So, people think you're too young to get married #Relationship Advice#engagement November 1 | Ariel Meadow Stallings offbeatbride Photo by Whitney Lee Photography I am 19 years old and I've been with my boyfriend for 4 years. We are very much in love and have eventual plans for marriage, but nothing set in stone. An old friend recently commented that we were "too young" to be engaged. I was so offended, and wrote a strongly worded message back, essentially saying I didn't care what she thought, and I found it presumptions that she would pass judgment. Now, I realize I'm a young person, but I never thought that love had an age limit. My question for you is: How can I diffuse future situations where others judge our love to be "too young" for anything serious? I know it'll come up again, and I need to be prepared and not lose my cool. It's true that love has no age limit. That said, if a love is true there's no need to prove it. There's no need to defend it. There's no need to worry about those who might judge you. When you feel strong and confident and comfortable in your relationship, it doesn't matter what other people say. The biggest mistake young brides make is wasting time defending their commitment to others instead of solidifying the decision with themselves and their partner. I will say that I personally spent a huge amount of energy in my early 20s proving myself to others. With age, I learned to stop wasting my time trying to change people's opinions about who I was, and started focusing my energy on my own self-development. I quickly learned that people respected me much more when I was visibly working to improve myself instead of prove myself. When you feel truly solid in yourself, the need to argue your point to others starts to fade away. With relationships, this means you can feel more comfortable letting the relationship and its duration speak for itself. When you dedicate time to debating with people about your relationship, your reaction can be interpreted as immaturity, in essence proving the very point you're trying to defend. You know what shows people you're mature enough to be engaged? Grounded confidence and self-awareness. An openness to acknowledging that you might not know everything. A willingness to admit that yes, you're young but that it doesn't change the fact that the two of you are working to build a lifetime commitment together. In other words: stop arguing with people about how you're too young, and start demonstrating that you're not. Stop arguing with people about how you're too young, and start demonstrating that you're not. When people say you're "too young," just shrug and explain that part of what you like about being committed at this age is that you get to grow up together. Acknowledge your youth, and acknowledge the challenges. Ask them why — remember, these are your friends. They care about you. They may have interesting perspectives. Tell them how excited you are to show that young people can make a lifetime commitment and stick to it. Talk about the books on marriage and commitment that you and your partner are reading together. (Because you ARE doing your commitment homework, right?) Mention the older advisers like family friends, coworkers, or clergy who you've talked to about commitment. (Because you ARE talking to your elders, right?) Explain how excited you are build a financial future together, and how you're both working hard to reach your shared goals. (Because you DO have financial goals you're actively working toward, right?) Related Post When is the right time to get married? In which Ariel explores the question of "if your relationship and emotions are ready for marriage, is it just stubborn to put it off until... Read more This is all to say, rather than spend your time writing "strongly worded messages," put your energy into fortifying your relationship. A strong partnership that lasts for decades is your best defense. Sure, it's not a reply you can send immediately. But again: a love that's true has no need to be proven today. It will be proven tomorrow, and next month, and next year, and decades from now. Get your daily dose of Offbeat AWESOME Reporter Name * Reporter Email * Original text Enter the original text here. Edited text* Enter your suggested copyedit here. Notes You can add a note for the editor here. * Required information. Fix Typo Ariel Meadow Stallings Author of Offbeat Bride: Creative Alternatives for Independent Brides, Ariel acts as the publisher of all the Offbeat Empire websites. She lives, loves, and dances in Seattle, WA. PREVIOUS Monday Montage: hot tattoos, splashes of red and florals NEXT Niamh & Jonathan's rustic victorian fall fest wedding Show/Hide comments [ 147 ] Thanks so much for addressing this. I'm currently 20 and have gotten a few looks when the fact that I'm engaged has come up. The most common comment is "You're not even old enough to drink!" Even though I will be 22 and finished with my BS when I actually get married, everyone still considers that to be VERY young. It's nice to know that some people do approve, if you're doing your homework! 41 agree Reply While we will be 19/21 at our wedding, i couldn't imagine being anywhere else in life. i'm very happily in school and working..he's also going back to school and has a great job. we live comfortably. we're not ultra stressed or confused about where we are in life or where we are going. we're excited about seeing the world -together- and having a great time. day-by-day, that's all i think it takes. It's a spiritual connection and a deep love that will prove to the nay-sayers that you can do it and it's none of their business anyway to tell you how you should party hard and be a drunken idiot through college (that never, ever sounded fun to me.) 21 agree Reply Love this. Thank you again and again for all the level headedness you bring to the wedding world. 🙂 11 agree Reply Muchas gracias, Ariel. As usual, you're absolutely right. 🙂 1 agrees Reply This is great advice! When I hear about people younger than 21 getting married, I do, initially have bad feelings about it only because I remember my boyfriend when I was 16-20 years old – Gack! So wrong for me – it was a young, blind, puppy love thing. BUT, if I was told to do my "relationship and financial homework," back then, I would have realized that I wasn't really for a commitment. If putting the work in doesn't scare the begeezus out of you, maybe you're ready – very sage advice indeed. 44 agree Reply Our plans aren't very concrete, which is why we haven't met with any "too young" comments or negative comments in general. But we (or I, he's 8 years older than I am) are quite young and I just noticed we're not doing anything it says in that post. I have never in my life read any advice-books on anything, much less on commitment or marriage. I don't even know who those elders would be we should be talking with. We're not in any church (he never was in any either), my father's been pretty much single since he divorced my mother while my mother's been in a few unsuccessful relationships and the only friends I've been talking with about relationships are around my age. The only role model I have for a relationship that started at a young age and held until death parted them, is my grandparents. Unfortunately my grandmother is the one who died and I'm not comfortable discussing relationships with my grandfather. We don't dare to plan ahead financially, since we both have very insecure career plans (I'm hoping to stay in my extremely obscure field after studying while he's in such a broad and competitive field that it's hard to say where he'll end up) so all we've been talking about are dreams (not plans). Can you (and this is a general, vague you) recommend any books for young couples? Or have any other advice for me on how to work on our relationship? 9 agree Reply As for books, I'm not sure I'm will be of any help. The one that pops into my head is 'the marriage book' by Nicky and Sila Lee (We have read that and found it pretty useful. We were doing the course as well, it helped us talk through issues that somehow didn't come up easily in normal conversation). It is christian, not really 'in your face', but still, if that bugs you, don't read it. But what I really wanted to say, is that if I were you, I want try to expand your conversations about dreams, making them more or less into plans. Everything will come in good time, so no need to over plan anything, but try to get real. How do you envision life together? We are just (2.5 weeks) married, still graduate students and have no real income. We did however save money from summer jobs / part-time jobs and made a plan how to pay for the wedding and support ourselves the rest of our time as students. We found it really helped to get some numbers on paper, for ourselves, but for our parents too. It helped them to see that we were thinking ahead, had a plan and were overall responsible. They then decided to help us pay for the wedding. Notice the order of events? I think that this is what Ariel means. Not necessarily having everything worked out completely, but that you are working on it and take responsible steps, showing people around you that they can have a grounded trust in you. Good luck on this exciting path of committing yourself to each other! 