My good friend Brittany got engaged our junior year of college.
Her boyfriend (now husband) set up the most magical, envy-worthy proposal ever to not grace the social media sphere because they were also an infuriatingly humble couple who wouldn’t dream of drawing attention to themselves in such a way (unlike me, who can’t fathom not tweeting at least two times a day about whatever food I happen to not be resisting).
When Brittany got engaged and then married, I was genuinely happy.
She was my first close friend to get married, so I too got to experience many firsts: first lingerie party, first bachelorette party, first stint as a bridesmaid, etc. But I found myself encountering another first I had only experienced from afar and never within a close friendship, something I struggle with to this day.
All through high school and during college I was a vocal voice against getting married young.
I could not wrap my head around why two people with plenty of young years ahead of them would choose to settle down with each other and life before 25.
Why would anyone do this? What was the rush?
To me, choosing to marry before 25 was settling for a boring way to spend your twenties.
In the little bitter edges of my heart, I saw these people as ignorant. These people were so commanded by love (love, I was always quick to point out, that statistically turned sour for people marrying before 25). All they could see was right before them, and they were missing out on embracing a rich hodgepodge of people and places and jobs and adventures. They only wanted marriage when there was so much more to be had.
I was going to save myself some drama and get married at approximately 27 after I had done my exploring and living and finally settled into my years of adult wisdom (and this was surely going to play out exactly as I imagined).
And then something horrible happened: another under-25 friend got married.
Then another. And still another. And suddenly Facebook was no longer filled with pictures of football games and club activities but instead engagement announcements and photos of people who had barely passed the legal drinking age.
What was happening? Could it be that this many people, my friends, were truly all suffering from the same marital insanity I so blessedly had sort-of-by-choice escaped from? Why was no one being cautious? Why was everyone so hell bent on getting married straight out of college? And furthermore, how did anybody manage to find The One that soon? What were they possibly doing right?
The truth is, I still struggle with people getting married under 25.
The internet is full of people telling other perfectly happy people that they’re not really happy and that in order to be happy they have to start living like them.
“I’m doing it right, take after me,” the internet says. And most of this advice is given without the context of relationship; people are telling people they’ve never met and who’s stories they’ve never heard how they’re doing it all wrong.
I know this is shocking, what with my general charm and deep understanding of the men, but I have in fact managed not to get married before 25 (and if I do end up married within the next five months, sit me down, slap me, and ask me why I let him put a ring on it so soon and why I subjected myself to planning a wedding in this time frame).
If I didn’t actually know anyone under 25 who is married, it would be really easy for me to say, “You guys, I’m doing it right. I didn’t get married before 25. I’m traveling. I’m exploring. I’m living it up. I’m exciting. Ya’ll are boring married people and for that I pity you. I won, go me.”
(Sidenote: People who appear to lead really exciting lives via what you are probably seeing on their social media are more than likely still questioning what they are doing, if they actually love what they are doing, and why everyone else seems to be having an easier time than them.)
But the truth is I am in relationship with people who are married and under 25.
And I know these people are actually really wise people who have the foresight to think through their decisions. They have important pasts that led them to this moment of choosing to marry young. They are going on adventures, moving to exciting places, starting and completing grad school, and working hard to not isolate themselves in Married Land. So far it doesn’t appear they made a bad choice at all. And they certainly are not ignorant or leading boring lives.
If someone were to suggest that the reason I have been bitterly perplexed by young couples is because I am a teeny bit jealous, there may be some truth to that. I think finding “The One” early on would have made things easier, in some ways. However, I also have finally realized I am someone who probably would not have done well getting married before 25.
From the time I turned 20 to where I am now, I have had the opportunity to live a life I don’t think I was ready to yet live alongside another person.
For me, not getting married before 25 was the right choice. But this doesn’t mean it’s the right choice to everyone, and after seeing people I know, love and respect make that choice, I had to be okay with trusting their judgment.
Is it true that to marry at such a young age means choosing a different way to spend your twenties? Yes. And is it also true that some people do in fact marry too young? Yes.
But if I have learned anything about relationships within the last two years, it’s the often hard to swallow truth that every relationship is different. While there may be some truth to struggles of marrying young, I’m discovering that to categorize all young marriage as the wrong type of marriage isn’t fair to my thoughtful, mature and young married friends.
So I will embrace the unmarried circumstances of my early twenties while I continue to know you and your story, and I will gladly buy you lingerie for your bachelorette party and drink too much champagne at your reception, and we can both revel in the beatufiul fact that we’re still so young.
Did you get married young or know someone who did? What would you want people to know about your marriage? What have you learned about yourself or relationships from your young married friends?