Being Married Young Rocks


Defending Young Marriage

Jerry and I got married on October 11, 2009, in the beautiful mountains of north Georgia. We were both 23. We hadn’t waited until marriage to have sex, I wasn’t pregnant, and there was no one pressuring us to get married. We simply knew that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together, and there was no reason to wait.

Our marriage is both traditional and nontraditional. It’s traditional in that, on paper, we are perfect for each other—we’re from the same place, we have the same religious/cultural background, we’re both college-educated, we view money in (mostly) the same way, and our families get along swimmingly. It’s nontraditional in that we’ve always lived in group housing situations, we both changed our last names when we got married, and less than a year after our wedding, we up and moved to Colombia without jobs or friends here.

Defending Young Marriage

It’s funny how just one generation can change the way society views marriage. When my mother got married at 27, she was old. Even now at 25, almost two years after our wedding, people I meet are surprised that I’m married (it doesn’t help that I look like I’m 16). I have spent too much time justifying why I’m married, explaining to people that we dated for a long time first or all of our friends told us that if they knew anyone else getting married that young they would’ve thought it was crazy, but for us they thought it made sense. But I’m tired of justifying it, because young marriage rocks.

So far, one of the greatest things about being married young is that I have this person who holds me accountable. Not in the annoying, nagging sense (though that happens, too), but rather in the sense that we have been able to define both individual and family goals, remind each other that it’s important to follow through on at least some of those, and remember that it takes work and patience. When I talk to people about all of the things that Jerry and I plan to do (live in France at some point, start up an irbutz), the response is usually, “Yeah, yeah, we’ll see if that actually happens,” along with a good eye roll.

The point isn’t whether or not all of our dreams will come true (though so far we’ve followed through on quite a number of them), but rather that we let ourselves dream together. We’ll be there to celebrate with each other when some of those goals come to fruition, and we’ll be there to comfort each other when others don’t. All along the way, we’ll be pushing each other to become better versions of ourselves, to push our limits, to imagine what life could be like, and to relish the present. We have been growing up together, shaping each other to define what’s important in life, and giving each other the confidence to seek that out.

Defending Young Marriage

Young marriage rocks because I have been able to allow myself to be vulnerable (if you haven’t watched this TED Talk by Brene Brown, go watch it. Now.) in a way that is different from how it was when Jerry was just my boyfriend. It’s a let-myself-be-known-completely vulnerability that gives me the strength to be open to experiences in other parts of my life, as well.

Another awesome aspect of being married young is that I feel a sense of belonging. OK, I know that as a young feminist, I shouldn’t think of myself as “belonging” to my spouse—but hey, it goes both ways because he belongs to me, too. In this age of the world not making much sense, of my generation wondering where it is we belong—geographically, in our professional lives, or our place in the grand scheme of things—the world makes a little more sense to me. I am already a part of something bigger than myself that I constantly contribute to and that I constantly receive from. The peace of mind and self-assurance that comes with my marriage allows me to take my time in figuring out the rest.

You hear people talk about 50% divorce rates and how those rates are even higher for people who get married young. But what about that other percentage of successful marriages, of couples that go on to be married for 60 years? Or those couples that grow up together all through their 20s, and when they look back during their mid-life crises to those days of being young and in love, it’s with the same person that they wake up next to every day? What about those couples who have awesome, regular sex throughout their lives because they don’t have to worry about looking for a partner? What about those people who focus on making themselves better as individuals because the biggest question mark in their life is already answered?

Defending Young Marriage

I am grateful for having had the sense to marry Jerry and not worry about all the “missed opportunities” of dating other people. You can be sure I don’t wake up every day and think, “I wish I had dated more people, I wish we had waited three more years to get married.” Rather, I look at him and think, “I am the luckiest person alive to have found him when I did, to have this person to encourage me to become the best me, to share life with, and to figure out the future together.”

Photography: Phil Skinner, all rights reserved

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  • It’s true, I’ve encountered large amounts of skepticism regarding marriage, especially young marriage. With regards to what you say about vulnerability, I wonder if that skepticism is in part caused by how intensely scary it can be to be vulnerable with another person. The turn towards the individual that our society has taken has maybe made it harder for people to really think in teams, feeling that they should always protect themselves from any hurt by others.

    It’s lovely and refreshing to read an account of someone who married ‘young’ and married out of an internal conviction (unlike those couples whom I know personally – they all cited religious motives). Thank you for your perspective!

    Unrelated: TED talks are awesome :)

  • “We were both 23. We hadn’t waited until marriage to have sex, I wasn’t pregnant, and there was no one pressuring us to get married. We simply knew that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together, and there was no reason to wait.”

    Amen, sister friend. This is exactly our situation. When my husband asked my grandfather for permission to marry me, my grandfather asked if we “had” to get married. Also known as, “did you knock up my granddaughter?” Unlike most couples who get married later in life than 23, we had to defend that we wanted to be married because we wanted to be married. No other reason. Nothing hidden. Nothing going to show up in eight and a half months.

    This is such a great post because it’s all so wonderfully true. I love belonging to someone and having someone who belongs to me even if I’m only 22. I take inspiration from the statistics in which people who are married young maintain a strong marriage for their entire lives. And thankfully, my grandparents are a wonderful living example. It may have been a different time when they got married at 18, but 50 years later, they’re still holding strong so I have faith we can do.

  • Kate

    Thank you for this post! I got married last year at 22, and both as an engaged person in undergrad and to some extent now in grad school, I feel a subtle need to explain myself as well. I know that being married at this age is right for me, and I am glad to read this post by someone who is in a similar situation.

  • My brother has been married to his wife for 20 years. They married when he was not quite 20 and she was 19. Neither finished college, so by a statistical measure, their marriage is supposed to be one of the ones that would fail. They’re quite happily married and still gush at how attracted they are to one another — twenty years and two kids later.

    Statistics schmatistics.

    • & mine was married at 20 and 14 years later is going through a divorce, one that he attributes to being married too young. So. You never know.

      • meg

        I think “you never know” is sort of my sum up on divorce (except, you know, the times when YOU REALLY DO KNOW, and you leave the wedding looking like you left a car wreck). But other than those times, it’s so hard to predict. Sometimes the seemingly perfect couples don’t make it, sometimes the mismatched couples do, sometimes the young couples make it, sometimes the older couples make it… I’ve yet to see a reassuring pattern :)

        • Yes. My parents have a truly self-righteous belief that even though they married at 18 and 21 that they’re still together because they worked harder than everyone else. (I think it’s because my dad has a garage that he routinely hides in.) I have a gut feeling that anyone who brings up a reason that others get divorced or a reason that they are still with their spouse is doing so because the thought that divorce could be unpredictable is too scary.

        • Well … My brother is quite happily married (young). I married at 21, and divorced 14 years later.

          I think it all depends on the couple. In my case, there were things that were not right before the wedding, and we grew (or didn’t) in different directions. My brother and his wife are much more high functioning.

          I’m three weeks away from my wedding to my first boyfriend, and as much as we regret the missing years, we’re also glad that we didn’t get married to each other when we were young because, personally, we were each The Suck at relationships when we were young, and the intervening 20 years really helped us grow into the kind of people we are now. Our relationship is very different than our first marriages, partly because we now know what we really want in life and in a partner.

    • Julia

      The plural of “anecdote” is “anecdotes.” Not data.

  • Marley

    Thank you for this post!! This is one I really needed to read right now!

  • Awesome! Your relationships sounds totally amazing (and not wholly dissimilar to mine). I too was seeking the same thing in a partner for years and years, and I completely resonate with your comment about the big question mark in my life. For a long time, I just didn’t have the balance I wanted.

    I’m 29 and just married. I didn’t wait for the heck of it; I just hadn’t found my guy yet. But rest assured that if I had found him earlier (and we had been who we are today, which is another big if), I would have married him earlier. He makes me happier every day, and I strive to be a better person because of him. And he does the same for me. It is a wonderful feeling. I am so glad I waited for him, and I am equally glad that I jumped on marrying him quickly. In my circles, it is normal to wait 5 or 10 years before marrying. We got married just shy of 3 years of meeting each other. But I knew within three months, so I consider this patience.

    Thanks for the great article and perspective. As for France, the irbutz, and all the rest: you go, girl!

    • I think maybe that’s the question about marrying young – whether you *are* the person at 23 that you are at 30/40/50/60 whatever. I will definitely say that my 20s were times of incredible change, but that things seem to have settled down a bit more in my early 30s. In theory I think you can grow and change in wonderfully complementary ways to someone, and then that’s a gorgeous time of progression for both of you. The downside is that somepeople don’t weather all those changes in quite the same gracefully synched way through their 20s. I’ve seen a couple of friends who married comparatively young (24,25) not make it, but then I’m not 100% sure they married for the same thoughtful reasons you describe here.

      • Robin here.

        I think that regardless of the age that you get married, you (should) go into it knowing that the person you are marrying, as well as yourself, will change over time. I sure as hell hope Jerry isn’t going to be the same when he’s 30/40/50, whatever! The idea is that you believe that person is someone who will help you change in a positive way and vice-versa. Of course it sometimes doesn’t work out, but like many people have said here, it’s probably because you didn’t marry the right person.