11 agree Reply it would probably bug me, but thanks for your comment 🙂 2 agree Reply I received a book during my engagement that was really helpful. It's called "The Hard Questions: 100 Essential Questions to Ask Before You Say 'I Do'", by Susan Piver, and it led to some great discussions with my husband about family, finances, home life, sex, and more. The author's perspective resonated with me – she encourages questioning and is open to different types of relationships, as long as you are honest with yourself and each other. I highly recommend picking up a copy (it's really cheap on Amazon) and talking through the questions with your partner over the course of several months. And then revisiting them later. You'll never be done talking through the hard questions! Oh, by the way, I'm 23 and my husband is 24. We didn't get a lot of crap for getting married at this age though – I think people recognize that we've really thought it through and we work well together. 9 agree Reply My parents have both been in multiple unsuccessful long-term relationships, and I have dealt with feeling like I've never really had a good role model. I thought someone had ripped my hear out when my one couple role model announced they were getting a divorce. But I feel way less freaked out now not from reading books but by talking, both intimately and openly with my significant other and with just random strangers (I work retail and often have a lot of time in a female-dominant shop to talk to people). I have discovered a lot of communication helps me know what I want and what my partner wants and where our goals align or differ. I am part of various internet forums about gender and sexuality and feminism, and talking to people from different backgrounds and the more abstract side of things helps me out. And I've even found some people who appear to have role-model-worthy relationships that way. I still have strongly considered counseling before getting hitched officially, though, since we really are young and I really do have a lot of issues I should work through before signing anything. 11 agree Reply People who have experience with unsuccessful relationships may surprise you with their insights into successful ones. Don't discount your parents' input just because they haven't achieved what you're hoping to. 28 agree Reply A great place to start might be couples therapy. If you don't have role models for long term relationships that made it, working with a pro is a *great* idea. She'll make you ask the hard questions and come up with the answers. We did this, and we're on really solid footing, so it's nothing to be ashamed of. Instead it's something to be proud of. And with some research you should be able to find people that will work with you on a sliding scale. That said, parents and family and loved ones are a great resource, no matter how their relationships panned out. Why? They know you really well, not to mention they have lots of life experance. So ask them what they think, and listen to what they have to say. As for the books, girlfriend, the library awaits. There are so many phenomenal books on marriage and on financial planning. If you can't find them on your own, that's why god made reference librarians. But until you've put serious research into researching and reading about marriage and finances (they don't need to be all in order, but you do need to have a rough game plan of what you'd like to do in your lives, and how you're starting to make that happen, even if it's saving $5 a week…), I would argue it's WAY too soon to tie the knot. Those knots are awfully painful and expensive to untie. You owe it to yourselves to do a lot of reading and talking before you tie it. 8 agree Reply I am surrounded by failed marriages (myself included) but the one thing I can say is that after getting out of a failed marriage, I now know what I do and do not want in a future relationship. I have found my footing and can say what is right for me in a relationship and have learned from my mistakes. I will agree to ask those around who have the experience and can offer advice to help. Having that line of communication open between you and your partner is a major key component. If you can't talk about the major issues in a marriage now, it might turn out to be too late once the knot is tied. Too much information was never a bad thing in this case. 9 agree Reply I highly recommend couples therapy. (To everyone, I'm always suggesting it). It is just the coolest thing ever, honestly. You get to talk over your issues with your partner with someone who helps you resolve them. And those issues that keep being a problem? You learn how to communicate them so you can move on to new problems! (Or sometimes, so that you can communicate about them, and the underlying issue such as "I suck at getting my chores done" is still there, but you can talk it through). Basically, I think everyone should try couples counselling. (FWIW, it's expensive, but what we did was go every other week for about two months, and then now we go in if we have an issue we can't work out, or if we feel like it would be beneficial). Also, make a date out of it. Go to counseling, and then have brunch together, or take a walk and keep talking. 4 agree Reply While we had been in a very loving and stable relationship for 2 years, after we got engaged we got a book as a gift and decided to read it. It is a really good read and the exersizes helped us with mostly what we already knew, and a lot of things we didn't! It's a good way to discuss the things to come and how to handle those things. check it out! http://www.amazon.com/Just-Engaged-Prepare-Marriage-before/dp/1598693298/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1288809627&sr=1-3 I also recommend couples therapy. Just a good way to start off a marriage! 2 agree Reply I recommend a book called The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman and Nan Silver. I borrowed the book from a friend before my fiance and I were engaged. It is based on actual scientific studies and helped a lot with expectations and communication. It made a tremendous difference and I highly recommend it! 1 agrees Reply There is a book that my partner and I did called "1001 questions to ask before you get married." The downside is it is written with heterosexual pronouns- however it does not re-enforce gender expectations and is not religious like many other relationship books I saw (as a feminist studies major this was important to me). It takes a long time to go through- but it is well worth it. It leads to lots of important conversations. I'm only 22 now and this summer when I was 21 we eloped (we are planning on having a bigger bash in a couple of years). 2 agree Reply My husband and I were just married last weekend – but we have been together for 7 years. I'm 23 he's 24. Being young and immature when we were first dating, I spent a lot of time defending our relationship. When we both were 21, we got engaged which caused a firestorm of opinions suddenly come to light from some very close loved ones. I respected their opinions, but disagreed and my first instinct was to send back "strongly worded messages" to their hurtful opinions. It was a long hard road with my parents disagreeing with a lot of decisions myself and husband made. But in the end, just before the wedding – my dad (the person whose opinion means the most to me) was riding in the car with me and told me he admired our solidarity in sticking to what we (my husband and I) wanted whether everyone agreed or not. That was the best thing I had heard in a very long time. He said I was stubborn, but sometimes that can be good. Because you can't run around changing your life for everyone's different opinion – no matter how much they mean to you. My DAD told me that. And in the end, EVERYONE was happy for us at our wedding – which is all I wanted. Genuine happiness. Its much more constructive to show rather than angrily tell someone how you feel. 21 agree Reply Thank you SO MUCH for this post. I'm 21, will be 22 when I get married, and people have been just a tad snide when they hear I'm engaged. Or maybe I need to grow a thicker skin? The other day I was out with some classmates. One of them mentioned her birthday is coming up. I said, "So's mine! I'll be 22." She went, "You're 21 and you're engaged?" with this LOOK on her face… but then she went on to talk about her cousin who's 19, married and pregnant and she didn't seem to find THAT weird. Before that, another classmate was complaining about not having enough time to study because of her job. She said, "Having to pay your own bills sucks! You have the right idea getting married right out of university." I'm sure she didn't mean to imply anything by it and just spoke thoughtlessly, but it stung. When people make comments like this, I have to remember that I never hear that sort of thing from my close friends and that my parents love the future Mr. Winterbymorning and consider him part of the family already. 8 agree Reply It's so good to read something other than the constant "Nooooo, you're way too young, you MUST finish college first, you MUST establish a succesful career, you MUST go out and have fun while you're young and most importantly your immature and dumb teenage brain has to fully develope before you can even consider something like a serious relationship!" I'm 19 at the moment and my partner's 8 years older and even though we've been together for nearly 5 years, lived together 1,5 years and won't be marrying until 2012 some people still seem to feel it's their "duty" to tell us how stupid we are when we told them we're engaged, especially since he's my first for pretty much everything. I've spent so much time trying to figure out how to get them to shut up and finally (slowly lol) come to the conclusion it's not worth it. Just like this post says it's so much easier and fun to stick all the energy in our relationship (and a lot better for my bloodpressure too!) and just reaffirming our goals in life. So what if I don't want to go out and "have fun" (what exactly does that mean anyway?) and instead build up my life, career and future with the man I love dearly? I think it's beautiful to see already how we've grown as a couple over the last few years and I can't wait to see how the rest of our time together will look like. Sure, it still stings when people comment on our choice but it's not our problem and we've got full support from our parents and friends and each other and that's all we need. 10 agree Reply Ugh, the "having fun" thing. Last week I declined to go out to a fundraising party with two classmates. One of them said, "So you're already a boring married woman?" I was boring before I got engaged XD 35 agree Reply I love this one too. I've asked the family who say it "Are you saying I should break up and sleep around?" And the way they stutter and try to backtrack is just silly. I always make sure to add "It's okay, I know what you mean, but I was never into partying, single or taken." 