Tuesday, January 24, 2012

On Marrying Young: Finding a Balance

I wrote a guest post for Katie of NFP and Me a while back and now she is returning the favor.  And she has such a great story to tell: she is a young wife AND in med school!  I know what it is like to be married to a grad student, but I love hearing it from the opposite perspective (and I have an inkling that med school is quite a bit more strenuous that my husband's PhD program).  Many people wait until school is over to get married, and for many people that is perhaps the best choice for them, but Katie reminds us that there are many people out there that choose to marry during school...and are better for it!  


High School Graduation
I never dreamt I would get married young. My group of friends tended to not really date guys, but instead just hang out with a group of people. I had just one boyfriend in high school and my three best friends never dated anyone either. (My pride is insisting upon informing you that this wasn't because we weren't popular. My best friend was the homecoming queen.  Honest.) We just preferred to hang out in a group with our guy friends and leave it there. I think that is one of the advantages to going to the same small school your whole life. All the guys become brotherly and you could NEVER imagine dating them. Gross. So my whole life I’ve had one guy I actually ever called my boyfriend and just a couple that I would have said I was “talking” to (What does that even mean anyways?). That is until Steven came along. 

In case you can't tell by all the teeth, I was excited.
I met Steven when I was 19 through our college’s Newman Center. We were both in the middle of a reversion to our Catholic faith and couldn’t have met at a more perfect time. Funny how God knows these things. We started dating in the spring of 2008 and we got engaged in the fall of 2009. Our dating story was pretty typical except for the year of long distance when Steven did work with Americorp in St. Louis. The engagement and married life is where it gets a little more…fun? Sure we’ll call it fun.

We got engaged just after I submitted my standardized applications for medical school. (Quick rundown of applying to med school- standardized application, then supplemental application which varies by school, then the on campus interview, then up to a month before acceptance or rejection letter.) We had no idea what our plans would be after I graduated, where we would be living, what kind of job Steven would have, or if I would even be accepted that year. It was a stressful time for a Type A person like me. Fortunately God came through with one of those “I’ve got this” moments. I was accepted into 4 medical schools including my number one pick, KU.

I do-ing
But everything can't be perfect. School started two days before the wedding which was stressful and meant no honeymoon. As if the first year of marriage and first year of med school weren't enough, it was also the first time I'd ever lived outside of my parents’ home and outside of my small hometown of 1500 people. It was quite the adjustment.

And by adjustment I mean living hell. I was studying all the time, Steven had just started a new job, I had to do dishes, and laundry, and vacuum (Isn't that what moms are for?), and I was trying to make new friends. As you could imagine I was more than stressed. It showed in my schooling and in my marriage. Steven and I fought about the dishes, laundry, and vacuuming. I kept thinking "What the hell did I get myself into? I can't possibly keep up with everything.” I felt inadequate in every role I was partaking in.

Those first few months were really hard as I tried to define myself as a wife, student, classmate, and daughter. But when I look back on it now I have no idea how I would have gotten through it without Steven. He was my rock.  Being married added to some of the stress, of course, but it took away tenfold of what it added. Steven may not have been the best at seeing the sink was full of dirty dishes but he took care of all the bills, health insurance (and car, and renter's, and life), and did all of the rest of our finances. When school got to be too much, he was there to play a game or quiz me over the immune system or, most importantly, just sit and listen to me vent.

Maybe for some people holding off on marriage until after school, after getting a certain job, or some other worthy achievement may sound ideal. I am thankful that isn't how it worked out for us. I cannot imagine this past year and a half of my life without Steven. We all have our cross to carry and right now the countless hours of studying, devotion to the God of medicine, and infuriating emotional roller coaster that is medical school is mine. I am so very thankful that God blessed me with my very own Simon. Someone who was fearful at first of this world we would be navigating for the next 7-8 years, someone who has since carried me through my weakest of times, someone who gives so much of themselves for me to be able to fulfill my duty on this earth. I am blessed that I found him at the young age I did because it means that I have that many more years to love him, grow with him, and hopefully, if I'm lucky, help him as much as he helps me.

Katie blogs at NFP and Me about her life as a pro-life Catholic medical student (quite the enigma), being a wife to Steven and dog-mom to Jack, and you guessed it: the joys and pains of practicing Natural Family Planning.

