Monday, April 9, 2012

On Marrying Young: Less is More than Enough

So far in the On Marrying Young series, I've seen a few common themes: dealing with the disapproval of others, relying on faith, and getting by with less.  Caitlin talks specifically about how marrying young has brought to light the difference between "needs" and "wants" and has made her more appreciative what she does have.  Marriage is full of blessings and sometimes the greatest blessings are those of want and not of abundance.

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We have had our fair share of comments from strangers about getting married way too young.  In fact, when we were on our honeymoon we stopped in Phoenix one night between flights, and the workers at the hotel gave us some snide comments about getting married too young and didn’t even congratulate us!
Our Wedding – July 2011
We did indeed get married pretty young by today’s standards.  My husband and I started dating our junior year of high school, and we started thinking about marriage around the beginning of college.  We went to the same college and got engaged after dating for four years when we were 20 and 21.  We got married a year later on July 30th, right after graduating. We have transitioned to a new city where I am attending graduate school and my husband has a full-time job at a newspaper. We are paying for my grad school tuition so money can be tight at times.  I certainly don’t want to say we’re “poor” because that minimizes the situations of people who are truly struggling, but with school tuition and saving for a second car we are really trying to stick tight to a budget and be careful about spending money.  

It has been an interesting transition because both of us come from middle class families, and throughout most of our lives we haven’t had to think too much about wants versus needs.  Throughout our first 8 months of marriage we have learned so much about things we might have once thought were important and necessary are not, and we have found so much joy through living a simpler lifestyle. Many people think there are certain things that you must have before getting married, but marrying young has shown us that it is truly not the case.

Senior year H.S prom – May 2007      
 Our engagement – May 2010
                           




















Who needs cute, matching furniture?  (Or any furniture at all…) Some people think you should have a fully furnished place before you get married.  I had always imagined a picture perfect apartment with everything coordinating well, but we have since learned that it just doesn’t matter.  When we first got married our living room consisted of a futon mattress pushed halfway against our wall with my tiny TV from college across from it.  And oh boy do I cherish so many memories from the first few months of our marriage in that living room.  That’s where we had dinner picnics on the floor, had movie marathons until the late hours of the night, and played many, many rounds of Scrabble and Rummikub.  One of my favorite memories early on in our marriage was a night when the power went out from a huge storm, and we lit candles and sat on the floor in our living room playing board games as we laughed about the situation.


 Game night during the storm
Then there’s our kitchen table.  It’s a 23 year old table that was my parent’s very first kitchen table. It’s the table that my sister, brother, and I did our homework at in the dining room when we were kids, and there are only two chairs left from the set of seven. At first I was embarrassed by having it, and I told my husband many times at the beginning of our marriage that I couldn’t wait to buy a new table as soon as we could.  However, I have now come to appreciate that table and think about all the joys associated with it. That’s the table where we’ve eaten so many meals together, many that I made him out of love, and some that we had fun cooking together on the weekends.  That’s the table where we eat, pray, talk about our day and our dreams of the future, and laugh like crazy.  That’s the table we have friends and family sit around to share in meals and good conversation.  We have gradually come to the realization that the memories we are making through our time together are better than any piece of furniture we could possibly have in our apartment.

Along with that, who needs a washer and dryer in their apartment?  Really though, who needs those in their apartment when you can carry your piles of laundry up and down three flights of stairs together (okay, that part is not so fun), dump it all out on the bed, crank up the music, and have a folding and dancing party every weekend? 

Who needs cable or fancy dinner dates?  We decided to not get cable because it is expensive, and that decision has been such a blessing in our marriage.  We spend so much time with one another in the evenings, and we are constantly trying to think of new, creative date nights.  At Christmas time we bought a cheap gingerbread house (with a 50% off coupon at the craft store, of course) and spent a night decorating it, listening to Christmas music, and drinking hot cocoa.  We also try to plan dinner dates at home because we would have to pay for food for groceries for dinner anyways.  One night we got dressed up for a fondue dinner date at home, and after we ate we lit candles and put on music and danced in the kitchen.  Now that it’s warmer out, we’ve been able to spend a lot of time together playing outside, taking walks, and enjoying nature.  There’s really nothing sweeter than a simple picnic at the park (although I am a little biased because that was our first date and we also got engaged on a picnic at the park). 

Who needs “life experience” before getting married?  At first, my in-laws were not very happy when my husband told them when we wanted to get married. They strongly believed that we needed “life experience” before getting married and that my husband should be working and I should get through grad school.  (They became supportive and excited shortly after we committed to the wedding date).  Nevertheless, there are many people who think there are certain things that you must learn how to do on your own before getting married, but we have found that it wasn’t the case for us.  We really do think it is okay not to know how to do things like taxes or setting budgets before you get married.  Yes, it can be stressful figuring those things out, but one of the joys of marrying young is that you learn how to do those things together.  We have been able to create one joint way of doing everything as opposed to bringing together two completely different, established styles.