28 agree Reply I had someone tell me that I should sleep with men other than my boyfriend before I get married. Seriously. I was so offended that I left the room. 10 agree Reply Exactly that! They imply that you "Go out, get so drunk you can't tell which way is up and sleep with everything, willing or not, that comes by" but when you ask them nothing comes out because ofcourse they didn't suggest you should turn into a drunken slag (even though it is what they meant). I don't like drinking or partying, although I do like spending time with my friends and if that be at the occasional party, fair enough, and I find it very comforting that my fiance has been my only bedpartner. I couldn't just go sleep with anyone, what the hell makes others think I would just sleep with others to "gain some experience" before I get married? They do generally shut up though when I ask them sweetly how many people they gained experience with prior to "jumping into marriage" as they like to put it. 16 agree Reply I'm not a party person, either. And I have crazy high standards, so it's not like I'd be hooking up with guys if I was single! The fact that this guy was telling me I would be in some way defective for only sleeping with one person my whole life really bothered me. Was it the world's worst way to try to get into a girls pants? Did he not see how demeaning that statement was to women? What, we're defined by our sexual acts and abilities? We don't get to CHOOSE how many people is the right number to have sex with for ourselves? For all his talk of being open-minded and modern, he was giving me the creeps. 6 agree And then again, if you've slept with a lot of different people you're a slut. You can't win 😀 But besides that, if someone thinks they have a right to tell someone else they should sleep with more people then who is it really who is immature? 10 agree I remember my favorite "you're missing out" speech. It was one of my neighbor's from my apartment complex who was about to get married. She said the one thing she thought I was missing out on was spring break (completely serious). She was one of those girls you saw making out with random strangers within seconds of each other. I have NEVER been that kind of person, and the idea that she thought that I was missing out on that was laughable. 1 agrees It's not just "having fun" in a sexual way people seem to believe you loose when you're married either. The other day someone told me she couldn't get married yet because she'd miss going to concerts too much. I think some people confuse marriage with a whole host of other life changes/choices and feel like as soon as the ceremony is over you're going to become some crazy-busy, 100% family orientated 30-something, no matter who you were before. I haven't gotten the 'too young' talk but I have gotten a lot of people suggesting that even though we already have our own flat and jobs getting married will suddenly produce a ton of extra bills and responsiblities that will force us to give up everything fun or interesting in our lives. 19 agree Reply I'm so glad this is being addressed! I have been dealing with this same problem for a while. However, in my case I have gotten a lot of flack for being with someone younger than me. My boyfriend proposed to me one day after my 21st birthday and after three years together. His age at the time? 18. He is now 19 and I will be 22 in January. I have had to take so much criticism for being with a younger guy and for getting engaged so young. It has always been very frustrating for me. The thing is, we are in no rush to be married. We got engaged because we know that we want to be together forever, (So cheesy, but true!) but we haven't even set a date and don't plan to for a little while. We both know that we have a lot of growing and maturing to do and we are working on that, which I think is one of the most important parts of a relationship. Thank you for this post and all of your great advice! 11 agree Reply My Father was 19 and my Mother 22 when they were married. That was 40 years ago and they are still going strong. 13 agree Reply Great post, Ariel, thanks! Being 24, and my future husband 25, we still get comments about being too young for our wedding next summer. We are surrounded by extreme career oriented people who see getting married before 30 as a really bad move. But, anyone who makes a comment about it is somebody who doesn't really know us. One of my close friends (that also happens to be very career oriented) was listing off a bunch of people he knew that were getting married within the year, talking about how young they all were (all of them were 23-26). He left me off his list. I said "Hey wait a minute I'm getting married too!" And his response was "Yeah, but I don't consider you two to be too young….you guys are totally legit." So, there you have it. If its true that your relationship rocks, the people who know you best should realize you're "legit," and to heck with all the other nay-sayers. 11 agree Reply I've come across the same thing. Some friends of ours have said we are too young (I am 22, he is 25), but every time they say that, our best friends jump to our defense and say that other people our age might be too immature but that we have "the right stuff". =p I agree with all this–let your relationship speak for itself! I think a lot of nay-sayers are jealous in one way or another. They see you are happy, and young and wonder why it hasn't happened for them or why it took them so much longer than you. 5 agree Reply Either that or they made a concious decision to focus on something else (maybe an education or career, or just being free n' single) and feel pressured to defend their choice by pointing out the negative aspects of all the alternatives. Which is not the best way to go about things, but it's very common. 4 agree Reply I got married at age 20 this past July. Todd was 21. We hadn't graduated from college yet (we will in May) and we didn't even have an apartment (still living in dorms). We were asked, "why don't you get your degrees first?" We got eyebrows raised because we hadn't experienced much of the world and living on our own yet. We basically told people who asked that that maturity had no minimum age. And thank goodness we had a pastor who definitely agreed! When you get asked point blank why you're getting married now and not later, its difficult not to want to get fired up about the issue. I know! Since silence wasn't an answer, my retort was always "Why not? We're financially secure; we're taking the right counseling steps; we've prayed about it; and we love each other. That's all that's required in a loving, committed relationship." Finding our careers isn't an issue for us. We've been working on working that out for awhile. I'll be getting my Masters next December, and he'll go on to seminary school. We'll move to another state, but thank goodness I didn't have any strong opinions on where I wanted to live (I can live practically anywhere and be happy). We got flack. We got over it. And we'll quietly prove the critics wrong in the long term. That's good enough for me. 11 agree Reply thanks for writing this! being 20 when we got engaged (with a fairly short engagement) and getting married before i graduated from college, we faced a LOT of antagonism from my family about how young i was and how we should wait. interestingly, the people who *really* knew both of us, and understood the dynamics of our relationship (not something that out-of-town family is really able to do), were TOTALLY supportive and understood that the time was right. the family stress was the biggest stressor in preparing for our marriage; fortunately, it brought the mister and i together in an allied front, as we took deliberate measures to make sure we were on the same page about life and all the things people prophesied would doom us. (not that we had any problems, other than "being too young.") more than a year after the fact, as it becomes increasingly evident to the naysayers that we actually *did* make a mature and well-thought decision to get married when we did, i've had the pleasure of hearing "you were right" as well as saying "i told you so." =) 3 agree Reply I'm originally from Indiana, and a lot.. a LOT of my friends got married shortly after high school or right out of college. So it doesn't seem strange to me at all. I have a lot of friends who are like "Finally.. dude you're old!" LOL! I'm 33, I'm not dead! But I don't justify my waiting until I was 33 to family or friends. 8 agree Reply Any time someone makes a comment to me about someone they know getting engaged in their 20's and being "too young", I always have to hold my tongue, since I've known girls who got married at 14 or 15 (immigrants from the Middle East) and had kids by 16. 