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?)
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.