Tuesday, August 23, 2011

On Marrying Young: Introduction

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.  


  1. This should be an interesting read!

    When we got married I was 22, but my husband was 28. Therefore one of us was in our early 20s and the other late 20s. The only thing I can really think of that has been impacted is at what age we will start our family. But, I guess that doesn't matter so much for the man - if Brian and I had both been 28 I would have been way more concerned about my biological clock.

    Not that I don't want kids now - I really, really do! But knowing that I'm 23 and I do have time puts less pressure on me somehow. I can't imagine being 28 and realizing you only have about 7 more years of good fertility. I mean, what if you wanted to have a large family?

    Looking forward to your posts! :)

  2. Ooh, I look forward to reading what you have to say on this topic.

    I was 26 when we married (average age), but looking back on it now, I think, man, I was young.

    I think more than age, it's a person's maturity that matters. If you're mature and ready for marriage at 23, then great. If you're not yet mature until 33, then so be it.

    Although, I do hope that my girls marry relatively young. From what I've heard it's so much easier to form and meld a life together when you're younger than if you wait until you're older.

    Looking forward to your post!

  3. This is going to be interesting! I am 22 currently and my fiancé and I will both be 23 when we marry this fall. We have been together since we were 16 so feel that we are very ready for this step. We do get a lot of comments about marrying so young but this is the right decision for us and I think that it is a huge blessing to have met my future husband at such a young age. I`m sure we will undoubtedly face our share of challenges but this is the right decision for us. I can`t wait to hear what you have to say. Look forward to your advice. Alexandra.

  4. Great post! I'm 23 and my boyfriend is 24. We're planning on getting married close to his graduation from med school, which is in two years. I think it'll be better that we're marrying young in the sense that we are not going to get into our own groove patterns. My aunt married later in life, and I notice that she and my uncle are flexible while still being more set in their ways. This way, B. and I will be learning and growing together!

  5. I was 23 and my husband was 26 (just shy of 27) when we married. And it WAS really weird. But, surprisingly, it was only weird for where we were at the time (Texas). When we moved to Iowa, most people thought it was average, with many of our friends having gotten married much younger. Now that we're back in Texas, it's no longer the age of when we got married that seems to throw people, but our size of family (since we're hitting number 3 and most friends have 1, maybe 2). I figure to each their own.

  6. I love this post! I think that regardless of age or life experience, there are positives and challenges no matter the situation. I really look forward to your reflections. As someone who is not married and does not kids and will be older when (if!) it happens, I am excited to see a different perspective!

  7. I was married at 20 (my husband was 22), and our first baby was born nine months and two days later.
    We were immature, yes, but we had right intentions and the grace of the Sacrament. We have grown up together and I feel SO blessed that we found each other early, and married early.
    I can't really think of a time that I've regretted it, or wished we had waited longer.
    Marriage as young as we were isn't for everyone, I wouldn't suggest it to a lot of people - it's certainly hard for all the normal reasons that a new marriage is hard, plus being so young. For us, though, it was God's plan and His plan has done nothing but fill us with joy - even in the hard times.
    I still have friends my age looking for the man of their dreams, while I'm pregnant with my 5th child and enjoying a good handful of years of marriage (8 to be exact). It's sort of been odd being out of the same phase of life that most of my peers were in, but it doesn't bother me anymore.
    No matter when people marry, the gift of the Sacrament of Matrimony is such a blessing, and I thank God every single day for inviting me into this vocation with this amazing man, and pray that we will grow old and holy together. I can't imagine ever getting enough of him - I'm glad we found each other early!

  8. I was 28,my dh 33 when we married. It was right for us. At 21 I didn't know enough about who I was to consider marriage. By 26, when I met dh, I did. You are just more mature than I was.

    I'd like to welcome you to the Catholic Blog Directiory and invite you to participate in Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival, a weekly gathering where Catholic bloggers share posts with each other. This week's edition is at http://rannthisthat.blogspot.com/2011/08/sunday-snippets-catholic-carnival_27.html

  9. I love the idea of this. I was 22yo and my husband was 24yo when we got married. We had similar reasons as you, graduating from college and moving away (me for medical school and him for a job). It was just more practical to be married since that's where the relationship was headed anyway. Can't wait to read the rest!

  10. I've been reading your 'marrying young' posts, so interesting. I was a couple of months shy of 21 and my husband nearly 25 when we married. This was nearly 19 years ago now, but I certainly felt different. Then coupled with having a baby nine months later I really felt like a 'fish out of water" in the wider community.

  11. Wow how interesting! I was only 5 days past my 24th birthday when I got married and my husband was 22. So I can really relate. I'm looking forward to reading the other posts!

    For Love of Cupcakes

  12. Love this post! I had turned 21 less than a month before we got married and my husband had just turned 22. I got a lot of not so nice comments from everyone from friends/family to bridal consultants and photographers. People are so judgmental sometimes. My husband and I are of the mindset that if you know you're going to get married, why wait. We had been together since high school, and were just ready. We also knew he would be going away for graduate school the following fall, and we knew we didn't want to be so far apart for two years when we'd already been together for so long, you know?

  13. Hi Mandi, Thanks for your kind comment on my blog! I'm looking back through your Marrying Young series and really enjoying it. I've come across your blog many times, but you might be able to guess why I wasn't a follower before--but now that I've been moving forward, and you have a cute baby to post pictures of instead of a pregnancy to talk about, I look forward to reading more of your posts :-) God bless!

  14. My husband and I went to a marriage conference last year. One of the pastor's who spoke is a huge proponent of marrying young -- so much so that his church works to encourage it. His points were very interesting and as a parent, I will definitely encourage my kids to get married when they meet the one -- even that is at 23!  I would have loved to marry around 23 but I didn't even meet my husband until I was 27! But we met and got married within a year so we definitely didn't wait around! :-)

  15. I found this post, as well as the comments, very interesting! My husband was 23 and I was one day past my 22nd birthday when we got married. And I thought we were kinda old, ha! We waited a year to get married for financial reasons. But we have never received any comments concerning our age, even almost 4 years, and a third baby on the way, later. maybe a major part of that is that we were dating for 4 years so everyone was expecting it. Couples who I have met who met and married later in life, seemed more set in their ways and less willing to compromise. Obviously this isn't always the case, but my husband and I are so thankful to have met so young and that we were able to grow together to make such a strong, inseparable team!! 

  16. What an interesting topic! I'm looking forward to reading the rest!

  17. Very interesting! I guess I have to catch up :) I got married when I was 20 and had a lot of people try to talk me out of it too. We've had our ups and downs and were definitely babies...but I would do it again :)

  18. When we married, I was 3 weeks past my 22nd birthday. At 23, I delivered our first son. I will say that marrying young distanced many of our friendships with our young, single friends. We were house-hunting while they were out traveling and focusing on their careers. We were doing midnight feedings while they partied the night away. I don't regret a minute of it though! We have been married almost 9 years and have 4 boys. We both finished graduate school, we bought a house, my husband went through seminary, and we've worked towards paying off all our debts - all while being married. Marriage has not stopped me from living my life, it has given me a life worth living :)

  19. My husband and I were both 24 when we got married. We didn't feel young, but I guess we were. Two years later when we were pregnant with our son, my husbands brother told him he was too young to be a father! I'm going to be 30 next week and looking back, I'm glad we "started young" and wouldn't change anything.


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