Both of us had three big life transitions occurring at once: graduating college, getting married, and starting work/graduate school.  There have been times when we were extremely stressed, but it has been so awesome to come home to a supportive spouse every single night, and to have someone there who’s constantly willing to listen to your struggles and help you with anything you need.  I can’t imagine not having him there every day because he has really helped me to keep things in perspective when I get stressed out about school, and I know I am able to do the same for him about work.

What we do need is God and each other. After all, “what profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” – Mark 8:36.  Living a simpler life has helped us to further trust God and to make sure that He is the number one priority in our lives, which has helped us to grow spiritually and has brought us closer together in our marriage. It’s so exciting for us to think about how we will be building a life together and to wonder how it will grow and change throughout the years.  Wherever life ends up taking us, we want to make sure we glorify God in all that we do and that we have gratitude for all the blessings from Him, no matter how small.

Note the picture of Jesus on the wall between us – hopefully He’ll always be at the center! :)
However, I am not trying to say that there are not any frustrations that come along with getting married young.  Every marriage takes hard work and the constant effort to put your spouse’s needs before your own. It’s also not to say that it’s better to get married young than at any other age.  We have loved our experience of being married young so far, and we have tried our best to make the most out of the beginning months of our marriage.  Marrying young has worked wonderfully for us, but God has a different plan and different timing for everyone.  The Sacrament of Matrimony is such a huge blessing, and we haven’t regretted our decision for one second. As long as we have each other and put God first, our married life will be always be full of love, joy, and probably lots of laughter. 

Engagement photo – Fall 2010

Caitlin is a Catholic newlywed and first year graduate student living with her husband Thomas. She blogs at Catholic Cookie Jar about faith, food, and both the exciting and insignificant events of her everyday life that she wants to remember. 

Please check out the other posts (including some great guest posts) in my On Marrying Young series.



11 comments:

  1. Thank you so much sharing your beautiful story. About the furniture. . . Our 'entertainment center' is constructed out of plywood and cinder blocks. It was the one thing I could not wait to get rid of once we got married. . . Almost five years and two babies later, it's still here and I couldn't be happier with it. Funny how perspectives change :).

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  2. You make really good points! There are so many things that society says we "need" and we can be just as happy, and often times MORE happy, without them. I also love your point about life experience. I always prided myself on not going from my parents' house to house with a husband, and gaining life experience. But now I have to back pedal because I realize just how stuck in my own ways I got, and now that I'm trying to include my fiance, it has caused a lot of friction that we've had to work through (because he also lived on his own for a while, and our styles were completely different!). Your engagement and wedding photos are gorgeous! 

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  3. Catholic Cookie JarApril 10, 2012 at 12:04 PM

    That's really sweet, I love it! I am definitely grateful for my change in perspective. 

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  4. Catholic Cookie JarApril 10, 2012 at 12:05 PM

    Thanks so much Stacy! I definitely think that less can make you so much more appreciative of all the blessings you really do have.  

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  5. I love this post Caitlin! I think it's important to realize that you don't need *Everything* right when getting married, and I wish my parents would have seen that when we were picking our date. I would so much rather spend my first year working and living on my own with my fiance than by myself! And your pictures are absolutely gorgeous :D Thanks for sharing your story!

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  6. Learning things together is one of the best parts of marrying young. It's been a true blessing to watch my husband on his journey from student to career man, from boyfriend to husband to father. I'm so happy to see other young couples live out their values proudly! Many blessings to you both.

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  7. I love this! Thank you for sharing your journey! I have some friends who also got married young (and who really love Rummikub, as well) and they have taught me so much about what it takes to make a marriage work. Reading your post, I was reminded of them. It is so encouraging to see a young couple seeking the Lord's will, and seeking to truly love and serve each other as He desires. You have a lot to teach this world! :)

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  8. I'm so glad you enjoyed reading about our journey! And trust me, we fail the Lord constantly, but hopefully we will get it right with all the years we'll have together!

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  9. I agree, it's been so wonderful seeing him change from high school to college, and now college to a career man! :) I can't wait to see him as a father!  

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  10. Thanks Emily! We were very fortunate that my parents were very supportive, as they got married very young as well. I am so excited to hopefully soon hear details about your wedding planning! :)

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  11. I appreciate this post! (found you via Dwija for the 12 pictures post). I was wondering how young you were when you got married and after reading this, I too got married young! I was 22, and we will have been married 12 years this May. I'm sorry you got snide comments about your age! So much seems to have changed since I was married. I feel sorry for people who wait tons of time and have all those lists of "needs" before they get married. And then before they know it, lots of things have passed them by.
    I'm glad you and your husband seem to have level heads and wish you many blessings for your life together!

    ~Beth

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