what makes the most sense for your life.

      • Kate

        I agree – my parents got married when my mom was 23 and then got pregnant and had me at 24. Even though their marriage was/is (they’re separated) a horrible thing to model my relationship after, for some reason I had it in my head for years that I needed to get married in my early twenties and have my first child before 25. Which really threw my then-boyfriend (now-fiance) for a loop when I started talking about it when I was 22. It took longer than I’d like to admit before I realized that that timeline was ridiculous for us and just because my boyfriend wasn’t on board with it did NOT mean the relationship wasn’t going to last. Now, at 25, I am very happy to have just gotten engaged and to be starting the process of planning our wedding. We personally needed that “extra” time to work out who we are and what we want from this relationship.

        That said, I’m sure unconsciously modeling your relationship after family members’ lives can also work out well in many situations!

      • Beth

        Agreed! My parents met in college and were married by the time my mom was 21 and my dad was 25. They’ve now been married for almost 42 years. My older brother met his wife their first week in college, got married right after they graduated, and have now been married 10 years.

        Because of this, I always thought I would meet my future husband in college. When my long-term college relationship ended and I found myself single at 27, I felt like I had missed the boat somewhere along the way. Fast forward and I just got married at 31. If I imagine meeting my husband when I was 18, I know it never would have worked for us (mostly because I was too selfish and full of angst) so I’m happy that I met him when I did. It just goes to show you that everyone is ready at different times.

        I know so many people in my parents’ and grandparents’ generation who married young and were happy together for a lifetime, so it’s weird that there is such a backlash against people marrying young now.

        • Aubry

          Yes! How did the age expectations change so quickly? At my grandparents age, 18 was normal. Even my mom got married the first time at 18, and many of her siblings did too. Now we are getting flack at 25? And try having kids before 30! I guess the longer life expectancy, prevalence of birth control, reduction of abstinence focused religious pressures in many areas, and lack of wars could have something to do with it. There just isn’t the urgency that there used to be.

      • Aubry

        I feel like this is affecting by best friend quite a bit. She is 26, and has been in relationships quite a bit over the years. Her parents have a great relationship (mostly, obviously) and love each other a lot. They got married very young, around 22 I think, and have been together ever since. I know my friend is really feeling the pressure to meet “the one” already and pop out some babies. She has actually had people say (relatives, friends, strangers…) that she better hurry up as she is practically in spinsterhood already. At 26!

        Also, she really wants to have kids some day and her mom had a very hard time with multiple miscarriages. She has damaged ovaries and is worried that the longer she waits the more trouble she will have conceiving.

        All this has the poor girl over thinking every relationship, trying to meet guys in some less-than-awesome ways, and staying in terrible relationships for years trying to make it work. I try to just stand n solidarity with her and try to let her know that it is OK to forge your own path.

  • Senorita

    “as we keep growing up, we’ll keep growing in”

    My now husband and I almost got married right at the same age as you, but because of outside circumstances, ended up waiting a few more years. While I think it has allowed us to go into our marriage stronger and more grounded than I knew was possible 3 years ago, I also believe that when you know, you know. And you girlfriend, are very much in the know.

    • Same thing here! Love the whole “growing in” thing! That’s exactly how I feel about my relationship.

      I just married one of the first people I met at college. We hooked up right at the beginning of the year, but then dated other people before getting back together at the beginning of sophomore year, and we just got married this summer, a month before our 6 year anniversary. My parents married in their 30’s, and his biological parents are divorced, so we definitely had that feeling that we should wait longer to make sure, but finally it was like, f*** it! We know we’re going to do this, let’s just do it! I know 25 isn’t super young, but it definitely feels young to me, and we are the first of any of our friends to get married, but absolutely to what Senorita said, “when you know, you know.” It sounds silly, but at one point it just clicked for both of us that it was time to go for it. Some people just have that moment sooner rather than later. No right way to do it :)

  • Mo

    This is a truly fantastic story…thank you for sharing, Jackie! I just got married at the age of 24, which to my younger self still seems to young, but I love the way you describe it: growing into each other while also figuring out who you are as individuals. I look forward to all of our somedays, too.

  • I love this post SO much. Also that you had Abbott’s at your wedding. One of my best friends had cake and Abbott’s at her wedding in Rochester and it was the best frozen deliciousness ever.

    I think when you (royal you) are young, it’s assumed that everyone knows what is best for you. I was on the receiving end of many many (many) talks from well-meaning adults when I was 20 and found the man who would be come my husband seven years later. Some of those talks came when we moved in together a year after we started dating. We have done a lot of growing together and growing on our own and each time we’ve hit a rough patch of potholes and gravel and cinder-dusted icy roads we’ve found our way through it.