7 agree Reply That kind of multicultural experience always leads to a more open mind, I've found, and is always fun to hear about. 5 agree Reply It is, actually. I love the life I lead, because I'm constantly exposed to people from new cultures. 3 agree Reply Aw heck, my mum is from Portugal and was engaged at 17, married at 19, had her first child just shy of 21. This idea of being "too young" at age 25 is TOTALLY foreign to me! In my family, my older sister is "old" to be unmarried and not engaged at 24. I always thought your young twenties were when you were supposed to get married! 7 agree Reply I got the same from a group of kids in a summer camp in Georgia, USA. Many of them were stunned to hear most the staff were in their early/mid 20's and not married. I'm not sure if it's a cultural thing, an economic status thing or just that kids learn you grow up, get a job and get married and no one mentioned yet that there can be big gaps in between, but it's clear there are a lot of different opinions out there. 5 agree Reply I´m not Middle Eastern (but from a very conservative German Catholic family) and I got married at the age of 17 (he was 24). I got so much flak for it, but three years later and we´re still going strong and preparing to have our "big wedding" this year. I think a lot of people (esp. in North America) have this misconception that marrying young is always restrictive but for me it was the most liberating thing I´ve ever done. Reply To follow up Sighne's question – Can anyone recommend any books for marriage preparation that are not religious (at all)? 6 agree Reply For Better: The Science of a Good Marriage is not only not religious but has a factual foundation, it's not a typical "self-help" book at all. 3 agree Reply Ugg, I hated "for Better". It was just really… I don't know. But I loved John Gottman. Either the 7 principles for making marriage work, or ten lessons to transform your marriage. Reply I'd really strongly recommend Couples: The Truth by Kate Figes. 2 agree Reply I got married for the first time when i was 22 and he was 23. It only lasted for 2 years because it was too young for us to get married — we just weren't ready. I know plenty of other girls who got married at that age or even younger and, almost 10 years later, most of them are still going strong. It's not the age itself, but your maturity and readiness for marriage that matters. 20 agree Reply "I found it presumptions that she would pass judgment." "Because you ARE doing your commitment homework, right? Because you ARE talking to your elders, right? Because you DO have financial goals you're actively working toward, right?" The author of this post may want to word this as strong advice, rather than, oh I don't know, JUDGMENT. 16 agree Reply I felt that *was* worded as strong advice. Someday someone'll invent a way to write a tone of voice on the internets! 23 agree Reply I agree! This is something that everyone should be doing, no matter their age, no matter if they are getting married or not! Our elders, just by virtue of being older, have something to teach us – even if it's what NOT to do! Commitment homework – if you want a commitment at any point, now or in the future, you should do it. Finances – everyone has some financial goals, even if it's to go to Hawaii for their 40th birthday next year (a goal of mine). This is just (strongly worded) VERY good advice! 8 agree Reply I agree. I came here looking for advice on how to respond not more judgment. I felt like I needed to defend myself after reading this article. We should be polite, I agree, but I think we should be able to respond to these assertions. 3 agree Reply Ooh, this was my question! I am so honored 🙂 Thanks so much for your level headed response and all the previous comments with stories. They make me feel much better and I know I will be able to keep my cool when addressing this in future 🙂 2 agree Reply Like others here, I want to thank you for writing this. I am 20 and getting married in less than 2 months and the amount of negativity from other people I have heard is astounding. One person I know actually told me, "You're so young, your marriage is bound to end in divorce." Is that proper to tell anyone, despite their age? It's so rude – I would never tell someone they were going to get a divorce. I have found, like others, that the people who truly know us as a couple know we are making the right decision, it is just hard when other people who you see maybe every day who don't know you necessarily as a couple and don't know how strong you are together and they make these off-handed comments like that. We're ready for it – and we're lucky that at least some people support us. Because it does get frustrating at times and there are times I come home crying because it just – you want people to be happy for you, not nay-sayers – for whatever reason they want to nay-say. 4 agree Reply In my opinion, I do think getting married under the age of 25 is too young. I've found that although maturity may not have an age quota, if you feel a need to tell everyone how mature you are and that you know best, then you probably don't. If you are genuinely offended by my view, and your inner-monologue is saying you'll do what you want, especially if people are against it, that in itself is nowhere near maturity. Marriage doesn't need to be a grand race to the alter! Marriage on love alone does not work. Love is a key ingredient, but it is not everything, and there are so many different kinds of love. Love from your parents, your friends, your lover, even your co-workers. Love for yourself. If you feel the only sort of love out there is the love a 'good man,' and you feel it necessary to grab onto that, even if it means throwing all other love out the window, then you know what you're really thinking with, and it's neither your heart nor your head. I'm not commenting to lecture: a topic like this can turn into a can of worms, but I did feel a need to make a few points. Remember, if you do not have clear goals for yourself in life, you're not doing yourself or anyone else any favors: http://www.mynippon.com/dreamland/marriage-age.htm 23 agree Reply I am not genuinely offended by your view, but I do think those who critique people marrying young need to keep a few things in mind. Being young does not necessarily mean you lack clear goals or are basing your choices on love alone. I'm 22, to be married at 25 to a partner who will be 26 at the time of our wedding. We're both law students and will be fully qualified lawyers by the time of the wedding. This is actually very common in law school; I'd say close to 10% of my classmates are engaged with wedding dates post 3L year. All of us are marrying out of love, but also shared goals for person growth, family, and career. Most of us are between 22 and 26. Young? Yes. Misdirected or trying to prove something? No. In fact, many of us trade books on marriage preparation and take advantage of couple's counseling offered through our university to work out pre-marital issues. I understand you were not trying to lecture, just a friendly reminder that not all under-25s fit in the same box. 32 agree Reply I have to say in defence of those who make the "you're too young" comment… I have been one of those people. And it is more than fair to say that making that comment does not come out of spite or anger, or some desire to proxy-parent, but instead out of love and concern. There is a BIG difference between being 19 and being 21. Is it wrong to be concerned for a friend who has never left her hometown, has no formal education and no plans to face employment, who is getting married before she's 20? I don't think so. I completely sympathise with the frustration young brides feel, and the friend I worried about has a fabulous husband who I love and a beautiful marriage. I'm so thrilled that things are working for them. But I don't think I was (or anyone is) not justified in being concerned for someone they love. 18 agree Reply no, it is not wrong in such a case. But this isn't about young people who've never left their village, never traveled nor care about their education or anything else in their future except for marrying, it is about young people making a commitment. This does not have anything to do with education and career plans or seeing the world. (Example: I've lived in over 6 different places, ranging between small villages to the biggest city of the country, been to 11 countries, one of which is not on the continent I live on, and in one of them for a year, I'm planning to do another exchange or study abroad, yes, I'm studying, have a dream career and will never turn down any chances to pursue it, no matter where I have to go to, and that's something I have discussed with my boyfriend.) 4 agree Reply your point, that everyone who gets married young is different, is the same as my point; that not everyone who criticizes young brides is doing so for the wrong reasons. 8 agree Reply But how is it anyones place to criticize? 6 agree Reply I should re-word it: your point, that everyone who gets married young is different, is the same as my point; that not everyone who voices concern for young brides is doing so for the wrong reasons. You're missing the point — this isn't about waving fingers, it's about the possibility that there may be other people in a young bride's life other than her future spouse, and those people may be concerned for her well being and her future. 