peer advice, support, inspiration
Josh just recently wrote an excellent article about waiting to get matched/married. While I whole-heartedly agree with 99% of what he wrote, I wanted to share my story as a counter-balance to show that marrying young can work and can also be a wonderful thing.
My husband and I just celebrated our ninth anniversary last month. I was 4 days shy of my 17th birthday the day we got matched by Rev. Moon in Korea. While I would never recommend getting matched at that age, I don’t regret my choice in the slightest. It was the right move for me at that time, and I was really clear about that. No matter what age you are when you get married, it’s important that you feel clear and confident about taking on the challenge and responsibility.
In the US, the average age of first marriage is 27 for women, 29 for men. I obviously got married quite a bit younger than the average. A lot of people, including my parents, cautioned against it (a BFD leader who will go unnamed flat-out rejected my application) and many of my friends thought I was crazy. But for me, it felt right. And I’m so glad I ignored the naysayers and took the leap.
Here are a few reasons why I’m glad I got married early:
1. We grew up together. My husband and I got to experience many life milestones together that most people experience as singles. We went to college at the same time, together signed the lease on our first apartments, bought our first car, cheered each other on through our first job interviews and graduations. We took summer road trips and went to Florida for Spring Break. He taught me to drive. I taught him to cook. I feel so grateful to have those shared memories.
2. We got to date each other for two years. Even though we were blessed, we were living on separate continents. It was so much fun sending love letters, skyping, and traveling. Being young, there was no rush to move in together or be responsible.
3. We got to enjoy many childfree years! I don’t mean this to sound selfish, but it’s been lovely to enjoy coupledom all these years without kids – the ease of travel, the adventures, the flexibility… We’ve also had a lot of time to work on our relationship before adding kids to the mix, which has been huge. Our relationship has grown so much, I can’t even fathom having had kids a few years ago. We could never have had this option to spend so much time child-free if I hadn’t been young when we got married -: biological clocks are ticking, after all. (On a side note, it is SO obnoxious when people question why we haven’t had children even though we’ve been married so long. I’m only 26! That’s the average age women get married. Outside of our church, I have exactly two friends my age who have a child: one is a practicing Christian; the other got knocked up in high school.)
All that being said, I don’t think getting matched young is right for everyone – in fact, I don’t think there is a right time. There’s only our own right time.
This is why I think it worked for us:
1. I was precocious. I can’t say I’m the most mature person ever, but I was definitely mature for a 17 year old – a key factor that enabled me to handle the trials of a committed relationship.
2. Even though I was only seventeen, my husband was almost 21. It would probably have been a fiasco if we were both seventeen.
3. We didn’t get married (as in go-to-the-courthouse, move-in-together, set-up-a-household married) until two and half years later, when I was nineteen and he was twenty-three, a comparatively more “normal” age.
4. We’ve had lots of help and support through the years, from friends and family – giving us advice and guidance and love that have been crucial in helping our relationship grow and withstand the trials of marriage. I guess this is important at any age, but it’s essential for a young couple.
Regardless of your age, marriage is a huge undertaking. It’s wonderful, and fun, and satisfying – but it’s also really damn hard. Only you know when you’re ready.