At 22 years old, I knew I was going to marry my husband. I'd had an inkling when we first started dating, but about a year in, on a drive from San Diego to Los Angeles, we planned the whole thing out: when we were going to get engaged, married, buy a house, have kids, what the kids' names would be. Everything. One thing I didn't plan on, though? Experiencing all the things women who get married young are so tired of hearing within, like, a month of marriage. I wasn't old, but the damn comments got old real fast.
Declaring oneself a "young bride," I find, has a lot to do with perspective and location. Nationally, the average age of a first-time bride is approximately 27 years old. In Arkansas, however and where the average age is 24.8 (which is exactly how old I was when I got married), I would have fit right in. New York City, where I lived at the time, the average age of a first-time bride is 31. So when I'd go out with the rest of my 20-something friends with a ring on my finger, I was basically treated as a sideshow curiosity as strangers tried to figure out what my deal was, because I couldn't possibly have just wanted to get married so young.
Except, that's pretty much exactly how it went down. There was no social pressure (if anything, the opposite), no extenuating circumstances, no overwhelming legal protection required. We were just a couple of crazy kids in love. Now that we've been married almost 10 years and have two kids, the subject doesn't come up as often as it did back in the day. Still, every now and then I'll come across a few Nosy Nellies who are completely baffled that an unassuming mom would ever have chosen to get married "ahead of schedule."
Um. Well, because? I just don't understand why this is something I have to explain (or, in some cases, justify). If you can understand the general reasons people get married (including, but not limited to, love and legal benefits), then this is something you should be able to figure out on your own without making me feel awkward.
"Didn't You Want To Have A Life, Though?"
*pats self vigorously in a panic*
Oh my God, am I dead?! Have I been Sixth Sense'd this whole time? Are you the only person who can see me?
Guys. Marriage isn't the end of your life, social or otherwise. It's not even the end of an social life outside of your partner. I'm married with two children and I still regularly hang out with my friends. The logistics are very simple, honestly. On top of that, I also have a great life with my husband and family. It's a pretty nice life, actually.
"You Must Be Religious..."
Not in the slightest, actually. Appeasing God's alleged desire that everyone be married in order to enjoy sex was nowhere on our collective radar and informed neither our desire nor decision to get hitched.
"You Sold Yourself Short By Not Playing The Field"
Ugh. So much to unpack here. This statement assumes so many things that one really shouldn't. For example:
1) That people didn't play the field;
2) That the couple is choosing to be monogamous;
3) That the couple is sexual in the first place;
4) That they should be interested in having multiple sex partners, whether or not they actually are.
If you aren't intimately aware of one's sex life and/or sexual preferences (and you probably aren't if you're saying this), then just keep this to yourself. You do you. We're not judging! Just let us do our own thing.
Your Long-Winded, Condescending Treatise Against Marriage
There are a million and five totally valid reasons a person wouldn't want to get married. I encourage everyone who feels moved by any of them to abstain from marriage all together. My husband and I, however, did not feel moved by any of those arguments. In fact, we were swayed by the million and five totally valid reasons to get married. The fact that I got married young isn't necessarily an indication that all of these pros and cons were not carefully weighed or that I was somehow tricked by the Patriarchy to blindly buy into marriage.
"I Would Never Get Married Until [Insert Random Age Here]"
OK. Cool. Good for you. Do you think this is a really clever sleuth judgment? It' not. It's pretty obviously just plain old judgment.
"Why Rush Into This?"
Getting married young doesn't mean you rushed. I know people who married young who dated for years, many of whom dated longer than a lot of couples I know who got married in their 30s or 40s. In fact, I don't think young-bride me rushed by any litmus: my dude and I were together for over three years before we said "I do."
"Did Your Family Pressure You?"
Nope. I was, in fact, able to make this decision freely and on my own. Because I may have been young, but I was still an adult.
Do we all recognize this is obnoxious and rude? Like, if you bought a new car, I wouldn't start ticking off statistics regarding fatal crashes. I'd say "Congratulations! That's a fine new car you have there! May it bring you many years of happiness."
Everyone is aware divorce is a thing. Though, I feel compelled to point out, it's a thing for everyone, including people who get married later in life. There are hundreds of data points that can contribute to one's likelihood of getting divorced. Age at the time of your marriage is but one. Let us worry about that. You just be happy for us.
"Were You Pregnant?"/"Did You Have Baby Fever?"
In my personal case, considering I didn't have our first child until we'd been married almost four years: no, no I was neither with child nor with the desire for a child right away.
But you know if I had been I could have had a baby without getting married. (It's true! If you didn't know this your priest lied to you. It happens to the best of us. Curse you, Father Pascrelli!)
Lamentations About Your Own Love Life
I'm not begrudging you your disappoints and fears, but please, please don't use my story as a basis of comparison for how you should feel about yourself. It's so uncomfortable and awkward and it's not even something that makes a hell of a lot of sense since I'm me and you're you and we're just two crazy people out in this crazy world doing out own crazy things. Let's just leave it at that, OK?