10 agree Would you have felt differently about your friend if she was 30 and in the same position? What if she was planning to marry before she was 20 but was working on a degree in another city, spent her summers travelling and working jobs that will help in her career? I understand why you'd be concerned and I think you were right to be concerned in that situation but I also don't think your friends age really had anything to do with it. You're not voicing concern for a young bride, but for someone who may not have fully considered their choice(s) and may be rushing into the first oppertunity that presented itself, which can happen at any age. 7 agree Reply 'Which can happen at any age'. Yes, it can. But I do think it's more common among young(er) people. Between the ages 16-25 (very roughly, dependent on the person), you figure out who you are, who you'd want to be and how you are going to accomplish those goals. It is the time that you discover that there are other options than your parents/community have presented to you and that it is up to you to choose. So while I do think that it is great that people get married at a young age (hey, I'm 24), I totally get why other people sometimes voice concern. I've seen acquaintances getting engaged 6-12 months into their relationship, being 22 or 23. I didn't understand the rush (in my eyes). So I tried to voice that concern in a gentle way and talked about it with friends. (I'm not sure if I succeeded in the gentle part, but my intent was concern, not judgement.) Bottom line, in the end, brides and grooms of any ages should very carefully consider whether and to whom they want to get married. And especially young people should consider whether they are emotionally ready or 'grown up enough'. 6 agree Reply I didn't really recieve any criticism about getting married at 17, the only person that said anything negetive was my mother. Everyone else, family included, just told me that I'd always been mature for my age and that it didn't surprise them at all. We did all the prep work, but the most important things (for us) are good communication, individuality, a few overlapping interests and similar goals. I've been married to my lovely husband (5 year age gap) for just over 5 years now, and you know what? Marriage hasn't been anywhere near as hard as I was expecting. We have two kids, two large dogs and 4 fish, yet life is so much calmer and easier with our own little family than it ever was before we got married. 4 agree Reply Both my fiance and I are 19, and will be 20 when we get married in June. I have faced very little opposition to us getting married at such a "young age." We both have been on the same page about our relationship from the get go and our families see that that we know what we want and we will make the sacrifices needed just as long as we can be with each other. Yeah, we both know it's gonna be hard. Like REAL hard! I come from a family plagued with divorce, but I am determined to break that cycle. We both are excited about learning how to make this commitment work through thick and thin. And heck, no one has ever gotten this marriage thing perfect right from the get go and I sure as heck know we won't be the first! But I am so excited to learn. A few people say "you'll miss out on so many opportunities in college" like studying abroad, etc. But I honestly cannot imagine experiencing something so amazing like traveling to a new country without Jake by my side. I want to share every moment with him. And mostly, I'm tired of falling asleep without him at my side. 8 agree Reply I love the "you'll miss out on so many opportunities in college" argument, particularly the study abroad bit. *eyeroll* I had a friend study abroad in both Amsterdam while engaged and Tokyo while married without her partner. He missed her dearly, but supported her decision and stayed where he was because that was best for his studies. And who says your partner can't study abroad with you? I know most of the programs at my school have multiple seats open in a study abroad program. I've heard of schools making arrangements so that a couple was kept together while abroad. The same friends are now traveling to England because one has been offered an international internship. If you're both passionate about it, why the hell not do it together? 13 agree Reply I agree, having other people pass judgment on your love and devotion to each other is annoying and rude, and I like the advice written. That being said… I was raised in a community where getting married past the age or 22 or 23 was unheard of, preferably somewhere in the 20-21 range. I escaped this insanity, mostly because I came out and a lesbian and was shunned, but regardless… I don't know if this is a function of age or of the community I was raised in, (probably the latter), but even now I raise my eyebrows at people who get married before 35 because I know how miserable my married friends are. They didn't do any preparation work, they didn't think it through, and they let themselves feel rushed. For most of us in the mainstream, there shouldn't be this sense of urgency tied to getting married. I don't know what it is that drives people to get married so young, but whenever I see it happening I flinch! 6 agree Reply You know, it's not always a sense of urgency. At 22 and 24, we felt ready. We were both college graduates, lived on our own, together, and just felt we could take the next step. But, I never felt like I HAD to get married. Quite the opposite actually-I used to frown on anyone marrying before 25, who married before they LIVED!! then decided to do it myself. How's that for a lesson in not judging people. And then I was terrified of people judging me…but I outgrew that when I realized we were growing together, experiencing together, etc. And none of our friends changed the way they looked at us, because we're still the same weirdos we were before the wedding….. Sorry, rambled a bit! Just meant to say it's not a rush for everyone. 10 agree Reply I've just turned 22 and i'm getting married this winter. My fiancÃ©e and I have had this situation come up numerous time, especially wit her parents (the irony being that they got married as young as we are). What do we say? That we know we are young, but that we love each other and have known each other for so many years and that we want to give it our best. And when ever someone mention that it might not work, we acknowledge it by simply saying that break up and divorces are part of life, we sure wouldn't be the first couple not to last the distance, but that we do hope to be together until we are old and wrinkly. If you are sure, if you have known each other for this long, if you are preparing yourself, having the big discussions like money, future goals, family, and you have thought it trough, just go for it and remind yourself, there's always, ALWAYS going to be someone who doesn't approve. Just don't bother. 2 agree Reply I've found another issue with being both a young (21 and 23) couple, plus wanting to have an offbeat wedding. People hear details like having a bridesman, wearing colored stockings under my white dress, having a tapas reception with centerpieces made out of playing cards and lemon meringue pie and so forth and assume that it all means we're children playing dress ups. Whereas if we were in our late 20s I'm guessing people would view it differently. I don't know, I just know not to share my wedding plans with people that don't know us very well. We've been pretty lucky though, apart from my future father in law who greeted the news that we were engaged with 'Heh, good luck with that' and a now ex-friend who spent most of our engagement party saying stuff like 'I'm happy for you guys, really, but you do realize you won't last more than a year right? I mean you're way too young and stuff but anyways, congrats' before hitting on my mum for the rest of the night, most of our friends and family have been nothing but supportive. 4 agree Reply Yep! I´m turning 20 and facing a really weird amount of criticism for wanting to wear Dr Martens under my dress, have streetfood at the reception and write my own vows. My fondness for burgers=immaturity. Makes sense. Reply I hate to admit it, but I'm one of those people who would normally be really skeptical of young marriage. But when I think about it, I don't think I have really good reason to be. I have my own personal experiences, but not much beyond that. And! One of my best friends started dating her husband in the 8th grade. They dated all through high school, were living together at 16 or 17, got married at 19, and they are STILL together today (3 children later). About 20 years together, all told – longer than they ever lived their lives apart. AND! They are happy. So it happens. 🙂 It doesn't always take the wisdom of many years to know when you've met "the one", no matter how much "wise old owls" might like to hem and haw and caution… 5 agree Reply I hear this one now and then, not really from peers and coworkers, but from family. Especially my dad. I'm 23 years old, and to save up I plan to be married shortly after turning 25. To some, that's really young, and I won't argue it; I'm young, and I have the sense to know it. That said, we've been together for 5 years, and when I'm sure of something, I'm sure. I'm sure I want to marry this man. So, fortunately, I don't feel the need to defend my relationship. Unfortunately, my father feels the need to criticize it constantly. After having had the talk about goals and wants and warnings over and over again, I'm starting to think my dad is projecting his failed marriage with my mom onto my future marriage. There's really not much I can do about that but hope it wears off by the time my wedding comes up. My plan is to prove him wrong the way I've done multiple times in the past; not argue the subject, just quietly do exactly what he said I couldn't accomplish, and not brag about it when I've shown him wrong. Seems that's the adult thing to do, and I highly recommend it. As for reading, sorry, but outside of OBB, I have not touched a single marriage book. I'd much rather get my advice from people I know and trust, like my mom or my grandparents. They seem to be brilliant people, and I don't have to pay for impersonal advice this way. I just do NOT like generalized advice books that much. So hopefully I'm being as sensible as I think I am (luckily mom would tell me if I wasn't) and we'll have a happy marriage despite my age. As for dad, he's just going to have to figure his own fears out for a while. 