        • I’m with you on the assumption that we will both change dramatically over the course of our lives. In fact, for me part of getting married was about deciding that I wanted my husband to be a person who influenced that change, and was part of it, and experienced it with me. At the same time, though, I appreciate the self-awareness of many who simply want to go through that turbulence (often teens and 20’s) without a marriage relationship. Neither are better or worse, just different.

          • Yes exactly. Saying that it’s a great thing to get married young doesn’t have to mean that it isn’t a great thing to get married when you are older – our stories are different but have their own value & own points of bad and good.

      • Marina

        As someone who first got together with my husband at age 16 and married at age 24, one of the reasons I was ok with getting married “young” was because we’d already spent so much turbulent time growing together rather than apart. I know it doesn’t work that way for a lot of young couples, and believe me we put a lot of thought into our reasons for committing to each other–I was honestly pretty terrified of falling into the “marrying just because we don’t have the imagination to see ourselves with anyone else” trap. But once I was sure that wasn’t the case, I think the tools we developed while figuring out how to grow complementarily in identity-turbulent times are tools that have helped us since and will continue to help us.

        • Yes to the turbulent times being an affirmation of commitment. When Hubs went through a very serious stage of PTSD, there were lots of moments when I thought to myself, “I’m too young and inexperienced to know how to deal with this.” (I was 21.) At some point I realized how self-pitying that was and knew that it if I wanted my partner in my life, I had to push myself through the unfamiliar territory. It was do or die and it would have been so at any age. I think sometimes people use their age as a crutch to wimp out. Definitely not all the time and there are lots of advantages to age and wisdom before marriage but unfamiliarity is the same level of hard at any age, I imagine.

        • Caroline

          I agree that being in partnership through the tumoultous times of being young can be really powerful. My partner and I have been together since I was 16 and he was 19. We have changed so much since we met, always growing together rather than apart. Sometimes I look back on the kids we were and wonder how we were so certain this was the person we wanted to be with for the rest of our lives at such a youn ge, but I also so glad we did.
          I’m 21 now, and we haven’t married yet because I just went back to school, and we both beleive it’s important to be financially independent before getting married, and my parents are generously helping pay my expenses through school. So contrary to our original plans, we probably will be married closer to the national average rather than young. But plans change, and together we’ve always helped eachother dream and work toward our dreams, and made sure that plans involving the two of us were “our” plans together.

        • Sarah S

          Yes, yes, yes. We’ve been dating since I was 17 and he was 18 and we were friends before that. When we get married next year, we’ll be 23 & 24. Having been through high school and college together, navigating those major changes and evolving dreams and life goals with each other there for support and inspiration, I’m not so much afraid of the changes that will happen in the future. Sure, we’ll continue to change – individually and in terms of our relationship. But we already have quite a bit of change under our belts and have come out none the worse for wear. Growing together feels really natural at this point.

  • As I read this the points you made just keep on getting better and better…

    I just got married, as in last month, and I’m 22. So I’m the first out of pretty much everyone my age to get married, and sure, I met with a lot of ‘But…how old are you?’ and I always felt the need to justify what I was doing (‘oh, it’s ok, we’ve been dating 6 years’) and it makes me pretty annoyed that I felt the need to justify my decision to strangers. And I was never quite brave enough to say what I wanted to say, which was ‘Oh, well, I’m 22, and how old are you?’

    But, being married young is fantastic. I’m not so stuck in my ways yet so there’s a lot of space to form our own ways, and because getting married young is a bit unconventional, it lets you be unconventional in other areas too..or at least to show the people my age who think that getting married is a trap and oh-but-you’ve-only-dated-one-person-ever that no, having one person in your life you can be completly free with and is going to be there for you no matter what an idiot you are is a great, great thing.

    Plus, the best thing about ‘having the greatest question in your life already answered’ means that you can have a safe place to ask go…’hey, ok, we’ve got this one done. Now let’s ask more questions? What would life look like if we did this?…what would it be like if we lived here?’ You get someone to do your growing up with. You get someone to have adventures with.

    • YES! To all of the above.

    • “You get someone to have adventures with.”

      That’s exactly how I feel! I got married almost 6 months ago, at ages 21 and 22. The adventure-scheming is maybe my favorite part of being married and still having so much life ahead of us.

    • KOTF

      “Plus, the best thing about ‘having the greatest question in your life already answered’ means that you can have a safe place to ask go…’hey, ok, we’ve got this one done. Now let’s ask more questions? What would life look like if we did this?”

      Yes yes yes! Long-time lurker, first time commenter over here. Though I’m still a pre-engaged gal, I am a young one, and this was exactly the reminder I needed. The boy and I have been discussing our marital future for awhile, and I’ve felt almost embarrassed to share with others that we’re approaching the point where we’ll be ready for engagement and marriage. I found it initially confusing to feel embarrassed about my relationship and took it as a red flag before realizing I was having a classic case of Going Against the Norm-itis.

      We’re planning a move across the world (also no jobs/friends lined up), and plenty other aspects of our lives don’t fall under the “traditional” category. I’ve never been one too concerned about how my decisions line up against what others deem I “should” be doing, so why would I let my decisions about marriage falter against the opinions of those who might not even have the full picture (and um, its my life and my relationship–who else CAN really have the full picture)?

      I think what trips me up is that the comments that go something like: “You’re too young to even realize how much you don’t know” are pretty damn hard to argue against. But then, that’s the point–whether or not I get married and when isn’t a point to be argued with others (except maybe with the boy. In which case we will argue respectfully and have a multi-tabbed browser window open full of APW articles throughout said discussion).

    • Ris

      I love this discussion! I’m newly engaged at 22, and will be 23 when we get married (and he’ll be 24). When we first started talking about Marriage Stuff I had a mild freak-out moment – what about all those things I’ve always wanted to do on my own? I’m running out of time to live out my dreams!

      But then I sat down and actually made a list of all of those things (travel to all of the continents, front a rock band), and not one of them required me to be single – and in fact, I realized I would much rather do those things WITH Eric rather than alone. I miss him when I travel now, why extend that any longer than I must?

      I know it sounds crazy, but I had to realize that marriage does not equal the death of the individuals, but instead that it will give me, as you call it, an adventure partner. And I’m excited for our adventures.

  • This post reminds me of one of my best friends. She got married at twenty-three as well. She and her husband have been together since they were sixteen. Seven years later, their marriage is one of the strongest I’ve known and they have been together nearly half their lives. I have watched them fulfill dreams and be a rock to the other. I have also watched them grow together in really amazing ways. Before I met V, I didn’t want to get married. I had never had great role models for it and marriage seemed stultifying. However, knowing her and bearing witness to this strong, beautiful marriage she has opened my eyes to the fact that yes, I could make marriage what I wanted if I was brave enough to choose it. And yes, good marriages exist. She has been my biggest role model in that respect.

    • Caroline

      I love that my partner and I will have been together for a third of my life by the time I’m 24, and half of it by the time I’m 32. It sometimes freaks people out, but I think it’s wonderful.

  • Also, moving to Columbia = awesome.

    • Um yes. I got distracted by your pictures and thought, oh! we could so be friends with these guys!

      Congrats on your marriage being a freeing and wonderful experience for you. I’m confident and hopeful that I’ll feel that way about my own.

  • m

    I try really hard not to defend our choice to get married young beyond that we knew what we wanted and when you know that, it doesn’t make sense to put it off until you’re old enough for people not to judge you. That being said, I’m the youngest in my grad program to be married and my classmates seem to think that means I have everything figured out and that they’re missing something. It actually just means I have a really great person to help me figure things out and support me a long the way.

    • Harriet

      I love the way you phrase it in the last sentence of your comment–it’s not about having it all figured out, it’s about having someone to figure out with. I wouldn’t be surprised if that was true whatever age you got married.

      • m

        Agreed.. its never all figured out is it!

  • Harriet

    Thank you for this great post, Robin. I love what you said about how marriage allows you to be vulernable and open in a way that you weren’t before you were married–maybe I’ll try that next time someone asks me if being married has changed anything!

    I’m also relatively young–I just got married a few months ago at 24, and my partner was just shy of 25 at the time. We’d been together for four and a half years when we got engaged (five and a half when we got married), and we’d seen each change and grow and become (in my opinion) better and stronger people. I think of it as a privilege to be with my husband at this phase of our lives, when we’re both still growing into the people we want to be, and pushing each other to dream bigger and go after those dreams. Of course, older people can do the same (APW has plenty of examples!), but I do think that getting married young, if the chips fall that way, gives you extra practice.

  • Oh yes, this is exactly what it is about. Yay to you guys for standing up for yourselves, for doing what is right for you, no matter what society or statistics say. After all, numebers are numbers, but when you make an average opposite situations cancel each other, and it does not mean any particular situation is doomed. It’s what you make of it.

    And this “The point isn’t whether or not all of our dreams will come true , but rather that we let ourselves dream together. We’ll be there to celebrate with each other when some of those goals come to fruition, and we’ll be there to comfort each other when others don’t. All along the way, we’ll be pushing each other to become better versions of ourselves, to push our limits, to imagine what life could be like, and to relish the present” is how it should be.

    Did you have any particular reasons to move to Colombia (just curious here). ?

    • Hey,

      There were a couple of things pushing us to Colombia. Robin spoke good Spanish, and I spoke a bit, so a Spanish-speaking country was the obvious choice. We knew that we wanted to live in a big, modern city, so that narrowed it down to Mexico City, Lima, Santiago, Buenos Aires, Bogotá, and Medellin. Mexico’s a little dangerous right now and DF might be just a little too big for us, Colombia has the same weather year-round and has really cheap flights to and from the United States. Lastly, we knew a number of Americans who had previously lived in Colombia and Colombians who wouldn’t stop telling us great things about the city and the country. These people also passed on their contacts to help us build a social network for ourselves once we got here.