    You had a gorgeous wedding and I wish you and your husband all the great and happy things.

    • A Single Sarah for certain values of single

      Yes for frozen custard! I haven’t had Abbott’s, but custard is the BEST!

    • Go Abbotts! Such a good choice for that super hot day. Plus, who doesn’t love frozen custard?

      Thank you for your kind words :)

  • SJ

    I love this. I met my almost-husband a month after the beginning of our freshman year in college…and that was it. By the third date I knew I’d marry him. And here we are, just having celebrated our sixth anniversary together and planning our wedding for May. Congratulations and best wishes! :)

  • MK

    Welcome to Dallas! I’m sorry it’s been so hot, but finally we’re getting some fall. Let me know if you need date ideas for the Metroplex!

    (Yay I’m so excited that there’s another APWer in the area!)

    • ah yes, Dallas! I tried reaching out and seeing if there were any other APWers around, but I got nothing last time! I’m glad I’m not the only one.

      And I would LOVE some date ideas. We’re in Richardson, but I’m game for anything in the area. Whatcha got?

      • MK

        Ok- You’ve got to try Twisted Root. There’s one in Richardson, but they’re popping up everywhere lately. They were on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives!

        Another food amazing place but it’s a hike: go to the Chef Point Cafe in Watauga. It’s waaaay out by Fort Worth, but it’s a 5 star restaurant in a gas station. You read that right. It’s incredible though and would make a stellar date.

        And apparently I love food, so another Fort Worth date is Joe T. Garcia’s in Fort Worth; great for after the stockyards! But bring cash; they don’t take cards.

        Nonfood: The state fair starts next month! You have to go! And maybe try some for the crazy food, but really the whole fair is an incredible experience. Since you work for UTD, you might get a student/teacher discount. Ask around. Go to the bird show, it’s one of the best things.

        If you like animals, both the Dallas and Fort Worth zoos are great–you get a reduced ticket price at the Dallas zoo if you ride the DART, and that’s way easier anyway. A pricier but very cool experience is the Dallas World Aquarium. Ignore the name; it’s less an aquarium and more an amazing animal experience. You can be within 3 feet of a sloth! And see manatees! And an ocelot! Don’t go when school is out of session (ie Spring Break) because it’s a madhouse.

        I love the Dallas Museum of Art, and now it’s free! You can also take the DART and it’s very easy to walk to. Don’t buy the food there, but go to the food trucks at the new Klyde Warren Park. It’s right around the corner. The Nasher Sculpture center is also cool (and is right next door), and isn’t usually free, but they periodically do a “Late Night at the Nasher” thing–definitely check that out. They do music and events in addition to the art.

        Oh, and right around the corner is the Crowe Museum of Asian Art. It’s free!

        There are a bunch of cool movie theaters; we just got an Alamo Drafthouse, but again that’s sort of near Downtown…

        Six Flags? It’s sort of old hat to locals, but I realize not everyone has them of course. Bring a Coca-cola can to get a discounted ticket.

        Come April/May, take a weekend day and go to Scarborough Faire. It is not really in any of the cities, but it’s a huge Ren Fest and it’s a lot of fun. Wear your sunscreen.

        The Dallas Farmers Market is a good deal. McKinney has a good one too, but its’ smaller.

        Sign up for the Pegasus News newsletter if you want things to do that may or may not be actually in Dallas. Sometimes they venture further afield. It’s a good event/ music roundup every week.

        Ok, I think I’ve probably overloaded you now! Yay people from Dallas!

      • Colleen

        My husband and I just recently moved away from Denton, which is about 40 minutes from Richardson. If you are willing to trek out there, the town square has an amazing ice cream parlor/soda shop called Beth Marie’s. Their ice cream is made on the premises and is fantastic. I miss it so, so much.
        The square also has a huge used book store housed in the old opera house (it’s also painted purple), an old fashioned candy store, among other things. We spent many a date night out there. :)

  • Amanda L.

    WOOT for the hometown of Rochester, NY (I grew up in Gates). I loved reading your story… even more so because I am at the opposite end of the spectrum. I met my DH at 32, married at 36. I am SO THANKFUL that I didn’t marry the guy I was dating at 18/19. This comment is totally void of any real point, so I’ll just finish with this – you ROCKED that dress!

    • Yeah, Rochester! And thank you so much for the dress comment! I will love that thing until the day that. If only I could find a dress that makes my boobs look that good that isn’t quite so…wedding-y.

      • Amanda L.