3 agree Reply Agree re:the books. Never touched one. We did pre cana because we got married in the Catholic church, but never did anything else. Of course, we'd already merged bank accounts and had pretty heavy discussions about hopes and dreams and goals, so perhaps that's why I never felt we needed it. Plus, my parents have a great marriage, and I heard the stories why my mom's first one failed an the signs she ignored…… Reply I never laid hands on a marriage book either, but I could see how it could be a starting point for couples who want to have the major discussions before a wedding but aren't sure how to start. I prefer people's real life advice as well but I still love to read books because they give me things to think about and talk about. Reply I have to say that while I agree with the idea that real love doesn't need defending, a couple who is engaged to be married at a young age gets the same treatment as a pregnant woman – both endure the constant advice, horror stories, and congratulatory (and sometimes inadvertently insulting) remarks. Sometimes it's nice to have a canned response to all the attention – something along the lines of, "Thank you, goodbye." My fiance and I have been together almost three years and engaged since I was 18 and he was 20 (we're 20 and 22 now). It has been very frustrating to me that people assume that because we're engaged our wedding must be right around the corner – we're waiting until college is done – and either congratulate us to the point of flustering us or comment on how young we are and how they didn't know who they were when they were our age. I've been sat down several times by well-intentioned family members to hear about their failed marriages and how young I am. This is rather surprising to me, because I have always been more mature than the average adult and rank very high in terms of IQ. That people would imply that they don't trust my judgment, especially when it concerns my own life, is frankly insulting. In most ways, we're more mature than your average married couple – we work hard to be nice to each other and get along, don't hold grudges, do our fair share of work (both around the house and in our relationship), and talk about important things like money and kids. It is frustrating to be judged by someone who doesn't have their shit together and feels like they can pass judgment just because they've been alive longer. It's gotten to the point where I don't introduce my fiance as such anymore. It has certainly cut down on the number of ,"OMG YOU'RE GETTING MARRIED!!" reactions. Maybe it's just because I am shy, but I've found that that's the best way to deal with unwanted judgment and/or advice. To all of you who have put a number on the right age to get married – it's not so cut and dried. There are plenty of people who could maintain a healthy relationship at 15, and plenty who still can't at 50. It's also important to remember that people change over time, and so in many ways the concept of marriage being forever is unrealistic, regardless of the age at which a couple ties the knot. 18 agree Reply Spot on! I, like a couple other posters, am the type to be skeptical. My fiance was married at 20 and I was previously engaged at 18. We were both far to immature and self-centered to maintain healthy relationships at the time. It doesn't mean that others can't have successful relationships at that age, I just think it's less likely. I have a wide age group in my friends. My dear friend who got married at 21 certainly does have more stress in her marriage than those I know who waited until their late twenties and early thirties. I think it takes a set of responsible, self-aware people who understand that they have a lot of growing up to do to make it work at a young age. I have total respect for the young couples who do it and I hope more of them take the time to really sit down and evaluate why they are headed to the altar. At my ripe old age of 25, I'm still getting flack for getting married "so young", so clearly it's all relative 🙂 4 agree Reply Thank you so much for this!! I'll be 20 in a little over a month, and when I was 18 my best friend and I had a serious talk about how we both wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. He's been my boyfriend ever since and I still can't imagine living life without him. We're (roughly) planning on getting married in 2 years (I'll be 21, he'll be 23) and while my parents have actually been the very supportive ones, it's some friends who think I'm "throwing it all away". This post makes me feel better knowing that our mutual plans for the future don't have to make sense to anyone but us. 1 agrees Reply My fiance and I are both young to be getting married – he's 19, I'm 23. We haven't been together a long time (it will be 2years in March — 2 months after we get married). Howeever; we've been through so much together as a couple that we both feel older than our years and even I tend to forget that my fiance is only 19. Amongst other things, we've dealt with his drug issues and issues brought up from his childhood — not easy on his behalf. I have so much respect for him, and I don't think I would have been able to live through half the things he has. We have our own little rented house, and saving to buy in the next 3 -5 years. He's starting his cheffing apprentice next year, while I start my art diploma. There's no subject too sticky for us to talk about — and everything has been. We've both learnt communication is the number one thing — the longer you don't talk about something, the harder it becomes. Funnily enough, when we got engaged, everyone asked if I was pregnant (I am not.) — this seemed so much less shockingto them than just the simple fact of wanting to commit to each other. In our wee area of the world (down south in New Zealand), teen pregnancies are far too common, and just generally accepted, where as marriage is not so much. I find it quite sad that I'm "old fasioned" or a "prude" for wanting to be committed to someone before starting a family. 1 agrees Reply This was a GREAT article for younger brides to read. You should do exactly what Ariel suggests. I ignored all the comments and doubt and just enjoyed having a great relationship. I was 19 when I got married and I have been married 10 years and we've been together 16 years. I think that's the best "I told you so" you can get. It's not going to work for everyone to get married that young but it can and does work for some people. Let time speak for you instead of battling it now and stressing yourself out. 7 agree Reply My younger brother and SIL got married when he was 21 and she was 20. There was alot of shock in the family when they announced their engagement, especially since they were both still in college, and would be after the wedding. However, they were insistent that they knew what they wanted, and now three years later have graduated, found solid jobs (a real accomplishment these days) and are still going strong. If you know what's truly right for you, nothing else should matter. Reply That's the other issue, every couple I know that got engaged/married young has had the 'so you're pregnant then?' 'no, we just know we want to spend the rest of our lives together' 'suuuuuure you do -wink-'. Drives me up the wall. 6 agree Reply That's one of the things my dad says a lot. He says "If you Marry him right now, he's just going to get you pregnant and make you be a housewife then you'll never use your degree." There are so many things wrong with that chain of thought I don't even know where to begin. I could write essays on it. 4 agree Reply I KNOW! Brutal!!! Now, since we've been married 2 1/2 years (and obviously weren't pregnant) the questions are: So WHEN are you having babies? Like the only reason we got married was to procreate. So offensive. 4 agree Reply I will say that when I've known women who married young who were being sensible about it, no one scolded them. If your family seems concerned it might be a sign they are seeing something you don't see. If you're in love there's no rush. The divorce statistics are vastly higher for younger brides. While no one goes into marriage thinking they will be the ones to get divorced, the truth is, the majority of young brides will end up that divorced. I know a lot of young women in their mid 20s who are divorced with children and I think that has to be a horrible situation to be in. I do not think people who act concerned are doing so out of spite. They just want to spare you pain and hardship. If you're in love, you'll still be in love in a few years, so I see no reason the wedding can't wait. 15 agree Reply This would be me. I got married at 20 (ex was 24) and with a damn-it-all-you-can't-tell-me-what-to-do attitude towards everyone who said we were too young. I was still in the mindset that I knew what was best for myself. It's now almost 10 years down the road and I am a divorced mom (although I am now with a guy who I know is the guy I should have just waited for). I have a friend (term used loosely now) who set rules for himself that he needed to be married by 30, with at least one child on the way. When he turned 30, he hit a deep depression because he had not achieved his personal goals. He turned 31 last year and met up with a woman who has a daughter. Despite all the shady signs she showed, and the red flags he saw, he still moved her in after a first date, got engaged 2 weeks later, and are soon to be married. All because it's "close enough to my goal of 30 and I'm not getting any younger" as he says. I guess my point is, no matter what age you decide to get married, if the true maturity level isn't there, then the marriage part of the engagement and wedding won't be either. You'll be left with a huge expensive party and an expensive divorce later. Judgment? Not my intention. My personal experience? Yes. 10 agree Reply this this this this Reply That mentality of "by this age I should be [insert life goal here]" is trouble. I have friends in horrible marriages with houses they can't afford because they felt like there was a deadline to achieve certain things. Yikes! 