      But yeah, there was a good bit of “spin the globe and point” in the decision making process.

      • Was going to respond and then saw that Jerry did. :)

        If anyone is ever in Bogotá, or knows someone else cool who lives here, please let me know! I’m hoping to get an APW book club together…

        • Sarabeth

          We’ll be there for new years! Not sure if it’s book-club time, really, but if y’all are around then (and not back in the US visiting folks here) we would totally hang out.

          • We’ll be here! Check out our blog and comment and we’ll be in touch. :)

        • Ali

          Hey – I live in Bogotá and would love a book club! Let me know if you´ve already got it started!

      • Jeff

        Loved the article! Lina and I married Oct. 10, 2009. She’s from Colombia. I was 26, she was 23. Interesting little connections…

        I’m happy to hear about your choice to move down there (LOVE Colombia!), to do what seems right, and to grow together authentically.

        We’ll be in Pereira in May for about a month, and maybe Bogota depending on weather, time, etc. It would be great if our paths crossed!

        What has been your employment experience thus far? Have you found something sustainable? What about connecting with other cool couples? Lina and I are both full time grad students right now but have talked about moving down there long term. How has it been overall?

        • Hey Jeff! We’d love to meet up if you’re in Bogotá. I won’t go into too much detail on APW since it’s not exactly the right forum – but you can head over to our blog (linked to my name) to see more about our lives here and keep in touch about your visit.

  • HOORAY for this post!! I wish I could “exactly” it a thousand times. When we get married, I’ll be a month shy of 26, but I was 24 when I proposed. I was shocked by the opinions some felt entitled to share about my age. First of all, I don’t believe that the number of years you’ve been alive is an accurate predictor of experience or maturity. Second, I found it incredibly hurtful that all of a sudden very important people in my life were questioning my judgment. And third, the researcher in me was super annoyed that people kept trying to apply marriage stats based on heterosexual couples to my gay relationship. It’s been several months now and people seem to have come around, but I’m so glad to hear that I’m not the only one who has dealt with this. Thanks for writing, Robin!

    • “First of all, I don’t believe that the number of years you’ve been alive is an accurate predictor of experience or maturity.”

      Um, THANK YOU. Looking back, some of the most disapproving older folks in our lives were the least mature.

      • Class of 1980

        Heck, my dad is in his seventies now and he’s incredibly immature! And I know people in their twenties who are already very mature.

    • “I don’t believe that the number of years you’ve been alive is an accurate predictor of experience or maturity.”

      THIS. This this this.

  • I really like this post. The point about marriage freeing you up to worry about other things is so well made. I feel like I spent most of my twenties preoccupied with finding a partner, and it was horrible because that wasn’t what I wanted to focus on, but I couldn’t help it. I was dude-crazy. Or perhaps for me I just needed that question to be settled. Ever since my husband and I started dating – well okay about a year in – I’ve been able to really put energy into focusing on other things. I’ve grown so much more professionally and personally because I had so much more time! People don’t like to talk about that bit – you’re supposed to be independent and be able to focus on other things regardless of your relationship status but I was never very good at it, and I know I’m not the only one. Excellent post.

  • Lethe

    I love that you say you had the “sense” to marry your partner when you did. That’s how I feel about my marriage – we just married this year (I’m 27), but we’d been together since I was 20. Sometimes we look at each other and it hits us that, wow – we’re really not the same people we were when we got together. We’ve grown up and changed quite a bit, and in so many ways we have improved and stabilized and come into our own – but we’ve done it together. When I look back at the decision to commit to this relationship, I remember having the deep conviction that it was “good sense;” that even when other things in my life were still uncertain, it was an unquestionably right decision that would be a positive influence in my life, and that I would continue to grow into the happiness of this relationship over the years. I’m so glad I trusted my gut.

    • Sometimes we look at each other and it hits us that, wow – we’re really not the same people we were when we got together. We’ve grown up and changed quite a bit, and in so many ways we have improved and stabilized and come into our own – but we’ve done it together.

      I totally get this! My fiancé and I have been together almost nine years, from age 14(!) to age 23 (now). In that time we’ve lived on 3 continents, often separately, gone to different colleges, and moved across the country together. The response I often get from people is “but I can’t imagine marrying the person I was dating at 14!” I’ve always said we aren’t the same people we were at 14, but just happened to be lucky enough to stay in love with the people we’ve become.

      • Marina

        Haha, oh my god, I would never have married the guy my husband was at age 19 when we first got together. I’d never thought of it that way before–that’s pretty hilarious. :)

        • Same. I didn’t know him then but from what I hear, we probably would have hated each other.

        • This is a HILARIOUS thought! At that age I would have been decorating the bleachers he was hanging out smoking underneath!

          Frankly, my younger self was into 1. hot guys and 2. hot guys. I TRIED to like nice guys, I really did try. And smart guys… but sadly, I just didn’t believe in myself enough at that time to be ready for a guy who was the whole package: hot AND nice AND smart. However, hot guys who were smart (and mean to me) hell, yeah. They sang the song I was singing to myself inside my own head, after all. A hot nice smart guy? I didn’t deserve that…

          So happy to hear young, confident women making smart and considered choices… it’s lovely.

          And by the way, nobody has said yet how freakin’ ADORABLE these guys are. YOU’RE SO CUTE!

  • This post is a fantastic example of how everything comes down to what works for a particular couple. I know I’ve been judgmental of couples who get married young. (A girl I knew in college got married between our junior and senior years, which of course led to gossip.) But one thing Robin said rang particularly true for me:

    “You can be sure I don’t wake up every day and think, “I wish I had dated more people, I wish we had waited three more years to get married.” Rather, I look at him and think, “I am the luckiest person alive to have found him when I did, to have this person to encourage me to become the best me, to share life with, and to figure out the future together.””

    Even though my finance and I have been together for eight years, I can totally relate to this. I had one or two “dates” before dating my fiance and I would not trade our relationship for any number of others. If I wasn’t with my fiance now, I’m pretty sure I’d still be single just because no one else is that appealing. We waited to get married because that was our situation. Robin’s post reminded me that so many couples (even those who get married young or get married after knowing each other for two months) feel the same. Really well done, Robin!

  • Thanks for writing this! It can definitely be tough facing the public scrutiny that often comes with getting married young – especially because some of the worst judgement and scrutiny often comes from the very feminist communities that advocate supporting women’s right to make their own choices! (not this community, of course!)

    I’m 24 and getting married next fall. The concept of attaching a specific biological age to having enough maturity and self-awareness to make such a life-altering decison is bizarre to me. At 24, I’ve travelled extensively (mostly solo), lived abroad for 2 years, lived independently for 7 years, and am comfortably confident in who I am. (Side note: I’m not saying travelling and living abroad is the only road to self-discovery, or a guaranteed one at that, but it was my road). Will I continue to change in the coming years? I sure hope so! If I stop changing and evolving, I’m doing something wrong. But I am confident that I’ve picked the right person to grow and evolve with me, to support me and encourage me as I continue to change and develop.

    Statistics are just numbers. My fiance’s parents who got married at 19 and 20 just celebrated their 28th wedding anniversary and I still catch them making out in the kitchen. They’re totally, completely, 100% in love all these years later. My parents? Got married at nearly 30 and divorced a few years later. The difference? It wasn’t age. My fiance’s parents were right for eachother, and my parents weren’t. Age doesn’t change that, the only thing it CAN change is your awareness of that fact, but there’s no biological age where you magically gain self-awareness, and everyone hits that milestone at a different point.

  • Thank you, thank you a million times thank you! The post the other day about the long engagement came at the right time. I’m 9 months away from my wedding, I’ve had to step away from the blogs and the pretty I have wedding fatigue. I’m so done with the planning and so ready for the marriage.

    Then today you give me this gem. I’m 21 now I will be 22 and one week when we get married. I have been engaged for 3 years on the 16th, and it’s really starting to wear me down, that our age seems to give everyone a free pass to judge our desire to marry. I’m thankful that I have amazing parents, my Dad was 21 when he married my Mum who is 15 years old than him. They completely understand. People put actual bets on how long my parents would be married, some refused to buy them gifts until they had been married 6 months (as they thought it would only last that long) They have been together 25 years now.

    I love that we like you and the other comments get to grow together with our partners. You have really lifted my spirits thank you the haters we’re starting to get me down.

  • I admit that I am a longtime judgy-pants of marrying young. Very silly, I know – and every smart narrative like this one helps remind me of that fact. Thank you for writing today.

    (and I have to say, a happiness comes through like crazy in these photos)

    • I really appreciate this and respect you for admitting it. Thank you.

  • Yay young practical wedders! I’m 23 now and will be getting married next year at 24. We’ve also dated for a long time (9 years in December!), didn’t wait to have sex until marriage, aren’t pregnant, aren’t particularly religious, the list goes on of reasons people assume we’re getting married. When I’m home in Texas, even in a city, no one thinks marrying at 24 is strange, but when I’m in the northeast where I went to college or in the midwest where I’m in graduate school, people look at me like I’m crazy.