        Dye that thing a deep purple, or green (I’m thinking jewel tones), then wear it for New Year’s Eve, or an anniversary dinner, or someone else’s wedding!

  • Rachel

    So I’m guessing you got married on August 4 of last year, since that was the day of our rehearsal dinner, also in Rochester, before our wedding the next day. It was CRAZY hot that day, but from one August Rochester bride to another, congratulations! Upstate NY for the win!

    • Actually, we got married on July 13, but all of last summer was SO HOT. Hot for upstate NY, at least. I’m learning that 97 degrees is just another day in Dallas.

      But woo Rochester! Congratulations to you guys too. Where’d you get married?

      • Rachel

        We sort of had two weddings because we live abroad, but our WONDERFUL Rochester wedding was in Brighton, at the synagogue where I grew up. I’ve actually been meaning to write about our two-wedding extravaganza…it’s been a while since there was one on here! In any case, enjoy Dallas and new marriage.

  • This is so sweet. :) You guys are so lovely together.

    I’m glad I married my ex-husband. We were a couple years older than you, and we thought we would grow up together. That didn’t happen, but I don’t really regret the experience.

  • Leah

    This was my favorite APW post yet. Young relationships receive so much grief. I’m thankful to experience life with my best friend by my side to support me. I loved how she wrote about growing up and growing in together. This is one of the most valuable things I’ve learned in my relationship.

    • That’s so sweet of you to say, Leah. Thank you! Happy to hear that we’re not the only ones figuring it out as we go.

  • Mezza

    This is awesome. I’m 28 and marrying my girlfriend of 10 years in 3 weeks. Every time I try to explain to a new acquaintance that we met when we were 14 on a children’s choir tour in Brazil, I get the weirdest looks and a bunch of comments about “wow, that just doesn’t happen.”

    Well, clearly it does, and you and I are both evidence!

    I was also a bridesmaid in my friends’ wedding when I was 17 and they were 19, and 11 years later they’re still together and just had their first baby. I love these stories, probably even more because I’m living in one.

  • Wonderful way to start a morning.

    No matter how old you are when you get married you still have a lot of growing up to do and are constantly refiguring out who you are. The sooner you realize that the better.

    I love the concept of growing in too. I’ll be thinking about that idea all day.

  • Amber

    I know if I married any of the boys I was dating at 18-21…..ooooh boy, I doubt I’d be married now! But everyone’s story is different. Some people marry at the age of 30 and it fails, too. It’s romantic you found each other so young, now you get more time together :) Congratulations!

  • Yes yes yes to all of this.

    My husband and I married young as well. Similar situation – neither of us imagined marrying young, but we fell in love and we made it past hard stuff, and we lived together first, and we realized that we really did want to grow and adventure together, even if that’s not traditional in this day and age.

    I’ll be honest, I’m actually really grateful for the people who talked to us about the pitfalls of marrying young. I think that it’s really easy, in an engagement, to focus on the wedding. But that was never the big thing for us, and I think part of that is because marrying young was such a Big Deal. I’m not saying our marriage has been perfect, or that we had it all down from those in-depth conversations pre-nuptials. But I will say that we went into our marriage knowing that we would change, expecting it, having a game plan of communication and openmindedness and an overarching motto of – marriage is what we make of it. It’s what we want it to be, not something that society sets for us.

    If that means my husband wants to do Doctors Without Borders or I want to travel abroad often for my wedding photography business – we just talk about it with each other. When we have kids, we’ll settle down a bit more. But for now, we’re enjoying being young and keeping life an adventure together.

    • Nicole

      YES. Exactly just wouldn’t be enough. That was one of the biggest struggles for me when deciding whether or not I wanted to marry young. Dealing with the inevitable changes and learning that you don’t have to settle into a role once you get married- you can still be you. You just have someone to go on grand adventures with.

  • Kate

    This was a lovely post. As someone who met her now-fiance at 18 and somehow made it through those growing-up-and-finding-out-who-you-are years together, it really resonated with me. Thank you for sharing!

  • alyssa

    Amen for the young marrieds! I’m so sorry you heard all those nay-sayers and doubt speakers. Good for you for knowing your heart and your stubbornness and choosing love anyway!
    I’m 24 and coming up on 2 years of marriage, and I’m so happy we got hitched when we did. Growing and learning together and into each other – it’s a magical thing. Keep going!

  • Magda

    “All of that high school counselor bullshit about figuring out who you are and who you’re supposed to be, that’s real. And that’s us. But we’re doing it together.”