5 agree Reply This is something I've been struggling with. I never made any concious plans but somewhere along the line I got it into my head that by my late 20's, 30 at the latest I'd have my own house, a car and a good job in my desired career. Which makes me feel like a gigantic failure when I'm 25, living in a rented flat and about to start yet another Xmas temp retail job. But I'm slowly learning that it's ok that my life isn't going as I expected and it's silly to make rules for your future anyway. (I am still working towards a good job though!) Ironically the one thing I didn't plan or assume would happen is getting married, and yet here I am! 3 agree Reply I know what you mean! My boyfriend is 26 and all of his best friends are married, and most already have children. He feels like a failure for not owning a home (but does own a townhouse, a crappy one albeit), not having his degree (but after failing out the first time he went back to school and has raised his GPA from a .31 to a 1.91 in three semesters), not being married (I'm not ready yet), not working on starting a family (but I remind him we're adopting so we can "cheat" and get one the same age as his friends daughters :P), and still being stuck in a crappy college town. I have to remind him that he isn't a failure, and every thing that went "wrong" lead to us meeting. Sometimes you just gotta believe everything happens for a reason, and eventually you'll get to where you *need* to be in your life. 🙂 3 agree It's really not the whole family, just dad. Even my stepmom and grandmother think he's being unreasonable. For starters, we're childfree, haha. Secondly, my fiance saved me and pushed me so many times so that I could get my degree and make myself into something when my family didn't know how to help, that without him I wouldn't have a degree to squander. That's just the tip of the iceburg. What can I do? I try to laugh it off the best I can, then go vent and get an e-hug from mom. 1 agrees Reply Question for everyone: What do you say to STRANGERS who comment on your marriage? I have no problem coming coming up with answers for family and friends, but I don't know what to say to complete strangers (and we've had lots of them say things). I'm 24, my hubby is 26, and we've been married 2 and 1/2 years….we heard comments when we were dating, engaged, and now married! (we look young)…without tearing someones head off…how do you explain that love has no age limit…while still letting the person know that their question is RUDE (just like asking when we're going to have kids-another annoying question! lol). Any advice?? Reply Deal with it like any other socially-inappropriate question that random people ask. If you react strongly, people use that as justification that they are "right" or have fodder to put you down. I've had people I know and people I've only just met question the size of my ring, why I'm getting re-married, why he's getting re-married, where I'm getting married, how old I'll be… everything. My response is usually just a "I'm sorry you feel that way" or "We are getting married for the same reasons you and any other couple weds" and then the conversation ends. I wouldn't ever freak out and tell someone they are being rude, but a short, terse comment in response certainly gets the message across without inflaming the situation. 3 agree Reply I didn't mean to create a full-blown attack, but a simple, subtle way of letting them know their question was inappropriate. Reply My very young bride friend was turned away by the department store she was trying to register at, after the saleslady flat out said "you are way too young to be getting married". Now THAT is rude! 6 agree Reply It might be difficult, but one way of making them realise that their question is rude without being rude yourself might be to pretend it's the first time someone's said that to you, and make them feel uncomfortable having asked it: "Oh! Right… Gosh, what a strange thing for you to ask! Well, we got married when we did because it was the right thing for us, and it's still great." 4 agree Reply Sounds like a plan to me! 🙂 1 agrees Reply I should also add that we haven't had problems with family and close friends saying things because they can see our love and maturity…and we come from two very strong and loving families. It's the people that DON'T know us that cause the problems. Reply I am a young bride, having married this year at 21. I'm not going to argue about whether this is too young, for us it was right and we are happier than ever. However, I do think that occasionally a strong defence of a relationship, or any decision in life, is sometimes necessary. In our case the people who were causing problems were our parents. I know several other young brides who were also put in this position- of having to defend themselves and their relationship and being in a situation from which they could not easily take a step back. Letting the relationship speak for itself may be all very well- but are we meant to cut contact with our families in the meantime? It is possible to defend your choices and relationship, in an adult discussion, and handle other's concerns with maturity and grace. There is a middle ground between saying nothing and an all out argument. Stating your beliefs and commitment, and explaining your decisions to those you love is not a sign of immaturity, and does not mean that you are not also working on building a strong relationship. 6 agree Reply I'm 24, my fiance 25, and we have been together for 7.5 years now and we've been honestly emotionally ready for marriage for about 2 years now. However, we did wait until we were not only emotionally ready, but also financially ready to do so (my fiance cringes at my student loans, let alone borrowing money for our wedding, lol). We're getting married next April and the interesting thing is that not many people have said this to me, but many people have commented about other young couples getting married 'too young' (and some of those 'young couples' are older than us!) When I bring up the point about my engagement and upcoming wedding I get 'You're different. You and Kyle are perfect for each other and really mature.' Personally I don't really see the difference and people have made comments in front of me about 'be single as long as you can!' but I let those comments go because I know I have found the man who I want to spend the rest of eternity with. We know we'll have our up days and down days (we've had plenty in the last 7 years), but we made the decision that we want to have those days together because we grow much more individually when we do. 2 agree Reply I am a 20-year-old, and I've been really surprised at how many friends of the family and other early-20-somethings that I know seem so eager to get married, especially in a day and age when it's more socially acceptable to have a loving, committed, secure and sexually active relationship outside of marriage. I can't help wondering what the reason behind this larger trend might be, and whether or not it's really a good thing. I'm in a loving relationship that I've been in for three years, with someone I've known for 6 years. He my first and only boyfriend, my best friend in the world, someone who, at the moment, I can't imagine myself living without. Sometimes I feel really tempted to go ahead and have that celebration of our love, to commit to each other forever. But I can't help wondering if that desire to secure our relationship is sparked by fear more than anything else. I grew up knowing my parents weren't in love, and most of the adults I knew didn't have marriages I found particularly loving. I thought that if marriage means pretending to love your roommate so that you can more efficiently raise children together it probably wasn't right for me. When I did fall in love, and realized that yes, the feeling does exist, marriage suddenly became a much more appealing idea. Did I warm up to it because it promised the idea of a safe, eternal, unfailing love that I thought was impossible? Are we so desperate to escape the cynical view of modern young people being fiercely independent and having shallow, meaningless relationships that we are trying to pin down the meaningful relationships we do have? Are we more desperate than ever to find "the one" and keep them, because we've been told it can't be done? If those are our motivations on some level, we probably do need to do some thorough questioning of our decision, even if we know we're in love. I'm pretty sure most people don't want to enter into marriage lightly, and maybe criticisms of the choice to get married can be seen as opportunities for self-examination rather than defensiveness, even if your marriage isn't strictly speaking someone else's business. If facing those criticism makes you really examine the strengths and weaknesses of your relationship and allow you to, as Ariel was saying, improve what you have, they can probably be a blessing, no matter how annoying they might be initially. 