Monday, April 27, 2009
On Marrying Young
I had a good laugh this weekend reading the Opinions section of the Washington Post, where there were not one, but two articles about the benefits of marrying young.
Partly because their definition of "young," 26, seems kind of middle of the road to me, having been married a good bit younger than that. But whatever.
It's funny to think about getting married so young in one regard-- I know that Ben and I have nieces who, I'm sure, will turn 20 in the blink of an eye (one is already 15), and I'm sure that they will seem ridiculously young to us when they do. Even now, looking back at our wedding pictures, I think, "Wow, we were such babies." And we were. Neither of us had ever lived "in the real world." We were still college students. Ben was the only person I had really seriously dated, and I was the only person he had ever dated. We didn't have real jobs, let alone "careers." So by most modern standards (and certainly, within the community that we grew up in), we were crazy to be getting married. And believe me, there were people who let us know they thought so, not to mention the countless others who, bless their hearts, thought so and didn't say a thing.
I guess the modern wisdom about marriage goes something like this: figure out "who you are" first, when you're in your 20's, before you get into anything too serious relationship-wise. Don't make any major life decisions based on relationships. Establish a successful career first. And we didn't do any of that.
But while I'm not ready to step out and say that I endorse all young marriages, over the years I have found that for us, there were some benefits. It was nice to start out our marriage with absolutely (and I really do mean absolutely) no possessions, and very little money, in a place where material stuff didn't have much meaning or value to us. I think that part of the reason that Ben and I are still committed to simplicity is that we learned to live together happily in simplicity out of necessity. Also, it has been nice to build our lives and careers around our family-- and I think that both of us put our family before our careers because of it. Let's see... what else is there? During our 20s as we are "figuring out who we are," we are also doing so in the context of our relationship, which has meant that we have become more compatible. And then, obviously, there's the fact that getting married young has enabled us to have kids young, which is great not only because it seems like the human body is designed to do it that way, but also because we can enjoy our kids for a lot longer, and will be able to really live it up in retirement (okay, actually, we're planning on living in a yurt or a commune).
But obviously there are so many beautiful marriages that happened later in life, and a lot of reasons that people have loved that arrangement as well. I'm just saying that where in previous generations getting married young was the norm and it was "radical" to get married older, the pendulum has definitely swung the other way. And marrying young can work out just fine.