    I love what you say about accountability. I’ve found that being in committed relationship has made me more motivated in many ways. I’m a current PhD student and am working my butt off to get out of school, because my fiancé and I decided that he would delay graduate school until I finish. I really want to make sure I get out of here in the minimum time possible so that he doesn’t have to wait any longer to start his career.

    I’ve found being serious with someone at a young age has also made me braver in many ways. I feel like part of a team out to conquer the world and know that I will always have him to fall back on. It’s a good feeling to not be alone when starting out the great adventure that is life.

    • I’m glad you pointed out the regional issues here, because terms like “old” and “young” are totally dependent on your generation and location and ethnicity and religion and so much else. There is no real universal standard, just as there should be no universal standard for what a “bride” looks like.

      • Carrie

        Yeah. When I read the headline for this post, I totally thought it was going to be about getting married upon graduation from high school. When I read it, I was like “wait … people think 23 is crazy young?” because 23 was a completely normal age for people to get married in my social circle. Like, I feel like I got married on the late side of things because I was 27 and he was 28. (And I’m already starting to freak out a little bit because we almost definitely won’t be having kids before I’m 30, and I’ve somehow been imprinted with the idea that my ova will, like, dry up and blow away or something on the stroke of my thirtieth birthday.)

  • I really I want to just sit down with you over coffee and chat.

    Because I love this so much. We were married at 21 and the justifying that decision has become a bit much. But this, this! puts to words exactly how it feels to married to my partner at this stage in life. I might just refer people to this post when they start commenting on my decisions. <3

    Besides, your last paragraph is a perfect reminder as I am sometimes known to wonder about my choices. Brilliant.

    • Well if you’re ever in Bogotá I’ll take you to coffee. :) Please do send this post to people when they start commenting!

  • It’s funny… I got married at 24 and no one has really said much about it… except the make up artist on our wedding day and a friend of a friend that always wanted to date me. But regardless… I couldn’t imagine going through life without him and I certainly don’t think about all those missed opportunities to date other people. In fact… I often complain to my husband that we didn’t find each other earlier!

    And…. I also do recognize that immense potential for disaster that young marriages seem prone to (having recently witnessed two of my friend’s marriages unravel in the most traumatic of fashions). But it’s worth the risk if you find the right person. I want to be shuffling around with my beloved in sixty years!

  • I wish I could love this one thousand times. We’re also 23 – we eloped this summer for insurance reasons and are planning our wedding for June. We’ve been together for over five years and have known since pretty much day one that this was it. My parents were married at 18 (and just celebrated their 24th anniversary yesterday), so 23 never seemed *that* old to me until we started getting snarky comments on our engagement from people we hardly knew and I suddenly found myself having to defend our decisions. :(

  • Hell. Yes. Thank you. I could really leave it at that, but I suppose I’ll elaborate. I was 20 and my husband was 28 when we married. That’s quite young on my part, even here in the South. I wasn’t the first or the only one of my high school class to get married around that age, but I was the only one who wasn’t Mormon, Church of Christ or Baptist, that I’m aware of. I wasn’t pregnant. I wasn’t “waiting for marriage” (though my sister did throughout 4 years of dating, married at 21, and is very happily married 7 years later). No, I’m happily agnostic and it was just right. So we did. Obviously there were many other more practical reasons that went into it, but I’m done justifying my marriage. We’re married and happy as larks.

    The conversation that surrounds the wedding process for us young brides can be especially trying. Every bride deals with unsolicited advice, but I imagine we garner many more bold-faced statements that we’re making a mistake by getting married. I know many of these come from a good place; people are trying to help us learn from their mistakes. From certain people whose opinions you value, you listen with grace and then justify, justify, justify, and hope to convince them a little. With the acquaintances and complete strangers, you have my permission to tell them to f*** off. Or you can give them a canned answer (which may or may not include the phrase, “f*** off”). That might not convince them that you’re mature enough to marry, but you don’t owe that to them. You may owe it to your family and closest friends, but if you’re in the right place to marry, they will already know that.

    • Janelle

      On a somewhat related note… Why do people think it’s ok for them to comment on why I am too young to marry (at 23)? I kind of just want to tell them its none of their business! My choice to get married is based on my ideas, emotions, etc that contributed to the decision, and just because I am young does not mean that I havent thought seriously about what marriage means to me. And I’m not going around telling people they aren’t old enough to do something, or telling people (especially people who I don’t know very well) that they shouldn’t get married (even if I do have a personal opinion for whatever reason), because its none of my business. If their marriage fails, it is NOT MY JOB to tell them why, or predict it, or to judge their original reasons for getting hitched.

  • Pippa

    What a great post!
    I feel you on some level: getting engaged at 20 meant that I was always aware of other people judging me…. but I know how it feels to have that enthusiasm. It’s love, why wait?!
    I have to say (and I know this won’t apply to everyone) but I think those who marry young are the lucky ones because they’ve managed to find their beloved, and grow with them for as long as possible :)

  • Granola

    On a nerdy sidenote, the statistic that “50% of marriages end in divorce” is not quite true and really misleading. I believe that it’s much closer to a third overall. Generally, the number is gotten by taking the number of divorces in a given year and dividing them by the number of marriages in a given year. But for the most part, the people getting divorced did not just get married. I’ve always wished they would count divorce rates by year, so if a couple gets divorced in 2011, but got married in 1999, their split would go against the number of marriages in 1999. Plus then you could look at other historical factors when people got married and see what the natural variation would be.

    So, the takeaway here is that we all have a better chance than we think we do, so don’t let anyone beat you over the head with the cudgel of “half of all marriages fail.” I always cringe when I read that.

    • I really wish there were stats on lengths of marriages, I think that would be a lot more useful. Like a distribution of the number of marriages that last 1 year, 5 years, 10 years, etc before ending (in death or divorce, not just divorce). I don’t know if it would be a bell curve or an inverse one (lots of short ones and lots of long ones – I haven’t taken a ton of statistics so I forget what other distributions are called). Then if you really wanted to use statistics alone to predict things about your marriage you’d say “Well I have a 90% chance of making it 10 years, and a 50% chance of making it 30 years” and so on. Of course I have no idea where someone would get the data to do this…

      • Class of 1980

        There is information out there. Google.

        Divorce rate varies tremendously by socio-economic group. College educated couples have a twenty-something percent divorce rate.

        Historically, there was very little difference in socio-economic groups, but our economy changed and so did the statistics.

        • Julia

          There are also lots of very good, stratified divorce stats in a previous APW book club selection — For Better.

  • I love this so much! I think young marriage is awesome, and, honestly, why do we need to date a whole bunch of people, spread ourselves and our emotions around, just to prove someone is the one. If you know, you know.

    I can honestly say that getting married when I was older was probably very good for me but it also came with a sense of urgency, jadedness, and bitterness as well. That fades over time but it’s still there.

    Young is wonderful! You can build an entire life together! And to be doing what you are doing in your 20s, together, is incredible.

  • On our honeymoon, we ended up on an excursion with a crowd of marriage-therapist grad students. WHOA. They were concerned that we had never lived together (hello, long distance!), but relieved that we were over 25 years old — biologically, our brains had finished developing, and that gave us a better chance of having a lasting marriage… We laughed about that one for months.
    Everybody’s an expert, with statistics to back up their opinions, but there are exceptions to every rule — my parents and in-laws, for example, and thoughtful people like Robin and Co., who found their partner at the right time and didn’t wait to meet someone else’s imaginary timeline.

    • Marina

      That cracks me up. Marriage therapist grad students sound like the worst people possible to run into on your honeymoon!

    • HA! This is awesome! How many of them were married?

      • Precisely zero. Go figure!

  • Moz

    You guys sound so damn cool. Great post!

  • luc

    Ahhh this is awesome! I also get the shocked looks and “wait, what?! How old are you?!” when I mention my husband/wedding because people usually think I’m about 19. I’m 25 now, was 24 when we married. He is two years older. We often just look at each other and say how cool it is that we found each other, that we got it sorted, that one of those major life events/questions is just done! Never have to worry about that again, just enjoy each other, love each other, help each other figure out this crazy life, push each other to better ourselves…. everything Robin said – I’m with her!

    We got lots of questioning/doubting early on cos when we started dating (at 21 and 23) I was leaving the country in 6 weeks. A week after I left, we decided he’d come join me. It took 4 months. So we dated 6 weeks, spent 4 months apart, and he moved in with me on the other side of the world. Been together ever since, couldn’t be happier :)

    A work friend had her 9th wedding anniversary last week and told me how she proposed to him, when they were drunk, when they’d been dating 4 weeks. They have a great marriage.

    Sometimes people just know what they need in their life partner and are lucky enough to find it young. Older age and years of dating do NOT a marriage make :)

  • “I look at him and think, “I am the luckiest person alive to have found him when I did, to have this person to encourage me to become the best me, to share life with, and to figure out the future together.” ”

    No matter what age you are on the wedding day, I’m pretty sure this is the sign of a good marriage.

    • Yes, I’m pretty sure that this post could also be titled “Why Marriage Rocks” – in reference to the wonderful parts about marriage, regardless of how old/young you are when you get married! I sure hope we’re still doing wonderful things together when we’re in our 30s, 50s, 70s, whathaveyou.