    I really love this sentiment. I met my partner almost 6 years ago when I was 19 (we’re getting married in 3 months), and I’ve realized that even though I never thought I’d be in a serious relationship at 19 or married at 25, these things didn’t preclude the whole “finding oneself” journey. In fact, it made it so much easier! I’ve realized that happiness, for me, has very little to do with doing everything in the “right order,” and more to do with playing life by ear and figuring out what my priorities are as I go. I often say that my partner has always made me feel more like the person I want to be–that is, together we are much more than just two individuals living together; we make each other better. To me, getting to spend life with this person and have all these adventures together is the most rewarding thing I can imagine.

    Congratulations on your celebration and partnership, and I hope you have a lot of great adventures together in years to come!

    • Jenna

      “these things didn’t preclude the whole “finding oneself” journey”

      “my partner has always made me feel more like the person I want to be”

      Very profound! I feel that a true partnership is finding someone who you can “find yourself” with, growing together instead of apart. That journey transcends age, gender and social status, although planning a wedding can bring intense judgments about all of these things by everyone else! I say, that when you find the person who grows with you, you have found a true life partner.

  • Thanks to everyone for your sweet words. I’m glad that this resonates with some and makes others think. I love this community and I’m thankful for such kind people to share my story with.

    • Jenna

      Thank you very much for posting. This was beautifully written and really resonated with me. We’ve been dating since we were 16 (nearly 5 years now, crazy!) and talking about marriage since we tackled our first year of college together and came out stronger. Your story also connects with mine in that he is also in the military; his time in Army BCT and AIT was our first extended time apart. It sucked, but we also grew more into ourselves, but also together. It’s great to read about some one else who “gets it.” We faced many older people telling us to go live our lives, but what I never understood is that I AM living my life, just with another person. Sure, it limits me in some regard, mostly in that I have to make compromises, but I also have a great friend and support system that I would give up by going at it alone. It is very encouraging to read about how you were able to work and grow together and get to the other side, to marriage and overcoming a lot of judgement and opinions. Congratulations!

      • Exactly, Jenna. We’re living our lives, getting all we can out of them; we just have partners to do it all with. And isn’t experiencing things with a best friend so much better??

        Thank you so much for your sweet words. Best wishes to you and your high school sweetheart :)

  • Amanda

    My fiance and I met in HS, but didn’t start dating until college at 18 and 19. After graduation, the tough economy meant our jobs took us to different places. We did long distance for three years and now have finally lived in the same place for the past year. When I first meet people, they find it so odd that we’ve been dating for 8 years and aren’t married yet. Everyone’s journey is different but I’m really happy we stuck it out and am so excited for our wedding in June!

  • elle

    I love everything about this. I love the words, I love the photos…my god, Jackie, your smile is just utterly infectious. It’s amazing to see such joy :)

  • Jackie!!! So fun to see a post from one of my blogger buddies, and another young bride. Cheers to new adventures and getting more time with the person you love by finding them early on! :)

  • Aubry

    That first picture make me SO HAPPY! You are so cute and so in love!!

  • Sarah

    My husband and I married at 25 and 26, and many in his family (mostly his parents), thought we were too young. Five years later, I think we were young, but I wouldn’t change a thing. Being able to grow together during those formative years is a gift. From my perspective now, I think the key is being consciously committed to growing together, even when there is so much individual growing you do as well. Finding love young and building a life together is a beautiful thing – enjoy the ride!

  • Kestrel

    As someone else who met their fiance at 18, solidarity!

    Granted, we waited a bit longer to get married as we’ll be getting married on our 6th anniversary, but that was partly a logistics issue, and partly because my SO’s dad married relatively young and got divorced (and it was not a pretty divorce – it even affected my SO who was born 8 years after the divorce).

    But he’s my first boyfriend, and I’m his second girlfriend. We weren’t really looking for anything long-term, but it just kind of happened. Thankfully we’ve so far gotten no blow-back. I think because my SO is established in his career and I’m solidly plowing my way through advanced degrees.

  • JC

    I love the crap out of this. I’m twenty-three, and my husband is twenty-five; we started dating when we were seventeen and nineteen, during the beginning of my freshman year of college. We got married about a week and a half ago (or a month ago, legally speaking), so not quite as young, but I feel you on the “well-meaning adult questions” front. Oof.

    “All of that high school counselor bullshit about figuring out who you are and who you’re supposed to be, that’s real. And that’s us. But we’re doing it together.”

    Yes yes yes <3

  • YES. Exactly this. My wife and I fell in love when I was 19 and she was 22, and married at 21 and 25. Ours took a bit of the same journey as it seems you went through, and it’s hard and perfect all at once. We’ve been married for three and a half years now and are going strong, though, so CONGRATULATIONS! And best of luck with everything.

