Monday, August 19, 2013

On Marrying Young: 4 Tips for Young Married Couples

When I asked some of my blogger friends for guests post during our move/transition, I gave a few ideas of topics, including my two blog series (this one and Baby on a Budget).  Haley quickly responded, "Oh, marrying young. I can write on that. I was 12 years old. OK, 20. But I look 12 in the wedding pics."  Lucky you, you get to check out one of those pictures below!  And some tips from a young bride turned experienced wife and mama of three.
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I didn’t plan on getting married young, it’s just how things worked out. My high school sweetheart Daniel and I broke up before I moved across the country for college, but after a few months apart we decided to try long-distance. A year later we were engaged and set the date for our wedding for five months hence, just after I completed my sophomore year. I was 20 and he was 21. Look how young and cute we were!


I’m a big fan of getting married young, but seeing that many of our friends who were married in their early twenties are already divorced, it’s clearly not for everyone. And many times we’ve asked ourselves, what makes a marriage work when you marry young? Why have we been able to stay together? I’m going to share a few of the things we’ve reflected on:


Don’t Give Yourself an Out:
Even before we converted to Catholicism, we were given strong examples of committed marriage from our parents (something we were so lucky to have!). Both sets of parents are still married and that gave us a huge advantage as we entered the married state. So we came into marriage believing that there was no “out” if we were no longer happy together. This was the decision we had made and we would have to make the best of it, come what may. This emphasis on the lifelong commitment of marriage only became deeper and richer when we entered the Church and came to see marriage as infused with sacramental grace. Despite all our mistakes and shortcomings during those first years, divorce simply was never an option and so we were motivated to solve our problems and find joy in our marriage even when it was difficult or we felt distant.


Don’t Overspend:
If you get married young, most of your friends are still college students or living like college students. There’s no need to up your living expenses simply because you’re married. In fact, getting married and sharing an apartment saved us money after living apart. Our first year we had a one bedroom apartment and couldn’t even afford furniture. We sat on pillows and Daniel made a tabletop that we rested on flower pots as our dining room table and we felt rich as kings because being married is fun. Exceeding your income will only stress out your marriage.


Don’t Overemphasize Your Individual Journey:
When you get married you are now a family that has to journey together. That means that your marriage becomes more important than your journey as an individual. This certainly does not mean that you will not grow and expand as a person, but if your journey takes you in a very different direction than your spouse, it will be a huge stress on your marriage. This means that decisions about careers and pursuits have to be made in light of what is best for your marriage. Although you both might find a career in academia personally fulfilling, if those careers require you to live in separate cities, it may simply be incompatible with a healthy marriage. It’s also crucial to encourage your spouse’s interests and enjoy those things together. I would never have become interested in farming and homesteading if not for Daniel, but as I supported his interests, I became genuinely interested myself and it’s now a part of our identity as a couple. He listened attentively to my musings on Jane Austen novels until discussing Austen’s examination of human virtue became one of our favorite topics to talk about together. So, putting your marriage above your individual aspirations doesn’t mean you will be damaging your personal journey, but that you are expanding your world to always include the other person. This was especially important as we journeyed toward the Catholic faith. We were able to do it together.


Discuss How Your Friendships Will Change:
When you’re the only married couple in your circle of friends, you have to navigate some changes to your friendships that your friends haven’t faced yet. While pre-marriage you may have had many friends of the opposite sex that you spent time with alone, you may need to alter how you view those relationships. And it’s important to discuss these transitions with your spouse at the very beginning so that you’ve already laid some ground rules before any awkward situations arise. It’s so important to expand your friendships to include your spouse. And while it might still be appropriate to spend time with friends of the opposite sex, depending on the relationship, it really might not be. It’s probably never a good idea to discuss any marital problems with a friend of the opposite sex. The bottom line is that you need to address these issues as a couple and have a game plan in place.

I am so grateful to have the opportunity to start out our married life early. Marriage makes a big dent in the selfishness that has been hiding in your heart. It brings it right to the surface so you are forced to deal with it. And the younger you are, the easier it is to attack those selfish bents. I know I’m a far better person that I was 7 years ago when I had the good fortune to marry Daniel. Sharing life with him is one of the best things to ever happen to me!


Haley Stewart is a bookish Catholic wife and mama of a preschooler, a toddler, and a newborn living in the deep south on her little urban homestead. When she gets a moment to herself she loves to read Jane Austen, Evelyn Waugh, L.M. Montgomery, or Flannery O’Connor with a cup of coffee in hand. Her husband of seven years is an amazing cook, gardener, beard-grower, ultra-marathon runner, and father who patiently puts up with her failure to stay organized and her obsession with musicals. Haley muses about cultivating a Catholic family through literature, liturgical living, and urban homesteading at her blog Carrots for Michaelmas


Please check out the other posts in the On Marrying Young series.




24 comments:

  1. Great post as always, Haley! Love the reminder to not up the standard of living because of how you "think" you should live once you're married.

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  2. Thank, Kelley! I've even had friends who postponed marriage for years because they didn't want to live like students as a married couple. Not worth it!

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  3. My husband and I were 19 & 20 when we got married, 16 years later we're still madly in love. It hasn't always been easy, but it's always been worth it.

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    1. "It hasn't always been easy, but it's always been worth it."
      I love that, Heather!

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  4. Haley, I love how you talk about Divorce. I heard something on the Christian radio station that I listen to. It was talking about not even letting the "D" word into your home. I really feel like divorce should never be an option if you want to have a successful marriage, and you hit that nail on the head.

    I got married when I was 20 also. I'm now 24, and we still have a long way to go as a family, but I love that I get to spend most of my life with my husband instead of just my later years.