7 agree Reply As other have said, I think it is important that you know yourself (your strengths and weaknesses, desires and goals, etc.) before committing to another person. Some people know this at 19 and some don't; it's a very personal thing that doesn't necessarily happen at a set age. I am 21 and know who I am and who I want to be, and those are the exact reasons I don't want to be married yet. My boyfriend has been explicitly told if he proposes before I give the OK, I will politely turn down the proposal. Now don't get me wrong, I know I will marry him. But I am not done "fixing" myself (I suffer from major depression and anxiety disorders) and want to be confident that I know how to address my problems properly before I ask him to take on my problems as my husband. That's not to say he doesn't try to take on the brunt of my burdens now, but I know this relationship is dysfunctional as is and needs to be addressed; I just choose to address it while we are "two people" instead of "one couple". *shrugs* At the end of the day, it's about doing what is best for you. And no one but yourself can determine that for you. 5 agree Reply I told my fiance something similar, I was in college and told him if I couldn't tell my student advisor what I wanted to do with my life then I certainly couldn't tell him that I did. I knew he was the one, but I really needed a direction in my life before I drug someone else down a dark path leading to who knows where. When I settled into my field, and realized I had found my path and my future got clearer, I gave him the green light. Of course, I also told him I didn't want to get married until after graduation, but he agreed with me and I am so comfortable with this plan and It was the right thing for us, still years later. I needed to feel stable and committed in my education before telling someone else I was ready to commit to them. I felt like I owed it to him to know where I was going, so we could see if it's where he was also headed. It really is about how you feel (personally and as a couple), not about your age, or other's opinions. Things are so easily fixed as "two people" rather than a legal binding "one couple" and that was security for me leading into that decision. Reply I think that it's about maturity, which isn't necessarily attached to age – i know several 20 year olds who are far more 'immature' than some 18 year olds. I'm talking in terms of commitment and understanding of long term goals and change. I think the key is about accepting change in one another over time – because this is inevitable – and perhaps people's fears for younger married couples are about the rate of change being much faster when you are in your younger years (at least they were for me) prepare yourself for changes in everything you and your partner believe in and think (whether you are young or old) and understand that you will probably not always change at the same rate and you'll be at a good start…. Does that make sense??? 3 agree Reply This really rang true with my situation, also. Im 19, and my fiance and I have been together 4 years. People often will say I'm too young, but I just smile it off, and explain that we are waiting until I finish college to marry. I don't feel the need to defend myself, because we have been through a lot together already, including the death of an immediate family member, and we are happy together, but that doesn't really need justified to anyone else. I am very excited to say that I graduate this spring, and will marry next September. Reply I have to admit… I've said this. But not to the couple's/bride's face. And, yes, I usually said it out of spite or jealousy. I've always been one of those people that knows what they wants and goes after it with all they've got. So the guy I've been with for six and a half years… yeah. Knew I wanted to marry him after year two, maybe sooner. We finally got engaged a week and a half ago and will get married in fall 2012 (we'll be 27). But for forever I was jealous of everyone younger than me who'd been dating someone for a year and had gotten engaged. We have friends who have met, dated, got engaged and married in just the last two years we've been together. For me as time went on it was more a concern that he just didn't want to marry me. That he was content as we were and that was never going to change (even though he always, always said he wanted to marry me). Anyway, I'm no longer so jealous. (I feel like just admitting this makes me a horrible person, but I'm just being honest.) And all the couples I know that have gotten married young, most of them are still doing pretty well. Only one (they were 19/22) got divorced after a year. 2 agree Reply don't feel bad or like a terrible person for saying this..i know exactly how you feel. like your relationship is of less value, like you are less in love, like your efforts toward longevity don't matter because you didn't have a ring or a big show. never feel bad! guaranteed there is someone out there (me!) who feels the same way you do. 2 agree Reply Story of my life! I know exactly how you feel. Reply improve yourself rather than trying to prove yourself. BRILLIANT. 4 agree Reply I am currently in your boat! I come from the dominant culture where getting married at 30 is the only acceptable age. My fiance is from a family culture where they marry at 20. There has been pressure from both sides. We have decided to get married when I am 22 (he'll just be a few months short), after we both graduate with our BS. We have lived together for over a year (also a big conversation starter!). To me, living with another person is a GREAT tell to whether or not you can stay with them forever! This past year of our engagement has been one of the most tumultuous for my relationship with my mother. The worst part of people doubting your relationship is that you begin to doubt yourself. As much as I hate to admit it, you are being given the opportunity to see your relationship through others' eyes. You also have the chance to ask yourself "Am I ready for this?" I feel like I have been fighting a losing battle trying to get my mother to understand my decision and I have cried after every phone conversation too many times. Through all of this, however, my fiance and I have had the difficult conversations about family, beliefs, jobs and money, goals and priorities. These conversations strengthened us and are helping us build our own culture and future together. I have finally come to peace with the differences between my parents and myself. And the biggest difference is that while they are not ready for it, I am grown up. It has been a process, one that did not start when I said "yes" to being engaged. I had to realize my grown-up-ness and handle the conversations as such before I could expect anyone else to recognize it. Don't let getting married be your adolescent rebellion. Make it an affirmation with your partner. Love is sooooo much a part of marriage. But so is commitment. And communication. And cooperation. Make sure these are the things you are basing your marriage on. 4 agree Reply Before my parents were married, my mom's parents sat them down, and told them they were too young and inexperienced. My dad told me he sort of understood and started to agree, except that it made my mom even more determined to be married, and they were. My mom has passed now, but there were together until the end and had four children, all of us now adults. I'm the youngest, and I'm nervous about getting married at 26 (and 28)! My partner and I met at 20 and 22, I have already grown so much with him, I am still growing with him, and I don't want to ever stop growing with him. For me personally, the biggest way I know he's 'the one' (as in, one of many possible ones, but one that is definitely one) is our endurance. I've never made it through the kinds of things we've made it through with anyone else… never gotten to this point of discussing and sharing fiances with anyone else. The absolutely only thing I think that would make me think someone is too 'young' or too 'inexperienced' is if she or he was committing because they were scared of not meeting someone else. And that happens at all ages… 2 agree Reply A while ago someone posted a link to the Commitment Conversation. I totally recommend it to other young people thinking about or in the process of getting hitched! Reply We never got the 'you're too young' speech. Even though we were engaged at 20 and 22, it probably helped that we were engaged for over a year. I do often get the 'he's a lazy bum and we aren't fond' from my family. It's exhausting trying to always play defense (no matter what the reason). I've simply resorted to telling them 'I'm happy with our relationship and this matter has been discussed enough.' Reply Read more comments 1 2 › Join the conversation Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Participate in this conversation via emailGet only replies to your comment, the best of the rest, as well as a daily recap of all comments on this post. No more than a few emails daily, which you can reply to/unsubscribe from directly from your inbox. No-drama comment policy Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy. 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