  • Alex

    A big, big thank you for this–I’ve been quietly hoping for something like this to come out of APW. We’ll be 23 when we are married next spring, and it can feel really lonely in the circles we most identify with: feminist, progressive, educated, you know. Add to that living in New York City, where marrying young is REALLY out of the ordinary and judgment regarding the subject seems to abound, and it can be easy to forget that there must be others like us, who, like you say, think this:
    “I am the luckiest person alive to have found him when I did, to have this person to encourage me to become the best me, to share life with, and to figure out the future together.”

    And now after reading all of the lovely comments, too, I feel like I just got wrapped in a big community hug. Validation goes a long way.

    • Ruth

      “It can be easy to forget that there must be others like us”

      There are others like you, even ones who live in New York City! We got married at 23 and are now living in NYC. There definitely seems to be an opinion here that it’s strange for people to get married that young. When these comments come my way, I just tell them how much I love being married. It usually stops the comments.

  • Krystin

    Thank you!

    We too just knew. With me at 23 and with him at 28 we’d done the seemingly impossible and found each other. We were married last month and are looking forward to next 60 or so years together barring advances in medical science.

    Emotionally it was tough, explaining ourselves to family and friends, people who we’d believed “knew us” didn’t at all. It took over a month for anyone but our grandparents to understand why we were getting hitched. At the end of that first raw week I stood firm, our wedding was in fact 6 months away. “Our relationship, our timeline, our life. Yes it is uncommon, but we’re old fashioned but non-traditional. Please deal with this on your own time, would you like to discuss the wedding?”

  • Arya

    This post was especially good for me to read, because I am also a young bride (currently 23 years old and going to be married on November 9th.) I haven’t received a lot of criticism for my family about getting married, maybe because I am a bit older than my great-grandmother, grandmother, and mother were when they got married (16, 18, and 21, respectively.) I’m also further along in life, if you will — already moved out for four years, have a full time job, most of the way through school, etc. I haven’t had to justify myself much to others either–not sure if it’s because the groom and I have lived together for so long, or we’ve dated so long, or what.

  • Mattingly

    It’s really refreshing to hear so many smart comments about the benefits of getting married young. I certainly wasn’t planning on getting married at 23, but as has been said before, when the right person is there why wait!? And then when I got pregnant less than a year after we got married… oh man. That’s a whole other subject for people to feel the need to comment on. But I love my man, and I want to have his kids, so why should anyone else care? Besides, he’s a great father, and as I keep telling people, right now we both have the energy to run after kids. lol And my daughter will get that much longer with her grandparents, which recent family losses has driven home to me and my husband is really is important. So three cheers for smart young marriages and families!

  • Can I just say that you two are gorgeous in your photos! Really.

    That’s it. I have nothing thought provoking or substantive to add to this conversation.

  • Michael and I married young as well. We also dated for a very long time as very young people (we met when I was 15 and he was 18). But so much of who he was at that time could have predicted who he is today and why our relationship worked.

    When we met he picked me up in a 1988 Ford Bronco that he had fixed up himself. He took pride in the fact that he had taken a great truck that just needed some extra care and had brought it to working condition. It wasn’t pretty, but it was beautiful. And he’s treated our relationship the same way. No,I wasn’t the best person when I was 15. Hell, I don’t even think I was a full-formed human at that point. But we both saw something in each other that was worth working towards (blue collar work ethic, friends. Applicable in both your professional and personal lives). So that’s what we’ve done over the past 10 years, and it’s what we continue to do even though we are still, conventionally speaking, quite young.

    In other news, Mike’s mom sold that Bronco for $50 one day and he’s still sore about it. Poor guy. I don’t know where that leaves me in the analogy. :)

  • Thank you for this! We were 24 when we got married (for no other reason than we wanted to), and I was shocked by the confusion it seemed to cause for other people. Granted, we live in California where young marriage is uncommon, but everyone we told we were married, even the cashier at the grocery store, felt the need to comment on how young we were. I was mostly amused by it, but my husband eventually started resenting the “aren’t you too young to get married?” questioning because he suspected the subtext of the question was usually something like “don’t you know that young marriages never last?” (which if true, really is offensive).

    I can totally relate to your sentiment that your marriage keeps you accountable and makes you feel like you are part of something bigger than just your own life. For me, this was the major difference between our pre-marriage and post-marriage relationships, and it’s something that kind of snuck up on me, but that I cherish now.

    I also feel very lucky to have found my life partner so early, and to have so many more years to have adventures together. Yes, being married young does rock.

  • thearchaeologist

    Thank you for this post today! I felt like you were telling our story! We too got married at 23 and had been together for 7 years before we got married. I love being married young, I travel a lot for work and am on my own very often. It’s such a comfort to me knowing that I belong to someone and there is someone at home when I get home. It’s hard to explain it…but I love the feeling of belonging to someone (and vice versa)

  • Reading through the comments again, I do think I disagree somewhat on the idea of it being a blessing to find the person you love so young. For me, that was an obstacle. We had to endure a lot of growing up to get where we are now, and I can’t help but think that would have been avoided if we were older. Not that it’s not worth it, but it’s less romantic than modern high-school sweetheart fairy tales would have us believe.

    • Again, I think this comes down to “It depends on the person/people.” For some people it’s a blessing, for some its an obstacle, for most it’s a mixture of the two.

      What has been great about APW, and what gave me the courage to write this post, is that this community shows that you can’t generalize about what is “good” and what is “bad,” especially in regards to relationships. I don’t think any relationship is a fairy tale, even when it includes pretty pictures and seems perfect on the outside.

    • As someone who married their high school sweetheart (at age 28), I do go back and forth on whether meeting him so young was a “blessing”. For a long time, I thought it was an obstacle – I thought I would regret not having more time to be on my own to date around. I wasn’t ready to meet him yet! And who knows, perhaps I still will regret it when I’m older. But I’m finding that as time goes on, and especially since we have been married, I am seeing it more and more as a blessing. I don’t sit around longing for single days that never were like I thought I might, but I do cherish the amazing memories we made together as we stumbled through adolescence and early adulthood together.

    • I didn’t meet my husband in high school, but we did get married in our early 20s after meeting in our late teens. I went through a phase of frustration at our age because I had wanted and planned to marry older; I sometimes wished we had met two or five or tens years later than we did. That desire was influenced by insecurity in response to wanting to appear as independent and capable as possible as a woman, so I had to reconcile ideas of independence with marriage which are culturally/historically incompatible.

      Now, I love that we met each other young. We’ve witnessed and participated in a lot of personal growth, and we are left with a lot of big life questions to answer together, and I have sacrificed zero independence for this relationship.

      • Well this pretty much sums up my opinions on everything. :) Beautifully said.

  • Odd how the “young” line is different for everyone.

    When we got married, I was 26, and my husband 20. There were PLENTY of nay-sayers … but most interestingly, I heard more about how *I* was too young, not him. Which made absolutely no sense to me.

    Since being married we’ve actually gotten MORE of it. I find myself not giving my husband’s age for fear of increasing the “oh, but you’re still BABIES!” commotion people generally hurl at us. Maybe it’s because I LOOK so young, but really, it just feels out of line.

    As has been mentioned many times in the comments, being young doesn’t necessarily mean your marriage is doomed, and waiting until you’re older doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily never divorce. It comes down to the individual partners.

    Thanks for speaking up for all the young partners, Robin!

  • Kathryn in VT

    “I am grateful for having had the sense to marry Jerry and not worry about all the “missed opportunities” of dating other people.”

    This! We’ve spoken before on APW about how the possibility of “but will I regret…?” is such a powerful force in the WIC. It’s so much bigger than that, though.

    One of the things I’m most grateful for in my partner is how much he’s taught me about examining what I want versus what I think I want. I think we’re sometimes fed this cultural narrative — or, at least, I felt this coming from my particular background — that we need to date around! put your career first! have adventures on your own! embrace being single! move to the city! These things are all wonderful, if they are in fact what you want. But meeting my partner at a fairly young age changed what I wanted from life. I wanted him. I wanted our community, our rural life. I wanted to be part of a team. This is one of the hardest things to explain to some friends who are baffled at my decision to marry in my mid-twenties. Identifying what you want, setting aside all of the other “what ifs,” and making that choice can be so, so satisfying.

  • Marina

    Has anyone else found that being married young helped them professionally?

    It’s disturbing to me and I think one of the unspoken societal privileges of marriage, but I honestly think referring to my fiance and then to my husband in job interviews and with my coworkers and supervisors made me seem like a more respectable, dependable person. I think a lot of hiring authorities are worried about hiring people straight out of college or in their early 20s because they think they’ll just want another job in a short amount of time, and being married made me seem more “settled” than a lot of my peers.

    • Lethe

      I actually think it can go the other way as well. I know people who don’t wear their engagement/wedding rings to job interviews because the unspoken reaction to a young engaged woman is often “uh oh, babies.”

    • I think it often depends on the field. As a young, married, female grad student, I’ve definitely encountered professors and fellow students who’ve made it rather clear that they consider me a lesser scholar because of my marital status. And I’m at a school that’s considered quite progressive!

    • FawMo

      I’ve got a friend who is in a interview riiiiiiiiiiight now that told me last night that her engagement ring is her number one interview accessory, “it tells them I’ve got my sh*t together.”

      Go get ’em Rach!

    • ElisabethJoanne

      I’m no expert, but the conventional wisdom in law school was don’t wear your engagement ring to interviews, especially for summer jobs. With those, the firms want to train you for a summer and hire you long-term after graduation. They don’t want a “girl” who will be following her husband’s career around the country. [I graduated in 2008, so the conventional wisdom was developed pre-recession.]

