Rebecca Lemke is a 19 year old work from home wife, mother and mommy blogger. She blogs at newcrunchymom.com and is a contributor as a 2015 Best Performance of the Year nominee at thepublicblogger.com.
I was told not to do it; get married young that is. The reasons varied, but they all went something like this…”You need to get your degree, pay off your vehicle and live on your own before you get married.”
Were these people well-meaning?
Did I listen?
Did I listen?
But I still got married at 18 years old.
Here is what I learned:
1. Some people won’t be happy, no matter what you do.
I was nearly finished with an Associate’s degree when I got married, had lived on my own, and had paid my vehicle off in one payment. I had done everything that was asked of me. I had checked every one of their “requirements” off of the list. That didn’t appease the masses though, because it wasn’t about the accomplishments.
It was about the maturity level associated with the age that people usually accomplish these tasks. While it is true there is a correlation between age and maturity level, there is no causation. There is no checklist that will make you ready for marriage, no matter what age you are.
2. The challenges are unique and support is essential.
When you get married young, you face different challenges than you would if you got married in your mid-twenties. There is often less support because there are fewer people in the same situation as you. There is also a social stigma attached to your relationship that isn’t there for people who get married at the “appropriate” age.
I was blessed with a small, but dedicated support system that included family, friends, and young marriage supporter and college professor, Mark Regnerus. These people gave us encouragement and advice both for the present and for the future.
3. “Finding yourself” happens together.
A lot of people told me I needed to “grow up” before I got married. They said I needed to find myself before I committed to loving and dedicating my life to another person. They believed it wasn’t possible to “find yourself” while married.
It’s not impossible, it is just different. You don’t need to be single to find yourself, but in order to find yourself when you are married young, you need to be assertive and mature in your ability to communicate.
4. Boundaries are important.
In order to form your own unique personality and “find yourself” when you get married young, you need boundaries. Boundaries are the cornerstone of a healthy relationship.
The power to voice your concerns and set limits is important for any marriage, but I feel like it is especially important when you are young and more prone to being influenced. It’s not enough to know that you can say “No.” to your spouse, it’s believing that it is okay and even healthy sometimes.
5. Other people do not have the authority to invalidate my marriage.
My age does not invalidate my marriage or my ability to consent. I cannot count the number of people who have tried to tell me this. I’ve heard it all, including remarks about how it should be illegal for me to have made the decision to marry so young.
Ultimately, the opinion of others has no influence on my marriage, they do not have the power to effect it unless they are given it by my husband and I. The only opinion we are concerned with is God’s.
6. Young marriage isn’t for everyone.
Leading up to the wedding, and shortly after, I received a lot of criticism for the choice I was making. I was told the statistics of how often any marriage, let alone a young one, fails.
Marriage is a serious undertaking, and it isn’t for everyone. The same holds true for when you get married. But for me, getting married young was the right decision.
What do you think is the best way to support a young married couple?