On Getting Married Too Young

When you fall in love at 19, people talk. People think that you’re naïve. That you’re too young to understand love and commitment. And if you choose to marry young then you shouldn’t be surprised when it doesn’t work out.

So we waited. We waited until we were 22. And still, people talked. They said, “When you marry young you still have so much growing to do. You’ll change. He’ll change. You might become totally different people.”

After five years of marriage I can say that they were right.

We are different people and Lord knows I’ve changed. Sometimes I feel guilty that this woman who shares your bed now is not the girl you married. It feels like false advertising. As though I promised you one thing and delivered another.

But then, you’re not the boy I married either. And I love you more because of it.

See, love is not one fixed shape. It’s elastic. It stretches like a balloon or a gum bubble or the belly of a woman around the body of her child. Its parameters are set by the beloved.

Maybe marriage starts with “I love who you are now, today, in this moment,” but it is also, “I will love who you become.”

Marriage means our roots are intertwined. No matter which direction you grow, you can only go so far from me. We are hopelessly tangled. And this is a miracle. This is why we say that marriage is holy. Because it requires an act of God.

I will change and you will change and we may grow in different ways that are impossible for us to imagine. But love will grow as we do. Sometimes it will grow easily and naturally. Sometimes it will require work, like a master gardener prunes and weeds and coaxes a sapling. It might be hard, but hard and bad are not the same thing, Love.

After more than eight years of loving I can see that every change in you is a gift to me. I get to discover a new part of you, and the more I know you, the more I love you. It makes me wonder if the people who grow bored with their relationships are simply the people who stop changing.

Yesterday you asked me for something simple and easy to give and I snapped. I sighed. I exaggerated. I may have even stomped my feet. But after a few minutes I came back. I was embarrassed. I apologized.

And you wrapped your arms around me and lifted my feet from the ground, which always makes me feel small even on a fat day. Then you put one hand behind my head and planted the other on the small of my back and pressed me into your body. We swayed back and forth in our little kitchen without any music and I fell in love for the thousandth time.

Note: The photographer for this picture can now be found at http://www.grainandcompass.com

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48 comments

  1. Loved reading this 🙂 . I’m not married (22 years old and counting) but it’s not because I’m to young. Just hasn’t played out that way for me. I’ve always thought though, that getting married young was a pretty sensible thing to do. And I’m guessing that cultural norms being what they are the past few decades people have talked for at least that far back when young couples get hitched, but I don’t know why. They were young too though (hell, some of them still are when they gossip about it and criticize), and I bet had circumstances permitted it, had they known someone worth marrying, most would have done so. Maybe not… maybe the fact that people talk would’ve made a difference to a good number of them, enough to make them hold off. But I’ve always been of the opinion that you go where the heart takes you and while I usually mean that in the sense of dreams, ambitions, creation… I also think it applies to friendships, human connection, and marriage. All of which is just a long winded, round-about way of saying awesome post, good on you for having the kind of marriage a person can believe in.

    One that grows, evolves, and isn’t diminished for it :D.

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    1. Totally! I think in some cases parents or grandparents give all this advice about marrying young is because maybe they felt that they weren’t prepared. But I don’t think the answer is to tell people not to marry young. I think the answer is to help young people have a more complete and accurate understanding of marriage so they are prepared to step into at whatever age the right person comes along. Obviously I don’t think everyone needs to get married young and I know plenty of people don’t even have the option, but I don’t think there’s such a thing as being too young if you’re both adults. There’s definitely such a thing as being too immature, but that can be true at any age. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I sail the same boat and can confirm that the boat rocks.
    I loved what you wrote about marriage being elastic. Indeed that’s what makes a successful marriage. Marry young or old, if you don’t celebrate the change in yourself and your partner, your relationship is doomed.
    Accept change and it will only grow every passing year. 😀

    Loved it.
    -SS

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    1. Haha. Yes, the boat does rock. 🙂 You are so right that accepting change in yourself and your partner is important no matter when you get married. That’s exactly the reason I think that argument for not getting married young is foolish. As you said, there is going to be change and growth no matter when you get married. And if you’ve found the right person and are ready for the responsibility, I think it’s easier to get used to all of that changing and growing together when you’re young than when you’re older and much more comfortable with your way of doing everything. Obviously I’m not saying that everyone should get married young – for plenty of people this isn’t even an option. But if you have the option, it can be pretty awesome.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on my personal thing and commented:
    When I got engaged at the age of 21, one of my aunts had asked me if I was sure as it was my first “serious” relationship. Obviously I’m still sure as we’ve been together for three and a half years and have been engaged to be married for nearly two and a half years. Sometimes, you just know, no matter how old you are.

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  4. This is beautiful Lily – and you understand already at such a young age :). I met my hubby when I was 16 and he was 20, we married when I was 19 and he was 23. We are still together 32 years later and still say and feel “I Love You” every day. Have we changed? Heck Yeah! But we changed and grew together – embracing the change and growth. Were there bad days? Yep! I tell people not only are there bad days, but bad weeks, months and sometimes even bad years, but we stick together because we love each other – and that isn’t always the mushy gushy infatuation, but respect and a choice. Love is an action, not a feeling. We know each other inside and out, good and bad, been through it all, and there is nobody I’d rather share my life with. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Love is an action, not a feeling.” I think this is so important and the cool thing about it is that sometimes it’s an action that LEADS to a feeling. So while most of the time, I genuinely feel very affectionate and loving towards my husband, but on the days that I don’t I can choose to ACT love and often the feelings follow.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I think that’s something that’s largely lost in our society. We tend to have this mentality that if something is difficult, there’s something wrong. We cringe away from anything that doesn’t come easily. But sometimes life and relationships are just hard and that doesn’t mean they aren’t beautiful and worthwhile.