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


  1. This makes me feel better about being married while I'll be in graduate school. I'm glad that you have had Steven through it all to be there for you and I think sometimes it's important to go through struggles together rather than waiting to get married and be apart for them.
    Also, your wedding dress was beautiful :)

  2. I love this! Grad school can be miserable, but having the person you love by your side can make it better.

    By the way, where did Stephen do his Americorps work? I was a Vincentian Service Corps volunteer in St. Louis from 08-09!

  3. I'm getting married in August. I still have a year of undergrad left (yay for the "six year plan"!). A bunch of people don't get why we're not waiting, but those same people are all living with (and sleeping with) their significant others. I am praying that you stay encouraged. :)

  4. This is a great reflection on marrying young! I'm so glad that you have your husband to be your "rock." That is a HUGE blessing for a med student (or anyone -- but it's quite evident that med school is ridiculously rigorous)!

  5. As someone who did it the "world's" way, I think that waiting to get married till you've accomplished x,y, or z is actually really detrimental to a marriage in the long run. I still struggle with having kids because I'm basically conditioned to think "yeah, but, we need to get a bigger car first, and a bigger house and we need to do blah, blah, blah." Someone in your situation can be more open to life because you can say "yeah, but we did this before and it was fine, it will be fine now."
    Great post!

  6. What an amazing (and harrowing!) journey. You look like you're doing great now!

    I wouldn't have gotten this far in graduate school without my husband, either. Some people advise 'living your life' before getting married but this IS life and it's so much nicer to share it with someone.

    @Emily: You'll make it work in grad school, don't worry!

  7. Beautiful story, Katie! From the other side, dating, being engaged to, and now married to a med student isn't always easy either. Good for you for taking that leap and not putting off marriage for a few more years :)

  8. Well done. When I was first married, I moved from Jersey to Kentucky (yikes!) so hubby (who I had dated long distance) could finish grad school at UK. While he was pursuing something he loved, with like-minded people, I had to take a crummy job, move away from all my friends, and adjust to the intense cultural differences - and this was Before most people had cell phones and internet, mind you (1995) so there was no "keeping in touch" in any practical way. Yes, it was hell. But this was also where the sacramental grace came in. I was truly unhappy in my job, in the state, with no friends. But the marriage was always good. It was right - it "fit". And almost 17 years later :) I can say it was worth it not to wait...

  9. Love your honest post! I'm glad you married young, too! You need a partner to get through life, let alone Med School!

  10. Great post! I agree with everyone else that society tells us how to do things but look at the divorce rate and co-habitation that takes place. I'm not sure that "waiting" is helping anyone. I liked how you struggled with who cleans and does the housework because that is always an issue and married life isn't candy and daisy's like everyone assumes it is.

  11. i'm another who married in grad school (seminary) and i can attest that it's about what works for you. one thing that the seminary stressed (this is a lutheran one -- we allow married clergy) is to take your family with you on the journey which means that your spouse and kids are part of the consideration in the call process and the internship process.

  12. I finally read this lovely post! Wow, what a witness! I've heard so many people (including myself at times) say that they're waiting for after they finish college, then grad school, then get settled with their finances, then get a job, and on and on. I think to trust in God and each other like you guys did, even among the chaos of life, makes a marriage so much stronger and deeper! Thank you for sharing!!

  13. Thanks for all of the wonderful comments! It's nice hearing compliments about this story instead of the usual "Are you nuts?" that I normally get. :)

    1. I know right! My cousin got married at 24 and 25 and everyone complained "they were too young" they were both still in grad school and they live with her parents. But they'd been engaged for a good 4 YEARS so it wasn't like they didn't know each other. I hate how in this world everyone thinks they need to tell everyone else how to live their lives! So frustrating!

  14. :-) Love it. And I agree. Once I knew Adam was my vocation, I didn't want to wait even a minute to share my life with him.

  15. Katie, I loved this story! Thank you for sharing :)

  16. What a great post :-) I love reading about other people who married while in school...you guys are super cute!

  17. What? You didn't accomplish all of your goals in life prior to marriage? You must not drive a Honda! lol. (Couldn't resist after our convo on Twitter)
    Anyway, I totally agree with you. We got married right before my husband started law school, and while some people thought we were crazy/too young/etc, we loved it. Law school, med school, and life in general are always going to be stressful times. Having someone who loves and supports you to come home to at night seems like it could only help! I don't think people should marry young just for the sake of marrying young, but if you are sure you've found the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, I don't think there is anything positive about arbitrarily waiting until you reach some certain age.


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