Wednesday, February 5, 2014

On Marrying Young: How to Marry a Man You Just Met

When I started the On Marrying Young series, I had no idea it would resonate with so many people or that I would receive so many guest post submissions. I started out as a series that I was writing, but I quickly realized that it was much more valuable to share the varied experiences of other women who married young (or not).  (Still waiting for some guest post submissions for men. *wink* *nudge*).  Today's post is from the author of the smartest blog in the Catholic blog-o-sphere (or so say the masses who voted for the Sheenazing awards), Kendra of Catholic All Year.  Thanks, Kendra.

Thanks to Mandi for letting me put my two cents in on her ongoing series of posts about marrying young. I was 24 when I got married.  Not as young as some certainly, but I still had a lot of growing up to do, so I'm going to go ahead and say I married young. But I also married fast. We were engaged within ten weeks of meeting, and were married in nine months.

Ever since Frozen burst onto the pop culture scene, folks have been sagely nodding their heads in unison about how refreshing it is to see Disney finally telling it like it is:

Because getting married is a serious decision, and all those other Disney princesses who ran off to marry some guy she barely knew just because he woke her up or found her shoe are setting a terrible example for young people.

But here's the thing . . . Yes, getting married is a VERY serious decision. And sometimes, putting it off is the right call. But not because postponing marriage will ensure that you *really* know the person you are marrying. Because you can't. No matter how long you date someone, you can't know exactly who he is, because who he is will change. You can't know how he'll react to parenthood, or losing his job, or illness, or your baffling inability to input multiple kids' sports schedules into iCal properly.

You will change too.

When we met, I had a job, two cats, and clean and dirty piles for the laundry.

My husband was a Marine Corps officer working at Boot Camp. He used an unzipped sleeping bag as a comforter on his bed for efficiency and ate a plain peanut butter sandwich for lunch every day.

None of those things is true of either of us anymore. We have both changed in both superficial and fundamental ways.

Circumstances change and people change with them. Who he is with you as a single guy on a romantic night on the town is not a good indicator of who he will be when you're facing a crisis. But you can't vet him in every possible situation. At some point you just have trust.

So, here's how to marry a man you just met:

1. Be compatible

We all have our quirks, the things about us that might drive some folks up a wall. The trick is to marry someone whose quirks don't bother you. Or better yet, whose quirks you don't even notice. It doesn't take years, or even months, to know that you feel really comfortable around someone. Sometimes it can all come out in one magical night when you realize you like the same movies, and you hate the same pop songs, and have the same general worldview. And he doesn't even notice that weird thing you do when you chew.

My husband and I are the same in some ways and compatible in others. This was true on the evening we met and on our first date and on the night we got engaged. It's true now. It will still be true on our deathbeds.

2. Be committed

As spouses, it's important that you generally enjoy each other's company, and are committed to each other. But it's even more important to be committed to the IDEA of marriage. If you go into a marriage utterly committed to not only your husband but to marriage itself, as an indissoluble union -- and he does the same thing, well that's most of the battle won already.

Because people change, and circumstances change, but the institution stands. If you never entertained any concept of a marriage failing, then you've got to be more likely to have yours succeed.

My husband and I are blessed to both have happily married sets of parents, so growing up, we both had real life examples of what marriage looks like. It's not a prerequisite to a happy marriage, of course, but it helps. We also have surrounded ourselves with friends who take their marriages seriously. And none of that could have been changed any by dating longer.

3. Answer to a higher power

And when the institution of marriage itself isn't inspiring enough, we are inspired by faith. Our faith calls us every day to be better spouses and better individuals. It calls us to be self-controlled and self-sacrificing. It calls us to give ourselves completely to the other. If we are willing to love our spouses as we are called by God to do, we cannot fail. But this isn't something that comes from going on a certain number of dates.

And, honestly, when we were dating neither one of us knew how much we would grow in our faith, as individuals and as spouses. The beauty of a sacramental marriage, is that it gives you the grace you need to live it. When you need it. Not before. And not dependent on any particular timetable.


So, I'm going to side with Cinderella, not Elsa. I'm going to say you *can* marry a man you just met, and you can marry young, and you can marry poor, and you can have kids right away, and you can have too many kids. And you can do all those things even though some folks say they aren't responsible. You can weather moves, and job changes, and health scares, and tragedies. Not because you really knew each other before you got married, but because you trusted in God and in each other and you choose to love each other anew each day.


The header of Kendra Tierney’s blog, Catholic All Year, says it’s about homemaking, homeschooling, and Catholic life. But sometimes it’s also about things she’s watched on Netflix streaming, her campaign to get all cry rooms filled with cement, and Zombie apocalypse birthday parties. Why the good people at Ignatius Press thought it was a good idea to let her write a book about confession for kids is anyone’s guess. But they did, and it's available for pre-order.

For more on Frozen: I Bought into the Frozen Hype. Now I want a refund.


  1. Great post! I 100% agree with everyone you said, especially #2 and #3. I thnk just being committed to marriage and not considering divorce an option is half the battle.

    I married young (23) and a man I just met (we met 15 months prior to our wedding day). It is so true that you never know what will happen and how the other person will react to it and that you both change and grow over time. Neither one of us are the same people we were 13 years ago, and we've been through a lot together.