      Statistically, a married man with kids is the best worker, in terms of hours on the job and promotion potential. Statistically, women with kids work fewer hours and are less likely to be promoted. The promotion issue raises lots of chicken-and-egg dilemmas.

      Personally, I’ve found it really hard to talk about being engaged at work. At church, they asked if my getting married meant I was moving away, and while my bosses can’t ask, they can think it. While that’s not the plan, my fiance is in a career transition, a national job search. At ten years older, he has more earning capacity, and we think we want kids, so it makes sense to follow his career, not mine, around the country.

    • Jess

      My husband was out of work for 6 months, and found a job within 3 weeks of our wedding. I think it 100% had to do with his marital status. A young looking 25-year old guy, looking for a career change – that screams “unsettled.” But as soon as he was able to mention his wife, who just happens to be a lawyer, the interviewers started to take him more seriously.

      I do believe it may work the other way around for women, though. Depends on the employer.

      • And the industry. In Oil and Gas, at least in my area, marriage is a good thing. It adds that sense of stability in an unstable job market.

  • Layton

    Well, I’m 25 and single and I’ve been involved with a person who I thought I would spend the rest of my life with. I’ve known people who got married young so that they could have sex (I suspect) and others who just knew it was right. I think about half of all of us who end up married will also end up divorced (though I hope for better).

    But I have always believed… and only continue to grow more convinced as I get older – that the key issue is not age but awareness. That is, awareness of the reality of what marriage is and who you (and your sig other) are and the fact that you will both change. Some people come into this awareness by age 10 and others not until they’re 50.

    Robin and Jerry are exceptionally aware people… so I had no doubts about them. Great post, Munky!

  • Robin!!

    I felt ALL soul-sistery reading this post – we have a whole lot in common. I feel like we did a big virtual high-five, celebrating marriage at any age but especially an age deemed problematically young by many. Your descriptions of “why young marriage rocks” articulated my own experience almost exactly, and I so appreciate seeing that put into words in this community.

    Here’s to many years of many more adventures.

  • liz

    i was married at 23 and thought it was weird how much people talked about how i was “young.” i didn’t feel young. i had finished my education, had a developing career, and a good grip on who i am and what my life goals are and what marriage entails. my now-husband was 28, and we were on the same page- which i like to think speaks more about my maturity than his.

    and i know people who are 32 and getting married and are, in my estimation, way too “young.” just not ready.

    i think getting married “too young” is a real possibility. but i think it has less to do with years and more to do with self-knowledge, experience, maturity.

    • liz

      also, we’re anniversary twins. ;)

      • Happy almost anniversary!
        And right-on about self-awareness/maturity/readiness.

    • Can I ‘exactly!’ this a 1,000 times? Because, yes. I also got married at 23 (two months ago) and won’t have it any other way.

    • “i think getting married “too young” is a real possibility. but i think it has less to do with years and more to do with self-knowledge, experience, maturity.”

      Yes, there’s a pretty vast difference between a 23-year-old who has his or her shit together and one who doesn’t. And shit-togetherness tends to be pretty evident to the observant.

    • charmcityvixen

      I’m 23, my fiance is 10 years older than me… and we both feel equally mature and “ready.” I agree — I think it says more about me than it does about him.

  • Erin

    I’m not a crier. But just cried. Thank you for writing this post.

    I’m 23, not yet married, but I have found him and am patiently awaiting the day he asks me to spend forever with him. I would propose to him tomorrow if it didn’t mean stealing the moment from him that I know he wants.

    We live together and his mother was very upset when we gave her the news (right away, in person, as a sign of respect). She later told me that it was mostly because she felt like she was not ready to have to identify me with her son all the time. Like I changed his identity. She said we should get engaged so she had a year or so to adjust to the idea. For me, this was ludicrous because I thought she shouldn’t feel that way until we’re married (which by the way, is how I still feel) even if we are roommates with benefits (joking). But I respect the fact that she doesn’t have to view it like me. She’s over it now and I’m glad we can actually talk about it.

    ANYWAY, we’ve been together for four years. The feedback I get is a weird balance between “You’ve been together so long you should get married already” and “You’re still only 23. You sure you’re ready to get married?” It’s hard to be tugged in so many directions, but we’ve decided together that we can’t satisfy everyone’s opinion, that we’re refusing to be tugged, and that our wedding day will happen because WE (the TWO of us) want it to happen. Everyone else can learn to love it. Or not. At least they’ll enjoy the cocktails.


    • FawMo

      Erin, our timelines are almost the same (though I’m now 25, and heading into year 6). We’re not engaged but I just wanted to second the tug between “you’ve been together forever!” and “what’s the rush!”. People should just make up their damn minds so I know what to ignore.

      • KEA1

        I’d say ignore all of ’em. %) Actually, I’d say call ’em out on it with your last sentence, because it’s brilliant.

    • Robin actually proposed to me… and I quickly got over it, because, you know, we were getting married! But that’s a whole other story.

  • My husband and I got married when we were just shy of 26, which is early for our geographic area (northeast) and demographic (but, notably, I am among the last of my cohort from my working-class hometown to get married). We’ve been dating since we were 20, and even though I think we made the right decision for us, it’s still a gamble. I still worry that we’re too young, that even the change (and we have changed a lot as individuals and a couple through our early/mid 20s) we’ve endured in our relationship so far hasn’t prepared us for what’s to come. Depending on the day, I’ll tell you that we should have gotten hitched earlier, or waited longer, or that we got married at exactly the right time.

    But I would have worried about longevity even if we waited until we were 40 to get married (I blame my parents, chronic depression and anxiety, and John Irving), because I have seen enough in the relationships around me to know that you can’t anticipate the future, you have to make the best educated guess you can based on the information you have at hand. I love my husband, he is one of the best human beings I have ever had the privilege to know, and I *want* very much to be married to him and to continue to forge a life together. I feel lucky that we’ve known each other since college, that we know where we each come from and can share a vision for our future together. I am also aware of the challenges that can come from being together from a young age, but ultimately we decided those were challenges we were willing to face.

  • I love this about marriage, at any age!

    “It’s a let-myself-be-known-completely vulnerability that gives me the strength to be open to experiences in other parts of my life, as well.”

    To be known so completely and loved beyond imagination is my greatest source of strength.

  • Class of 1980

    First I have to say YAY for North Georgia mountain weddings! It really is beautiful here.

    This is a great post. So many of us are not fit to be married young, but some people really are and shouldn’t let anyone tell them otherwise. We are going to a wedding this month where the bride is almost 22. If I were a betting person, I’d bet she will still be married 50 years from now.

    Besides there is not a 50% divorce rate. I say this all the time. Google it, people.

    I definitely agree that if early marriage is for you, then it’s a blessing to be embraced for lots of reasons.

    • I can’t recommend highly enough the place where we got married. Tumbling Waters. I think Robin added it to the wedding map.

  • I have a knee-jerk and completely hypocritical “Get married older!!” feeling whenever someone is getting married young. It’s knee-jerk because my parents married at 20/21 and divorced when I was in college, which was not a fun experience. It’s hypocritical because my husband and I started dating when I was 16 and he was 17. All the choices we made after high school were made with the goal of getting married in mind. We got engaged & bought a house when I was 23. We didn’t get married until last year when I was 27 for various reasons including me not feeling ready for marriage itself, despite knowing I wanted to marry him. Once I was ready I couldn’t wait, and I can’t see waiting just for the sake of waiting because you’re young. Meeting young is kind of cool because when I’m 32 I’ll have been with him half my life. I really feel bonded to him like family. Of course meeting young isn’t a requirement to have that feeling.

    Now my knee-jerk response is probably going to change into “Get married thoughtfully and after reading lots of APW,” and I’ll be biased against non-APWers instead of youngsters ;)

    • Class of 1980

      EXACTLY! Get married thoughtfully.

      My grandmother (deceased) told me she first set eyes on my grandfather the first day of high school. She said the minute she saw him, she just knew she was going to marry him.

      They were 24 when they married. The Great Depression delayed them a little.

      She evidently knew what she was doing, because to this day, their marriage is still my model of what a marriage should be. And my grandfather is still the measure of what a husband should be.

  • Shannon

    Most of what I wanted to say has already been said by others in the comments… But I just wanted to add a little Thank You for mentioning Brene Brown! Her work is amazing, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in seeing vulnerability as a good thing. My partner and I are currently doing her Connections curriculum together with a small group of people in our community. Learning to deal with our shame together is a really powerful exercise in vulnerability for us, and most definitely making our relationship a lot stronger!

  • Really enjoyed this post!

  • Wow, Robin, you and your husband are similar to myself and my fiance in a lot of ways. We too hope to travel to and live in various countries over the course of our lives, and we’re currently 23 and 24 (I’m the older one). We’ll be 24 and 25 when we marry.

    I can’t say I’ve really experienced any intrusive comments or questions yet, but I do occasionally feel self-conscious telling people we’re engaged because of our ages. Try doing that when you BOTH look really young–I used to worry that people would think we were two 18-year-olds getting married. And then it hit me: even if we WERE both barely 18, our decision to get married still wouldn’t be anyone’s business but our own.

    Anyway, thank you for writing something beautiful that’s invigorated me all over again for my own wonderful marriage to come!