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    1. My parents wisely told me that no matter how good your marriage is, one day you will be mad/hurt/upset enough to walk out the door and so it can't ever be an option or else it's too easy to let it happen. Married at 20 FTW! :)

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  5. I also got married when I was 20! (STILL surprised I managed to get that rum on our honeymoon...that wedding band?!?) And yes, it's so important not to let yourselves have an "out" and to put your marriage first. It's always, always worth it and I'm so glad we did it.

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    1. Haha! We were married in a Baptist church so we didn't get the option to have liquor at the reception and I think Daniel (already at the venerable age of 21) ordered me some wine on our honeymoon (rebel!).

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  6. Haley~ as always you never disappoint! Please read my entire post before judging. I am one of your biggest fans and am so inspired by you but when I read your headline this morning I literally thought.....IS SHE CRAZY?? She hasn't even been married long enough to know if getting married young was a good idea. I too married my high school sweetheart , had a wedding, a baby, and a house (not furnished ) by the time I was 19. Unfortunately, I did not have good roll models when it came I marriage, both of my parents have been married 8 times between the two of them. However, I knew that wasn't what I wanted and I'm happy to say that after 25 years we are still married, still madly in love, and now have furniture. We were blessed with one beautiful daughter who is in medical school and couldn't be more proud. Y point to this is that I wish I would have has this article to read when I was 19 , it would have saved so many tears and sleepless nights as a young mother and wife. As another poster commented.....divorce was never an option and while it has not always been easy it HAS ALWAYS BEEN WORTH IT. Thank you for your great insight as always. And as a side note..my only brother also married his high school sweetheart...got married two days after they turned 18 and are also married still today with two lovely daughters. As adults in early marriage both my brother and I found our way back to the church and have raised our children as Catholics.

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    1. Love this comment! I know 7 years ain't nothin, so it's wonderful to see examples of couples who married young and are still together after decades!

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  7. Love the engagement photo! I got married at 26 years old but could still relate to so many of your points. Definitely yes on the don't give yourself an out, but I especially enjoyed your point about not overemphasizing your individual journey (me to us is a big adjustment). I had friendships that needed to change as well. Great tips!

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    1. Thanks, Jennifer! Our engagement photos crack me up!

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  8. We were married at 20 and 22, fourteen years ago--and only waited that long because we couldn't get married housing and thought one of us should graduate before then because of it. I always hate hearing people say that young marriages can't last. After all, we got to grow up together in a sense.

    We also made a rule that we never complain to our parents about the other, after all, whose side are they going to take and long after we had forgiven and forgotten in-laws might still hold on to a slight to their child.

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    1. That is SUCH great advice, Kristy. We have that rule, too. I would never want something I said about Daniel out of frustration or the heat of the moment to affect my parents view of him forever! I totally agree that you have to be a team with your spouse and part of that is not badmouthing them to your parents.

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  9. I was married at 19 and have been married for 20 years. I couldn't agree more. You have to grow together and not apart. Respect each others interests and try to like them too. That is a big one.

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    1. I think it's hard for us who grow up in such a individualistic culture. It's hard to learn to grow together, but so essential! So encouraged by couples like you!

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  10. Also married just shy of 21, love it, best decision we ever did:)

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  11. I love this! My hubby and I have been married a little over a year now. We got married 1 month before I turned 21. I went from living with my parents to being married, moving 12 hours away, and knowing no one but my husband very quickly! It was a huge change! I tease my husband that he had to finish raising me (he's 6 years older). But I wouldn't change anything! Thankfully he was (and is) so patient with me as we learn how to be married!

    The thing that I think helped both of us adjust to married life is that we came into our marriage knowing that it wouldn't be easy and that it wouldn't be rosy all the time. We knew that it could be AMAZING if we both gave 100%, but we also knew that it would take WORK. Knowing and believing that a great marriage doesn't just happen helped us so much!

    I love being married! God has blessed me with an amazing man and I'm so thankful that I have (Lord Willing) 70 or so years with him!

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    1. Wow! That is a lot of transitions in a short time! Congrats on your marriage and well-wishes for many more happy years!

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  12. Great post! Does 24 count as married young? I don't even know. It's a lot older than 20, but I still felt very young. And it was a great move for me, not only because my husband's a swell fella, but also for the reasons you mention, avoiding selfishness and growing together. In some ways, I think it's a lot easier than marrying after having had time to set up house yourself and come to a lot of conclusions about how things ought to be done!

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    1. 24 totally counts, Kendra! :) I agree that's it's easier to fall into life together if you haven't already set up your life just so. Still loving your blog, m'dear.

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  13. I've enjoyed reading this post as well as the comments. So glad that women are getting married young. I got married at 32 and I guess it was the right tome for me, but I think that it is nicer to grow up together and really develop as a team while one is still young and flexible and open to change to a greater degree. Plus, having babies at an older age is more difficult in all sorts of ways. I was 34 when I had my first and 36 with my second child. It was just so tiring. I had much more energy (and patience!) when I was in my early to mid 20s. I will encourage my children to think about marriage when they are young and not to wait too long.

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  14. I have read your lovely blog for a couple of months now and enjoy it very much. My husband and I married at 22 and 23 and recently celebrated our 32nd anniversary. Sometimes when things are difficult we need to remind ourselves that we are best friends and we need to always treat each other that way. It's a simple concept and it works. I've learned that love is a verb and that no matter how I'm feeling, I need to treat my husband with loving actions. When we married, my husband was a farmer and finances were difficult. We had our first child at 29 and 30 and then due to infertility issues our second was born when we were 41 and 42. I have to say that having children at a younger age is easier physically, but having them when older is easier mentally due to more life experience. They are a blessing at any time in life!

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I'd love to hear what you have to say! You can also contact me directly by emailing me at messywifeblessedlife@gmail.com.