This past weekend we were on a rare kid-free weekend away. We sat to have brunch in a relatively quiet restaurant with not a kid in sight. We people watched and drank hot coffee. While basking in the rare glory, I watched a table of young women (late twenties/early thirties) beside us. They were celebrating a friend's new engagement. They all looked hip and fresh faced. Their nails were neatly polished and they all seemed like they were sleeping for a solid six hours every night. For a moment, I wondered what their lives must be like. They were just getting engaged, many sported bright diamonds on their left hands. Some were talking about promotions and new apartments and considering adopting a puppy but fearful about the responsibility. For a moment, I wondered what I would do if my life looked like theirs. I wondered if I would be happy. Would I have a career? Would I look like I walked out of a J.Crew catalog? Would I spend my money on farmer's market bouquets and bi-monthly blow outs? To be fair, my life will never looked like theirs and I'm happy that it won't.
My husband and I met when we were 15 years old. Spanish class. He was a Sophomore. I was a Junior. It was like something out of a YA novel. Things weren't easy. There were a few rough months of a "break" when I went to college, but we hung tough. We made it through high school, my undergrad years, his years of military service to today.
We had our first date in December 2004 (My age: 16. His age: 15). We got married in July 2008 (Both 19). We had our first son in August 2012 (Both 23). And our second in January 2016 (Both 27).
We are "young" parents. We are "young" married people. Most of our parent friends are ten or fifteen years older than us. When we celebrate our 20 year wedding anniversary, we will only be 39 years old. We were are 32, we will have been dating for more than half our lives.
Here's a note: Marriage is not for everyone. I frequently encourage my friends to take their time. There is no hurry. I have been known to yell "Don't do it!" At passing groups of bachelorette parties. There are valid and valuable relationships beyond heterosexual monogamous marriages. This is just our story and what works for us.
Here are some great things about being married young.
1) We Grew Together
People are growing and changing every day. We did that side-by-side. Those awkward haircuts (him), those years of experimenting with blue eyeshadow (me), the growing pains of learning how to budget or pay bills or grocery shop or cook meatloaf, we've done it all together. We've learned how to draw boundaries and ask for what we need and take care of ourselves together. We've been each other's benchmarks and cheerleaders and teammates.
2) Safe Place to Land
Inevitably, life knocks you on your ass. You bounce a check. You forget to turn off the car lights and kill the battery. You burn the turkey. You get fired. There's car accidents and broken legs and loss of family members and miscarriages and falling on your face. But, we have each other. We are a team, partners in life. When crappy things happen, we can cling to each other, talk it out and make a plan while holding hands. I know that he is in my corner and I am always in his. That safe place to land makes us more likely to take measured risks and we know that, at the end of the day, someone will still love us and cheer for us.
3) My Golden Years Will be So Kickass
When my oldest child is 18, I will be 41. (Right? I don't know. Math is hard.) Doesn't matter. I'll still have plenty of good years ahead of me. We can send our kids into the world and take Caribbean cruises and enjoy the empty nest while we still have the energy to make the most of it. I joke that 35 will be a killer year for me. I'll finally figure out my personal style and I'll be done with having kids so my body will no longer be wrecked by child bearing and breastfeeding. Our kids will be old enough to babysit our friend's kids. When our friends are wiping asses and vetting babysitters, we will be like "Peace losers! We're going to the movies!"
4) There's No Secrets
I don't have to explain to him why I hate Burger King with the fiery passion of a thousand suns. He remembers the time I got food poisoning. He doesn't have to explain his affinity for whiskey because I was there the first time he tried it. We were both there at high school graduations and that amazing pub in San Diego and the first snow in Northern Virginia. We have a long line of shared history. We understand the deeper workings of each others' minds because we were there as they were formed. The scattered history of our family trees, the strained tension or dramas or good times were experienced by the both of us. Much can go unspoken between us. He gets me. I get him.
5) Best Friends Forever
I'm not disillusioned. Life isn't perfect. Relationships are work, but I'm happy to say that we have more fun than work. We genuinely enjoy each other. I confide in him. He leans on me. He knows exactly how to make me laugh and I know exactly how to make his eyes roll. Love is wanting the other person to be happy. We truly want that for each other. At the end of the day, my happiness comes from his and vice versa. I am lucky to have him and I hope he is lucky to have me.
Nothing is perfect. I have seen a lot of things recently that discourage young people from entering long term relationships so I wanted to show the other side of it.