  • Claire

    Wise and powerful post. Thanks for sharing with us!

  • Noemi

    I am so glad to read your enthusiastic post. My husband and I just got married this past year, at the age of 23. I didn’t know I was that young (as in, too young to be married), but there were definitely people in our lives who thought so. On the other hand, there were many people we knew in high school who also married soon after college. One of my parents’ friends even remarked to them that they had hoped their daughter would do the same thing– that is, get married after college, find happiness, and move out of their house.
    We are so happy to be living life together. Thank you for this post!

  • I loved this. Kudos to you! Kudos to vulnerability!

    I really believe that THOUGHTFULNESS is a better predictor of whether a marriage will endure than age. Just so happens that many people in their early 20s or even teens haven’t figured out how to be thoughtful, intentional, vulnerable, calm, okay with the day-in-and-day-out nature that life turns into. Unfortunately it’s easier to quantify age than thoughtfulness in the research, and so we have our current stats.

  • Anicka

    Exactly (almost down to the date – we got married on October 10th)! Thanks for sharing this.

  • Ellie

    Such an insightful post on the joy of marrying a partner who helps you be your boldest, most authentic self. I hope you two always inspire one another to dream big and give each other the support you need to make those dreams come true. So lucky to be your friend :)

  • Wow– It is so cool to read all these accounts of other young couples who said f* it, let’s get hitched, but did so with reason and level heads. It is really nice to hear from such a large pool of thoughtful youngin’s, facing the same sideways glances that we face. Kudos to each one of you!

  • Emily

    YES! I’m engaged now, 23, and he’s 26. We’ll be 24/27 once we’re hitched and AGREE AGREE AGREE with everything. All so true, all so well put.

  • Clair

    After I saw being married “young” as the title, I cracked up when “23” was the young marriage. I love this girl! One huge benefit to getting married young, is that you grow up leaning to be self-less. Instead of living 8 years in your twenties single and selfish.

    I appreciate the young marriage discussion, but the argument (per the comments) that “young” marriage causes divorce, is unsound. 2nd marriages are more likely to send in divorce. If you make divorce an option, that’s your own doing. If divorce isn’t an option in your marriage, you work through problems with the help of God.

    • k

      Um, I would just like to point out that being single does not equate to being selfish.

      • Class of 1980

        I hope not, or else I must be ultra-selfish being single at this age.

    • Class of 1980

      Well, Clair, SOME young married people may grow to be less selfish. But how to explain my father who married at 21 and was/is one of the most selfish people I know?

      By itself, getting married young isn’t a guarantee of anything. If emotional maturity is lacking, then it doesn’t matter what age you are; it won’t work. I’ve never seen any evidence that marriage transforms most people enough that previously selfish people become giving people.

      Statistically, young marriages do fail more often, but I think the point of this post is that people are individuals who mature at different times.

      • Kathryn in VT

        Absolutely. If anything, the reminder I take from this post and these comments is that maturity, and conversely immaturity, have very little to do with someone’s age.

        I also balk at the suggestion that marriage equals, or fosters, selflessness. That word, even, makes me cringe: who wants to be without self? Perhaps we need a Reclaiming Wife post on why being “selfish” can be a healthy thing sometimes. What I appreciate about my own relationship — and the marriages I’ve most admired in my, including my own parents’ and grandparents’ — is that marriage can sometimes provide the space and support for focusing on oneself for a little while.

        • “I also balk at the suggestion that marriage equals, or fosters, selflessness. That word, even, makes me cringe: who wants to be without self? Perhaps we need a Reclaiming Wife post on why being “selfish” can be a healthy thing sometimes.”

          We’ve got one! One of my all-time favorite Reclaiming Wife posts, actually. Here:

  • Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!! I really needed to read this! I am getting married in two years (yup, that’s a long engagement), and I will be 23 then. I feel like I am explaining why I want to get married so young almost every day and I have hardly anyone around me being super excited like I am. It feels good to read about others in the same situation.
    We don’t HAVE to get married, we just WANT to. We have been together for over four years, but most importantly: we know each other so well. We have been through so much crap you wouldn’t believe it, but we never doubted that we are in this together. I was sick for over a year and he cooked dinner for me and helped me get dressed every day, even though we lived in a city that he hated, and he stayed just because of me. He even moved in with my mom and me when she was going through her divorce, and he cared for her even though she was bitter and sad. He has put up with my dysfunctional family better than I have. Now that I am well again and we have our own place, I try to surprise him as often as I can with a good dinner or a huge smile when he comes home. He is the most wonderful person I have ever met, and I can not believe how lucky I am!

  • Sarah S

    I will be getting married (almost exactly a year from now…!) at the age of 23. We have been dating since I was 17 and he was 18 after having been friends in high school, and we knew within 6 months or so that we’d likely end up getting married. I certainly didn’t want it to be the case. I’m pretty analytical, reflective, and honestly I’ve always been mature for my age, so I was not thinking that a relationship at that point in my life would, or SHOULD, lead to marriage.

    But our relationship only got better. I noticed him doing things that I had fantasized that my “ideal husband” (or whatever – I didn’t think of it that way) would do. It grew from “I could see myself marrying someone like him” to “I could see myself marrying him, theoretically” to “if things go on like this we will most likely get married eventually” to “we will get married eventually.” And now, to we will be getting married on October 6, 2012. :)

    We got promise rings and wore them though college (separate schools but within an hour of each other). Now THAT gets you a lot of shit! Mostly because people didn’t get the concept. But the rings weren’t for other people, they were for us, and we simply looked at them as a symbol of our commitment to each other, and an affirmation that we would get married when we were ready. We’ll be using them as our wedding bands and I’m thrilled.

    Another good point about the promise rings was that it eased the people in our lives into the idea of us getting married. And showed that by the time we were officially engaged, we had already waited a few years and discussed and thought things through thoroughly (#alliteration). We haven’t gotten much “oh, but you’re so young!” around our engagement because we already dealt with that earlier on.

  • secret reader

    I think think this is part of a general trend where we as a society “know” there are some things we should leave other people alone about, and then there are other things that are actually just as rude to say, but that for whatever reason we haven’t identified as impolite.

    Sooo, it’s not nice to comment on a stranger’s body if the stranger is overweight. It’s perfectly fine to talk to a stranger about her clothing size or eating habits if she’s thin, right? Wrong.

    It’s not nice to respond to someone’s marriage with, “but why?!” UNLESS you have, like, a super good reason why you’re superior. Also wrong.

  • Krista

    YES! Thank you so much for writing this post! I married this year, at 23, with my husband a year younger even. Add the fact that we pushed up our wedding (life is short; we’d rather be married! and wedding planning was hell), and most close friends/family asked if I was pregnant. Nope, just looove, baby.

    And I recognize that the “honeymoon” phase is well-known for a reason, but seriously? The last five months have been the absolute best of not just our relationship, but my life. Like Robin, I do not regret not dating more people, but wake up each day feeling so incredibly lucky. And I plan to enjoy this phase fully, and not worry about when “reality” sets in. Life is good. I love marriage!

    Thanks Robin!

  • McNeill

    I really appreciate this post–and nice to read through the comments and see so many other young APW-ers on here!! Our situation was actually really similar–married at 22 and 25, moved to Vietnam two weeks after our wedding with no jobs or friends lined up. No, we didn’t need to be married to move halfway around the world together, but for us, it was absolutely the right decision. Yes, we are enjoying being young and adventurous and not having the same responsibilities that we’ll have later in life, but it all means so much more to me because I know that the carefree-ness we’re enjoying right now is grounded in huge dreams for the rest of our lives, and a deep commitment to each other and to those dreams. This is not just a couple of years of post-college world-wandering, but one small part of a commitment we’ve made to each other to live brave lives together.

    And while I would love to think that I would have moved somewhere crazy on my own, I know that I am incredibly lucky to be in a relationship that provides this kind of emotional support and stability. Big dreams seem so much more attainable when you know you have someone awesome in your corner at all times, when you wake up, when you come home, when things are amazing and when they suck. That is an unbelievable gift at any age.

    It’s such a bummer to feel pressure to justify being married so young when we have so much joy to celebrate. Yay for healthy, happy, sane, affirming, loving partnerships of all ages!!

  • alyssa

    This is SUCH a blessing to read! I’m 22, and my fiance is 23. We’re getting married this December (New Year’s Eve!), and while our close friends are overjoyed for us, on more than one occasion I’ve had co-workers, friends, or even customers say to me, “You’re far to young to get married.” Or, “You should at least live together first.” Or, “This is a great time to get married if you want a second marriage, too.”
    It catches you off guard to hear someone who doesn’t know you give their two cents on your choices, especially when it’s the most personal and intimate choice you can make.
    This blog talks a lot about reclaiming “wife.” Thank you for sharing your experience and reclaiming young marriage.

  • Rachel

    In two weeks, I’ll be 23, married for 3 months and still an undergraduate at university (college, for non-Australians :) I’m doing 2 degrees, one of which is law.) It’s especially weird, because at our church, EVERYONE my age is married, but at uni nobody is. I feel totally normal in one social group and extremely odd in the other!

    We were lucky – our families said “finally!” rather than “why?” I think it helped that we had both lived independently and had taken a long time to make our decision carefully. Our friends were also happy for us- being ‘religious’ our relative youth was easier to explain.

