To Marry Young or Not to Marry Young: Why is This a Question?
April 8, 2013
© Michelle Horton
There’s been unusually loud chatter lately about when, exactly, young women should get married. First Princeton alum Susan Patton suggested that students make husband-finding a priority in college (the M.R.S degree, as she put it), which, after the post went viral, resulted in a firestorm of rebuttals — most including words like “feminism” and “antiquated stereotypes.” And then Julia Shaw addressed a Slate essay to today’s millennial women, saying, “I got married at 23. What are the rest of you waiting for?” Naturally that caused it's own fair share of DON’T GET MARRIED YOUNG responses.
And so the tennis ball bounces from one side of the court to the next, with each party enthusiastically yelling claims over the net: “Marriage will help you grow up!” and “Marriage will stall your personal development!”
Allow me to grab the ball mid-serve and remind you all that there’s no match going on. There’s no right and wrong; there’s no winner. And maybe I can offer a different perspective.
I got married at a young age (gasp, 22!) and I never, ever ever ever, thought that I would. I was totally on Team Wait It Out — believing that if he were good enough to marry at 22, he’d be good enough to marry at 32. Why rush the inevitable with legally binding agreements? What’s the POINT? Clearly the statistics are against young love — so why set yourself up for failure?
You can perhaps guess what changed my mind: a positive pregnancy test. I didn’t only get married because I was pregnant — I’m very lucky to have chosen the right person to unintentionally impregnate me — but we mutually agreed that starting a family was a life-long commitment, regardless of paperwork. We said “I Do” with a pregnancy test between us. The rest was just a formality.
Unconventional, I know, but my sudden thrust into matrimony taught me a lot about marriage that I didn’t understand before. I don’t know everything, but I’ve learned a few things missing from the current marriage debate.
Namely this: Young marriage can feel unintuitive and require steady, conscious, daily nurturing. Any simplification of this (such as with terms like “soul mate”) can be a bit misleading.
Young marriage can also shift your perspective, change how you think and behave, knowing that the long haul is up ahead. It changed me in ways that I never expected.
Young marriage requires blocking out the noisy doubt around you — the doubt of statistics, nameless and famous bloggers, friends and family members.
Young marriage leaves room for personal growth, but it’s not the only route for companionship and love.
Young marriage works for some. It doesn’t work for others. And any attempt to claim you know the “right” way for the general population is misguided and borderline arrogant – and that goes for Susan Patton as much as it does for her haters.
Young marriage is something I’m grateful for every day. And that might be an even bigger surprise than that pregnancy test.
Did you get married at a young age? Do you think that couples should wait to get married? Why? Let me know.