At only eighteen years old, my life was going great: I was finally graduating after a long year of taking advanced classes. But I had another reason to celebrate. My boyfriend and I were newly engaged, and we were finally making plans for our future life together!
We decided to celebrate by going to the restaurant where my best friend. The plan was to surprise her with my ring and for me to ask her to be my maid of honor.
After showing her the ring, my friend took one look at it and asked, “Are you pregnant?”
I was stunned! Of course I wasn’t pregnant, I explained. I simply did not understand why I couldn’t get married young for more romantic reasons. My friend then pointed out that my mother got married around my age, and now my parents were divorced. Did I know what I was getting into?
She had a reason to worry: Teen marriages are more likely to end in divorce, as my mother’s did. Ever honest and forthright, she shared that worry with me as any friend should.
Yet, I did not worry about divorce then, and five years later it is still not in our vocabulary. The difference between my relationship with my husband and my parents’ is that we didn’t rush it.
My parents met and quite literally ran away together. As soon as my mother turned 17, they married. I was conceived soon after. This whirlwind elopement sounds romantic, but they never had time to sit down together and talk things out. What were their goals in life? Were their goals compatible? How would they handle relationship hurdles, how did they plan to guard their marriage?
My husband and I had known each other for years as friends. We then eased into a dating, opening up new lines of communication we did not have before. After five years of friendship and a year of dating, we grew to understand one another and found we had similar ideas about life, love, and family. Marriage was the natural result of the love that blossomed between us, rather than being rushed during the early phase of our relationship.
By no means did we have a perfect relationship then or now; by no means was the rush the only reason my parents divorced. Still, after seeing what happened in my parents’ marriage, I worked to make sure I had the leg up that my parents lacked. This “leg up”—clear and constant dialogue—helped us form the marriage we have today.
I explained all of this to my friend, who listened patiently. Of course I was not as eloquent about it then as I am now! But the point was made and she seemed to have been assured by the explanation. She then gave her congratulations and was excited to be my maid of honor.
We all get married in our own time, young or old. So long as you take the time to be vulnerable about your life plans and ideals about married life, your future marriage will already have a sturdy foundation you can continue to build on.