    I completely agree with the marriage-peace that frees you to explore other things – I feel so much more grounded now. Mind you, this may have something to do with the fact that I spent the 3 years my husband and I dated continually questioning everything to make sure getting married was the right decision! What can I say, I’m a worrier…

  • RJ

    I would have liked to have married young, but I didn’t have my first boyfriend until I was 24….so that wasn’t ever an option. I’ve only got better at relationships as I’ve got older – broke up with that boyfriend at 31, and wasn’t ready for even trying another relationship for 3 years…. so now I’m 41 I’m kind of ready to get married at last… still waiting for the right man though.

    • Yes, my plan was that by 25 I’d be married with at least one kid. I’m 25 and still unmarried and childless. I met my Ryan with seven months to go to my 25th birthday, so I thought that was sort of funny– even if we’d be utterly positive and crazy and tried to have a kid right away they’d still not arrive by the time I was 25 (unless something went wrong!) so it was sort of like “Relax. Let go of your plans.” Right now, it looks like we won’t get married until we’re 26 (though we’re still hoping tons of money will fall from the sky and we can marry in January. But it doesn’t seem likely. :-P )

  • Katie O

    I love Robin and Jerry’s marriage–even tho I didn’t get to go to the wedding I was struck by the moment they shared right after they were pronounced man and wife. They deliberately walked away from the crowd of friends and family and sat on a swing and were with just each other. To savor their first moments as married to each other. I thought that was so beautiful and really displays their intentionality about everything. Keep it up and come visit me in Kenya soon!

  • Amber

    My parents got married at 23 (mom) and 25 (dad) after being engaged for 3 months and dating for 2 weeks. They’re still going strong despite much turmoil in their lives 36 years later.

    My mom’s parents had to wait until my grandmother turned 18 so they could get married because her parents absolutely would not give their consent (and in fact tried to split my grandparents up for several years after they were married). They’ve passed 60 years together. :)

    It’s been hard for me watching the years slip by with no sign of the right guy for me. Now that I’ve found him, it’s been hard waiting for him to be ready to get married. At 28, I’m certainly not getting the “too young” talk, but I have gotten “he’s how much older than you??” 10 years, for the record. He says I’m always going to be his hot, young chick.

    There’s a part of me that feels jealous of all you ladies who have found your partner so much earlier in life. I’m happy for you, but I wish I could get those 4 years I spent with the last guy back so I could spend them and the year I spent recovering with my fiance.

  • I’m in the south, and young marriage is typical here. In fact, when you said ‘young marriage’ and I saw the couple was 23 I was like “Oh. That’s not particularly young.” When my older sister and her husband got married (they were both 22) my aunt, who lives in California and had gotten married in her thirties, kept going on and on about how young she was and how she wasn’t sure she’d “let” her daughter get married that young. (Of course, my parents had been 23 and 24 when they got married). When I think “young marriage”, I think under 21.

    Statistically, there’s actually no “risk” if you’re over 21. At least according to the statistics I’ve seen. By that I mean, while it shows if you’re 20 or younger when you marry you’re statistically more likely to divorce, if you’re over 21, you’re not more likely to divorce than someone in their thirties. I think it’s just you’re undergoing so many changes in that 18-21 age. I am definitely not the same person I was then!

    I’m 25, and the majority of my friends here in the south are married. Admittedly, most are Christian, but some are not, and I don’t think most would cite “religious conviction” as the reason they’re marrying, but instead that they were sure!

  • I guess this post just proves that when you marry for the right reasons (for you) then age doesn’t really matter.

  • Brittany

    I’ve never commented on an APW post (though have admired every single one, multiple times) but THIS is exactly, exactly what I’ve been trying to say to my parents, his parents, maybe even myself. Even though we’re going to have a long engagement (hi, Meg!) we’ll still both be under 25 when we finally say, “I Do,” and some people have made that feel wrong, like we haven’t yet put in our time or can’t possibly yet know what we’re talking about. This is the best. This site is the best. I’ve in lurrrrve.

  • Carrie

    I just started writing an insanely long, rambly post about age and expectations and other people’s judgments and everything, but I’m clearly still in the process of mentally unpacking all of it, so it doesn’t make a good blog comment.

    The short version: people judged y’all for getting married “too young” because you were 23. People judged us for “waiting too long” to get married because we met at 18/19 and didn’t get married until 27/29. But for both you guys and for me and my husband, we made our choices thoughtfully and honestly, knowing what was right for us at the right time for us.

    I found myself getting defensive at this post and many of the comments, because I kept flashing back to all of our friends getting married when we were all 22-24, and the amount of times people asked “So when is it YOUR turn?” and everyone who’d already gotten married saying “Married life is great, YOU SHOULD TRY IT” and how I felt like a freak or a failure or a loser or some kind of immature bozo for just … not being there yet. I started to feel like I had to defend all over again why we didn’t get married younger, why we “waited so long.”

    But I don’t. That’s not what this is about. This is about you standing up and explaining why what you did was right for you, regardless of people’s assumptions and judgments.

    Which actually means we’re on the same side. We’re in solidarity in this. We both thoughtfully did what was right for us, even when it wasn’t what everyone thought we should do.

    And that is what APW is for.

    (And OMG how is it that this issue can still make me totally crazypants?)

    • Marina

      Can I just say CHEERS to you for how much self-awareness you have??? I really admire you for this comment.

      “We both thoughtfully did what was right for us, even when it wasn’t what everyone thought we should do.

      And that is what APW is for.”


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  • Carolyn

    Like others have said before, this has given me renewed strength that i’m not some silly frivolous girl straight out of college getting married. I am 23 and my Fiance is 24 we will be getting married this June. The comments I have had to deal with from seemingly friends have been appalling. I have even been asked if I was pregnant, because there could be no other practical reason for getting married. Another acquaintance laughed for 30 minutes straight thinking I was joking. It’s frustrating and demoralizing and I often get frustrated because I know I shouldn’t care what anyone else thinks but I DO. At the end of the day though when I call my Fiance (long-distance relationship) I know, I just know from the bottom of my heart that it was the best decision I have ever made and the luckiest day of my life when we crossed paths.

  • Nicole

    It’s so easy to blame age for a failed marriage. Sure, maybe you did get married too young and that’s why things fell apart. But who’s to say that things wouldn’t have turned out exactly the same had you met and married later in life? Just something to think about.

  • helen

    Eglises Downtown Atlanta est le foyer de plusieurs églises qui sont ouverts à tous ceux qui utilisent leurs installations pour les mariages. Peachtree Christian Church sur Peachtree Street a été le site pour les mariages depuis les années 1920. robe cortege Membres ou non-membres peuvent tenir leurs cérémonies chrétiennes dans le sanctuaire de l’église sous la direction d’un ministre de l’église. Druid Hills Baptist Church propose également ses services aux couples qui veulent mariages dans son sanctuaire de robes de mariee grande taille 500 places ou une chapelle de 100 places. Parcs Au printemps et début de l’été, les couples pourraient préférer cérémonies en plein air dans un parc local . A Inman Park, installations mariages sont disponibles à Inman Park United Methodist Church et The Barn Trolley, à la fois sur l’avenue Edgewood. À Piedmont Park, les couples peuvent se marier en vue sur le lac Clara Meer, dans la cour ou sur le granit Plaza. Les structures d’accueil sont également disponibles à proximité du parc. Hôtels Atlanta est rempli de dizaines de grands hôtels où les couples peuvent organiser des cérémonies de mariage et des réceptions. À l’Hôtel Omni at CNN Center, les cérémonies de mariage peuvent accueillir jusqu’à plusieurs centaines d’invités. banquet Hôtel et services de robes de mariee grande taille restauration, en plus de l’hébergement, sont également disponibles pour les célébrations de mariage. L’historique Georgian Terrace Hôtel offre trois choix de salle de bal, hébergement des suites et des services de restauration pouvant accueillir jusqu’à 250 invités. Attraits touristiques En plus d’offrir des divertissements pour les touristes, certaines attractions populaires d’Atlanta sont également disponibles en salles pour les mariages. À l’Aquarium de Géorgie – le plus grand du monde – offre une salle de bal et les petites pièces pour 50 ou jusqu’à 500 invités et des services de restauration par Wolfgang Puck. Juste à l’extérieur du centre-ville, le Musée d’histoire naturelle Fernbank est disponible à la location. L’installation nécessite l’utilisation d’un des six services de restauration. </

  • Josh

    It’s relieving to find so much support amongst various members of the community for the idea of young marriage. My girlfriend and I are both 19 and want to get married sometime in the future (towards the end of college). We’ve dated a little over a year, but some of the various experiences we have had would normally tear couples not invested or prepared for love apart. It’s nice to see that many couples have married young and believe in success, happiness, and the will to survive against the standard society sets that you need to get married later. (It’s also nice to see you have done a fair share of traveling during your marriage, as traveling is important to my girlfriend and I because a life not traveled is a life not lived.)

    I cannot tell if your relationship is rooted in biblical principle, but my girlfriend and I were both raised in the word of God so we want to do things the biblical way. We have been growing a lot through our reading and research together on how to have a happy and successful relationship and marriage, and we’ve found blogging and all the internet resources like this invaluable in our efforts to make ourselves prepared for the journey ahead.

    I would really appreciate any comments or feedback you have on our blog: We look forward to learning from the successes of young married couples and old couples that married young alike, as we want our marriage to be a blessing to not only each other, but the world too!

    Thanks for sharing!


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