Wide eyes. Dropped jaws. Fake smiles. I get them almost every day now, or at least when I tell people I’m engaged. So, I may as well address the elephant in the room: Yes, world, I am 20 years old, and I am engaged to be married.
While you’re still recovering from the fact that I can’t even legally drink alcohol yet, I would like to take some time to explain why marriage is a formative institution, not an institution for when you think you’re fully formed.
Let’s begin with some statistics. Believe it or not, those of us who get married young know, and I mean know the statistics! We have to in order to defend ourselves. In 2013, the National Marriage Project (NMP) reported that the highest percentage of young adults (ages 20–28) who said they were the happiest were those who are married over those who are single or cohabitating. In another NMP study, the highest quality of marriage is in the couples who marry between the ages 22 and 25, at 52%. This is 35% and 29%, respectively, of those who are married over the age of 30 and those who are on their second marriage. And for the record no… I’m not pregnant!
This is not to say people who are single or couples who marry at older ages are doomed to be unhappy or have poor-quality marriages, but, simply to say that, even at a young age, we are ready to unite ourselves in marriage.
Our decision to get married has come after hours of conversation and days of reflecting and praying during this season of our life. With this being said, this is a very real choice. “Real” is sort of a funny word to describe this. How could it be pretend? In hopes of responding to those who think we are merely “playing” marriage: We understand the value of a dollar and in fact are already paying for some of our own bills together. Our parents will not support us financially after we wed, as we are adults (but they are graciously throwing us a wonderful wedding!), and are taking this decision very seriously.
This brings me to my next point: love is not determined by age or money. Of course as two recent college grads, when we get married we won’t have a ton of money. We know this and are carefully saving and budgeting for the expenses of the post-college world – one that a lot of our single college friends aren’t considering.
“But, there must be something to be gained by waiting.” That’s one I get a lot. I always ask what those things are, but no one can give me an answer! I, however, can give an answer of what we will gain by not waiting. We will gain each other, and all the flaws that come along with us. But that’s okay because we get to grow together. In order to grow, we will go through “growing pains”; we have and will fight, as all couples do, but we are flexible. We won’t have the opportunity to live apart and become accustomed to a certain lifestyle, but we will have the opportunity to accomplish milestones together.
Because we don’t see marriage as a part of life’s great checklist, it is easy for us to embrace this new season as an adventure to go through with our very best friend.
It would be untruthful of me to write an entire post on marriage and not mention the awesome addition that comes with marriage: sex. I could go on and on about the benefits of waiting to have sex until you’re married, but I don’t want to belabor you with something I know my sisters in Christ have already covered. For me, getting married means I will get to have a sleepover with my best friend every night of the week. “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine; he browses among the lilies.” These words written in Song of Songs (6:3) may not mean anything to you, but they mean the world to us (I also have lilies tattooed on my leg). I’ll be honest: I’m so excited to begin our sex life with marriage, and I’m so thankful we aren’t waiting any longer!. ‘Okay’, my dad chimes in, ‘enough of the sexy talk.’
Our parents requested that we wait until we graduate college to tie the knot. In turn, we are waiting a whole seven days. (Yippee!) Both of our parents support us and are thrilled to be part of such an exciting time in our lives. There was no pressure to get married. It was not a rash choice. We are not afraid, and we are not settling.
I suppose I forgot to mention that my fiancé is in the Army! But, that is not why we are getting married. Our love is not the end. Our love is the flame to our awesome romance and will become the cornerstone to our marriage.
I do not expect this post to change your mind or your life – just to simply inform you of where I and others like me are coming from.
And be encouraged, Beloveds: God does all things in His timing, and His timing is perfect.
There is nine months until our wedding. I invite you (and perhaps even challenge you?) to follow me on this adventure I am beginning with my husband to be. Watch us learn. Watch us grow. Watch us love.