I’m a 21-year-old college student in Montana, and I’ve been married for a year and a half as of this month. I consistently get the same reactions whenever someone, especially someone around my age, discovers that I’m a wife: “You’re married?!? At 21?? That’s soo young!! I could never give up so much of my life right now!” While I understand that not everyone needs to, or even should, get married young, I feel that there are quite a few misunderstandings about what it’s like to be a wife at my age. Here are 5 lies that many people believe about marrying young:
Lie #1: Marrying young takes away all of your independence.
It’s true that being married brings change to your life; you’re choosing to weave your life together with another person and that requires a beautiful, and sometimes difficult, selflessness. However, being married does NOT take away everything that makes you YOU. I’ve found that it’s really healthy for my husband and I to do things independently; we both have very different passions, hobbies and activities that we find restful and/or enjoyable. For example, he loves to take the occasional day to go fishing with a few buddies, and could be on the river allll day long. I, on the other hand, could fish happily for a maximum of (maybe) 30 minutes, and would much rather spend an afternoon at a dance class (my husband’s worst nightmare) or catching up with a girlfriend over coffee.
My husband is my best friend and we value taking time to pour into one another and into our marriage; there are even many things we both really enjoy! However, we treasure our individual friendships and hobbies and understand the importance of taking time for ourselves. I believe that when you’re in a healthy marriage, you take the time to intentionally pursue one another, but you also encourage your spouse to continue pursuing things that they love independent of your marriage. Marrying young has given me a new dependence on the person I love most in this world, while also allowing me to maintain my independence in ways that I deeply value.
Lie #2: You have to give up on your dreams when you get married young.
I hear this one a lot. People think that getting married young requires one to give up on everything they’ve ever aspired to be and do. In fact, many don’t think they should get married until they’ve achieved what they want and have “everything in their life under control.” My experience with marriage, however, has shown me that it doesn’t inhibit you, but rather has the potential to encourage your dreams to flourish and grow in beautiful, new ways. Being a wife and walking through life with my best friend has inspired the dreamer in me to come alive even more; my husband’s support and belief in me gives me a greater courage to walk in my gifts and choose boldness. Now, I must point out that it’s important to choose to do life with someone you’re compatible with– someone who’s heart is in alignment with yours in the ways that matter most. Doing so will allow you and your spouse to pray for and pursue your dreams together.
Lie #3: You won’t grow as much as you could if you stayed single.
This one is fairly similar to the lie discussed previously. Many believe that getting married at a young age “ties you down” and holds you back in life. However, the beautiful thing about marriage is that it gives you and your spouse the opportunity to sharpen and encourage one another to grow in areas that may be hard to identify alone; starting young can be a tremendous blessing when you view marriage in this way! When you live with another person long enough, they see every bit of you – every flaw and insecurity and struggle. Acknowledging personal weakness is not something most of us excel at… Luckily, a spouse is someone who sees everything in you, loves you despite your imperfections, and even loves you enough to encourage growth in your blind spot areas of weakness – what a gift!
Lie #4: Marrying young doesn’t empower women.
Attending a very liberal university, I often get the vibe that women see marrying young as an undermining of women empowerment. That, for whatever reason, it is more admirable for a woman to achieve things independently than when she’s chosen to become a wife. I simply do not believe that I have to achieve a career before marriage in order to be a confident and accomplished woman. Whether a woman is single or not does not determine the validity of her success; accomplishing something without a man in one’s life does not prove greater strength and should not earn greater admiration. I believe that a truly confident woman sees worth and potential in herself whether married or not. Women can walk in empowerment no matter their relationship status.
Lie #5: Marrying young takes away some of your fun.
Let me just say this… if you choose your life partner wisely, then your life together will not be dull. Partying, dating around, and hopping from one person to another may be seen as “fun” by some young people, but for others, it’s realized that this is an empty and unfulfilling way to live. Am I saying that you have to be married to have fun? Absolutely not. Am I saying that being single is always unfulfilling and empty? No way! What I am saying, is that the idea that marriage takes away your fun is based on a warped view of what marriage can be. Throughout this past year and a half, my husband and I have laughed until our bellies ached (both at and with each other), we’ve had crazily competitive and hilarious game nights, we’ve gone on lots of small (and some big) adventures together, and we’ve found humor even in the days that seem mundane. It’s incredible to be chosen and loved by another person every day, and it’s a gift to find that special someone early in life – someone who brings more joy into your every day.
I hope that I have been clear in writing this blog. I want to reiterate that I do not believe that every person should get married young; I believe that God’s timing works in all sorts of wonderful ways, and I know that everyone’s story is different. I’m not claiming that mine is better than anyone else’s, or that it’s even the “ideal marriage timeline” that should be sought for by all. My hope, however, is that my words have brought light to the negative perceptions that many have about getting married young, and that they have clarified why I find the opposite to be true. Although marriage brings certain challenges and complexities to my life that many college students don’t face, I’m thankful to be married and I cherish my role as a wife. Marriage can be such a gift, and it is my hope that other young women may see it as so.