  2. Love this! I wouldn't say that my husband and I married quickly (we dated/engaged for almost 3 years) but I did know within a month that I would be marrying him. :) And I would have married him sooner if it would have worked. :)

  3. 4 words, Kendra: ain't it the truth. You have inspired me to blog about this subject today!

  4. Nodding yes to all of this. All of it! Especially this: "your baffling inability to input multiple kids' sports schedules into iCal properly." Why my husband puts up with me and my iCal problems is only known by the Good Lord.

  5. Lovely!

    My husband and I met in September, were engaged in December, and married in May when I was 22 and he was 23. Marriage has not been easy, but we have remained committed to one another, to our marriage, and to the Lord through all of it, and after all we've overcome together, we love each other more and are more closely bound than we ever were before.

    And I look forward to growing all the more closer in the years ahead!

    I just want to say a special thank you for supporting unconventional choices made with the Lord. I have felt too heavily those thoughts-- 'you had children too young, you married too young, you are too poor to have children', etc. It is incapacitating at times, but you are right. Thanks for adding a voice to my mind that can fight for what I already know are the right choices!

  6. I loved this so so much. It is so true and I wish this article was around when I was dating so I could have directed certain people to it :) I'm not good at vocalizing my thoughts but you did it wonderfully here. Especially on #2 and #3. I was married 'young' at 24 but to me that just didn't seem young. Both my sisters and a sister-in-law married at 21 and had babies at 22.

    Our wedding was just shy of a year after our first date, which was what I call partially blind (I had seen him act as best man at a wedding; he looked good and gave a tear jerking toast about what it means to serve as an alter boy along side your brother, but he was otherwise a stranger). Some thought the engagement was quick, but for me what was crucial was having my family, his family, our lifelong friends, approve. What I would add for the marrying young crowd, or the very quick crowd, is that if EVERYONE in your life thinks it's a bad idea, you should probably slow down for a listen. And mostly this would be if they disapprove of the person, not just the time frame.

  7. I wish all the women I council at Birthline could have read this article before they came to us needing help. Most are raising the children alone and at the poverty level because they made bad choices on their boyfriend or husband and are paying the price. My heart goes out to them and most of all to the children who don't have a father to help raise them. Nanacamille

  8. Excellent and true! I'm still baffled that marriages work without faith. I feel as if marriage is hard with faith but almost impossible without. And it's so true about the quirks. I always think you should want to marry someone you can be silent with, play games with, and be bored with.

    And you guys are so glamorous and tall in your wedding picture...I just love it!

  9. I love this. My husband and I were a marrying quick couple. We met in March (I say met, more like sat in the same room at the same time for the same meetings), started dating in June, got engaged in August, and got married in January. And then we got pregnant with twins in April, had them the following January, and got pregnant again the following July with the little guy that's due in nine weeks. We've done everything quick, but our marriage is solid and we always tell people who give us the side eye after we tell them how quick we went from practically strangers to married with kids "Hey, when you know you know!".

  10. I love this! You are so right that you and your spouse will both change and circumstances will change, and there is no magical period of time you can date that will prevent you from having challenges in your marriage. Marriage is wonderful but also challenging by nature. Commitment and faith are both critical components to marriage. I don't think I married particularly young--I was 26-- but some say we got engaged quickly-- after 6 months. My husband said he knew I was "the one" after our 2nd date and would have known after our first date had it lasted longer. :) I knew I was going to marry him about a month into dating.

  11. I wouldn't say I'm marrying young, my fiance and I are both 26, but some would consider it to be a bit fast. We started dating last May, got engaged in December and are getting married this May. I was engaged about 4 years ago and in hindsight I can see clearly that my ex and I were not compatible. I would say that I didn't have a good understanding of what it means to be compatible in a marriage relationship and that engagement ended badly with alot of misunderstanding and hurt feelings. After that experience I thought if it took that long to figure out that I shouldn't be with him and I was wrong for so long, how will I ever know if I've found the right guy? It will take years of dating to figure this all out and get to know a guy well enough to consider marrying him! Several years later, after doing some maturing and processing what I could learn from my first relationship, I discovered that if you are truly compatible with someone, it doesn't take long for it to just about slap you in the face and turn your life upside down! I even tried to hold off for awhile and say no I can't know this fast that I'll marry him, we need to take more time and figure things out, I can't mess this up again. But it just kept being so obvious that we were meant for each other that I couldn't help but acknowledge and embrace it within a couple months of dating. It doesn't feel fast to us at all, we would have gladly gone on an ever quicker timeline if it had worked out with other stuff going on in life and our families. A year ago I never would have believed I'd be where I am today and I feel so blessed and grateful for the Lord's leading in this area even though it didn't look anything like I would have expected 5 years ago!

  12. I love this! It's so true. When my husband and I met I was 17, graduated and moved out kind of 17 (but still, 17!), we were engaged when I was 18 and married at 19. The whole courtship to marriage was about a year and a half. Four years and two kids (so far) later I'm so grateful we trusted in God and our gut!

  13. funny thing.... this will work for a small % of people but means nothing to most. MOST people cant marry someone they just met and make it work. Its just pure statistics from history. Sure some can..... most cant. simple as that.


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