When my husband and I married last year, we were both 23 years old. While we did not think of ourselves as particularly young for marriage, we have consistently encountered people who have thought it their place to tell us that we were indeed too young to get married. Twenty years ago, 23 would have seemed a much more reasonable age for marriage, but men and women in the western world have been putting off marriage until later in life for a variety of reasons, some of them the result of societal changes, some of them due to personal and lifestyle choices. The most recent statistics that I could find put the average age for first marriage in the United States at 26 for women and 28 for men.
Please don’t assume where this post is going. I am not writing to advocate for or against marrying at any particular age. My husband and I chose to get married when we did as much for practical reasons as we did for love, and many people delay marriage for similar reasons. We started dating shortly after my twenty-first birthday and he moved out of state to start graduate school only four months later. We were able to maintain a healthy long distance relationship, yet it was still emotionally (and financially) draining to be apart. We knew early on that our relationship was headed toward marriage, so it just made sense for us to get married as soon as I graduated from college and was free to move away.
I feel blessed that I met my husband at a relatively young age and that we were able to marry and start our family not longer after. Most of my friends are still waiting to meet their significant others, but their lives are certainly not wasted in the meantime - they have rewarding careers, they travel to exotic lands, they are immersed in academia. And when they do get married, it will be the right time for them to do so. But, and here is where I get to my intended purpose with this post, when they marry, they will have a different newlywed experience than I did.
Marrying in your late twenties is much different than marrying in your early twenties. Of course, every marriage is different because each spouse is different, each person brings their own unique background of cultural, ethnic, familial (etc., etc.) experiences that shape the marriage. But our age also dictates much of what we bring to marriage, including just how many of these unique experiences we have to draw from. No doubt, the economic and career situations which we bring with us into marriage tend to be somewhat dictated by age as well.
I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about how being (relatively) young has affected me as a wife and will (soon!) affect me as a mother. So, in the next couple weeks, I’m going to be writing some posts on both the blessing and the hardships of marrying and starting a family at a time that is considered young by our societal standards. This isn’t meant to convince anyone to marry or have children young or to wait until later, but simply to tell about my experiences and to encourage other young wives and mothers that may be experiencing similar situations.
I welcome input from any women out there, regardless of what age you married or had children (or whether you have at all), because I can only draw on my own experience and my outside perspective of the people around me. I am curious to hear more about the blessings and hardships of becoming a bride and mother at all ages (or if you think age made much of a difference at all) and the blessings and hardships of not marrying or having children (whether you are still waiting or have chosen not to).
Please check out the other posts (including some great guest posts) in my On Marrying Young series.