  • Melissa

    This story. This story is our story, almost exactly. We met the first weekend of college, went through a bit of a rough patch, travelled, and got married at 23 and 24. Figuring out who you are, and sharing that experience with someone who loves you more than anyone else, is really a beautiful thing. Good luck to you!

  • katie-did

    I LOVE IT!!!

    My fiance and I will celebrate 10 years together this week. We were high school sweethearts and first loves and everything to each other throughout our senior yr of hs, college (apart and then finally together) and navigating the murky ‘adult’ world of post-graduation. While we decided to wait until we were financially stable to get married, (which never happens… I beginning to think this is an elaborate myth or a practical joke played on unsuspecting liberal-arts majors) we’ve been living together for years now, and people are still shocked when I tell them how long we’ve been dating.

    So much of your post resonated with me and our relationship. We struggled with parents and adults who seemed to want to invalidate our love for each other simply because we met young and didn’t “get to date other people”.

    But growing up together and growing in together as you say, are some of the greatest experiences of my life, and I wouldn’t trade them for any number of summer flings or one-night-stands that don’t mean anything.

    So here’s to young love, married or otherwise! Cheers to you girlfriend!

  • Maddy

    Thank you for this lovely post full of hope and joy! My fiancé and I are 18, and I will be very newly 20 when we do marry. We were so lucky not to cop all the flak that you seem to have, and have all the support we could ever want. Your post fills me with hope and excitement for my upcoming wedding, and for the rest of our engagement!

  • AJ

    Jackie, are you a Roberts Wesleyan grad? Class of ’07, here!
    Your photographer and the fact that you’ve even heard of North Chili, NY were my clues :)
    Thank you for writing this beautiful post, it’s so inspiring to hear that your young love is still going strong!

    • AJ, I am! Class of 2012! That’s so funny. BA is becoming like the town photographer for Roberts and I love that you recognized my hometown just from that. I’m from Hilton, but I hopped down 259 for school.

      Class of ’07, that was Leah Stacy/Pete Wayner’s class, right? Do you know people like that? Or who do you know?

      Yay for APW bringing us all together :)

      • AJ


        You might know Sharlene Buel, I think she graduated in 2012.

        I know Leah Stacy, but really just by name. I was a transfer student, so I only had a few friends in my graduating class. Meg (Roupe) Hartman (who works in Rinker now) and Cassie (Quinn) Hooker are the two that I still keep in contact with now. Most of my friends were underclassmen who graduated in ’09 or thereabouts.

  • Sarah

    You go! Personally I’m thankful I waited until my 30s to get married and I benefitted greatly from my previous realationships, as painful as their breakups were. But I realized recently that if I had been fortunate enough to meet the right person earlier, we would have gone through all those growing pains together instead of separately. I look at my friend who is my age and she can leave her 4 kids at home with their oldest. That’s a pretty sweet life too. One isn’t better than the other, it’s just life. Good luck to both of you as you continue life’s journey together.

  • Arielle

    It’s kind of funny because I’m from upstate NY originally but have spent the last 8 years in NC. I’m 23 now and don’t think it’s that weird to have a bunch of friends getting married or engaged. But a lot of my NY friends and family think it’s the weirdest most backwards thing. So it’s definitely a regional thing.

  • We were married when we were 22. Five years in and I don’t regret it. We didn’t receive very much grief for our age and choices unless you were talking online or to any of my coworkers at the time, many who were international interns. Anyway, my perspective is that marriage is hard, yo. Doesn’t matter if you are 22, 32, 42. If you aren’t growing in the relationship together, and relying on one another, and yourselves get stretched too thin, THAT’S when it is hardest. Not because of your birth date.

  • Sloane

    “We’ll think about how we went through a lot of really great stuff together and a lot of tough shit too, but we made it work. We always figured it out together and we always will and as we keep growing up, we’ll keep growing in. This process of growing up together and growing into each other is not something to be taken lightly, but it’s me and it’s him and I don’t want it to ever end.”

    This. Is. My. Life. I’m 24 and I’ve been married for one week. We’ve been together since I was 18 (though he’s three years older) and I so so related to this message, like, perfectly. I felt young being engaged at 23 and my prior experience is extremely scarce; but who cares? I thought, “I can’t imagine a better person, a better situation. There is no such thing as an improvement.” And here we are. I couldn’t be happier.

    And I’m happy for you guys, too!

    Also…Rochester! Went to college there and now live in WNY. Looks really really beautiful. You must have hit that one heat wave we got…