I don't think I ever really gave much thought to an exact age at which I thought I would get married. In some abstract way I think I imagined I'd be 25-ish, but that sort of thing is difficult to imagine until you have some real experience. I decided my husband was marriage material (in a rather mature manner for a 14/15 year-old) before we started dating, but we didn't really talk about it in any real way until we started college. What I found quite funny was that when I was in high school, the idea of marrying my boyfriend was considered laughable; once I crossed into college 2 months later, it suddenly became an acceptable quandary from friends and relatives.
We knew it was best to wait until we finished school since couples who marry during college have a very hard time if their decision is not supported by their family (which ours would not have been), but I will admit that this was something he felt much more strongly about than me. (I am quite blessed to have a husband who regularly outshines me in the decision-making department!) In the end, he proposed during our senior year of college and we married that summer after we graduated.
Many people I knew in college were adamant that they would not marry before a certain age or before they had visited here and there or accomplished x, y, and z. I understood this idea--after all, living in exotic places or suddenly moving on a whim are much easier without another person to consider. However, these people had not met anyone with whom they could imagine spending their lives. It was easy for them to say. All I could think was that perhaps there were some things I could have done for a few years post-graduation, but would I have wanted to walk away from what many people spend most of their lives looking for just so I could say how independent I was for a few years? I think it was a wonderful blessing that I found my husband so young. We grew up together--in every sense. Our seven-plus years of dating contained all of the milestones on the path to adulthood--driving, jobs, college, finances, etc. We grew and changed together--and unusually enough, that worked for us.
Also, just because one gets married does not mean adventures have to end. If you have ever read my blog, you can see that our short, 3-year marriage has been more chock-a-block full of adventure than some marriages several times as long. Before our next anniversary we will have lived in at least 6 different apartments in 2 different states and 2 different countries. We have traveled and explored. I still don't quite understand couples who seem to think that marriage requires one to be ready to "settle down". Why not take that person with you? Why exactly are you not "ready" to marry the person with whom you have shared life and now maybe even a home?
I will say that we have been blessed to have not faced many challenges specific to being young. A lot of credit for that should go to our families. We began our marriage with a relatively new car we didn't buy and never made a payment on, loads of shower and wedding gifts, and monetary gifts that helped us get started. We had educations that were mostly given to us and very little debt. We also knew lots of other people in our circle of friends and community who married young. Even though my husband was in graduate school the first two years we were married, his education was paid for and he received a stipend. I worked full-time as a nurse and we usually felt quite comfortable.
Perhaps the most frustrating thing for us has been meeting married couples our age in church. Unless you attend a conservative, evangelical or Baptist church, most churches these days are missing young married couples. They return to church just before having kids because they want the children to grow up in church, but don't feel it's necessary when it is just the two of them. If I just described you, I hope you'll consider that there may be a couple just like you hoping that you'll show up at church someday.
Marrying young isn't for everyone. But I hope that couples who feel it is the right choice for them will find the support they need. I also encourage individuals to not put an age on when the right time to get married will be and to leave your future open so that if God brings the right person to you, you will not walk away because it is "2 years too early". And finally, don't shy away from marriage so much. It's a big deal, yes. But if you are committed to each other and are living together, really consider why it is that you aren't "ready". The rewards of marriage are plentiful :-)
KelleyAnnie and her husband, Brice, have been married for three years and currently live in Germany. Their blog has been chronicling their married life from day one. You can follow their adventures (with a current heavy focus on European travel!), read book and movie reviews, recipes, and a hodge-podge of other faith-based thoughts at Over the Threshold.