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  5. I have always been a supporter of early marriages. I mean marrying whenever you feel like it’s time, may it be too early or too late. This article finally gave me the “why” behind it. 🙂 I wish you both the very best ❤

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    1. Thank you! I’m really glad you connected with this. I completely agree that it doesn’t matter when you get married in the sense that these things – changing and growing and committing to love your spouse even as they change – will happen no matter when you get married. And I certainly don’t think everyone should get married young. For plenty of people this isn’t even an option. But I also think this whole idea that “marrying young” is inherently foolish or a mistake is silly. There are 19 year olds who are mature enough to make and honor a serious commitment like marriage and 35 year olds who can’t. It’s such an individual thing.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh my, this is beautiful. Perfect. I’ve always been a bit sceptical of marriage, but you make it sound magical. Age shouldn’t matter in a relationship – no matter what sort of relationship. I’m 90% sure my parents would flip if I announced that I was getting married (I’m 21), but they would ultimately be happy for me. The culture in NZ is a bit different to everywhere else. That being said, everything changes over time 🙂 it’s just something that you accept and you grow as well.

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    1. It really can be magical. 🙂 Of course, it takes both people feeling this way and being committed to one another no matter what changes may come, but I think marriage is miraculous and beautiful, even when it’s difficult. And I think you and your spouse will change significantly whether you get married at 19 or 39. Maturity and being fully aware of what a marriage commitment means is much more important than your age. 🙂 And hi down in NZ! We were able to travel there last January and we still say it’s one of the highlights of our entire lives!

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  7. I love this so much. I married young also (21), and I especially connected with what you said about loving who the other person is today and choosing to love who they will become. The nicest part of marrying young is getting to grow up together. I think there’s something to be said for joining your heart to someone while it’s still malleable and getting to shape (and be shaped by) each other. Friends of mine who’ve married later have said how difficult it is to make room in their lives for their spouses. I know young marriage isn’t the right choice for everyone, but for Tim and me, it was perfect.

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    1. I agree. I actually love that we’ve grown up together. And sure, there are really hard things about figuring out how you will pursue two people’s passions and dreams in the same space, but I also think it’s really beautiful to see how God starts to mold those dreams into one cohesive vision for yourselves as a family. Of course I don’t think everyone should get married young and plenty of people don’t even have the option and I would never advise anyone to rush into marriage. I just think your age should never be a barrier if you have the maturity to commit with the full knowledge that you and your spouse are going to change and that you are going to love them anyway.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you for your post. I, too, got married at 21, and now, 26 years later, my 19-year-old is planning her wedding to her boyfriend of 4.5 years. I, actually, didn’t want her to get married so young at first, but when I think back on my own marriage, and now after reading your post, I realize that I was being too much of an overprotective mom. My marriage has had us shares of ups and downs, and still does. It was really hard financially when we started out; we struggled. But it was also fun. We laughed and we cried and we clung to one another. As a mother, I don’t want my daughter to struggle, but the struggle helps you recognize the success, and I don’t want to take that away from her either. Marrying young certainly isn’t for everyone, I wouldn’t advocate for it, but I’m not going to stand in its way, either. Thanks again for the post and the gentle reminder.

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    1. Oh, Kirstin. This is so sweet. My mother also got married very young (she was only 18) and I think she shared some of your feelings when I got engaged at 21. No reservations about my husband or anything like that, but just wanting me to have a full life and not miss out on anything. But now it’s so clear that this man at that specific time in my life was such a beautiful thing. I agree with you that I’d never encourage people to marry young at all costs, but I think the maturity to understand the depth of what you are committing to is key, and if you both have that, then it doesn’t really matter how old you are. Life will be hard and you will change and grow and you will have to actively choose love sometimes, but all of that is true no matter how old you are when you get married. I’m glad this encouraged you and I hope you can look forward to your daughter’s wedding and marriage with a lighter heart. 🙂 Blessings to you both!

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  9. My husband and I were high school sweethearts who married after college when I was 21 and he was 22.We just celebrated our 33rd anniversary.Yes, we have grown and changed, but we have done it together. I would not be the same woman if not for him and he would not be the same man if not for me.I appreciate how you talk about love and agree that it encompasses all the changing shapes of our lives together. I wish you many more years together.

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    1. Thank you so much and thanks for sharing your story! I love hearing from people a bit further down the road from me. It’s so encouraging to hear that it really can work and that it’s not naive of me to believe it! Congratulations on 33 years together and I wish you many more. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I couldn’t have read this at a more appropriate time. I just got married in May and I’m still figuring things out. It’s hard and I have a lot of growing to do (I feel like I’ll never deserve him. 🙂 ) but it is so worth it ! Thanks for sharing!

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  11. Oh, Lily, this is beautiful. And what I needed to read. I was 26 when we got married, and 23 when I fell in love after a few months of dating. But I can see how much we’ve changed since we were 23 — so, so much change! And as I work through past hurts and slowly learn to fully embrace me, sometimes it scares me that I’ll change too much, become to different, become rather “un-Kelsey.”

    I was worrying about it last week and Ian told me that it didn’t matter. He wanted me to grow and change and feel more comfortable with myself, and that he’d be there completely regardless of which path I took. You put this so beautifully: “Maybe marriage starts with ‘I love who you are now, today, in this moment,’ but it is also, ‘I will love who you become.'”

    Like

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