I never imagined I’d be the “type” of girl to get married young. And if that sounds judgmental and presumptuous, you’re right. I was judgmental and presumptous about college girls wearing engagement rings, or people making life-long commitments before their 25th birthdays. I think my exact opinion was: “Pssssshh” with a somewhat disgusted look, probably rolling my eyes.
And that’s a majority opinion in his country, in this decade. While it used to be normal and expected for young women to settle down and get married before the ink dried on their high school diplomas (and in some subcultures, that’s still the case), mainstream society has taken a major shift. Young wives are widely assumed to be old-fashioned, anti-feminist, super religious, ignorantly inexperienced, destined for divorce—usually all of the above. This new societal stereotype is everywhere from whispery gossip to TV plots. A “smart and educated young lady” knows better.
Yet as life happened, I willingly signed a marriage certificate in 2008, with an 8-month-pregnant belly between us. I was 22 years old.
Six years later, I’ve had more than just my perspective shifted. I’ve grown and matured in so many ways—mostly because of things in and around my marriage. Yes, marriage is challenging and getting married at a young age sets us up for unique obstacles, but there are also little-known perks to entering marriage and adulthood roughly at the same time. It’s not all bad decisions and dead ends.
1. We grew up together.
My husband is 30 years old, but I remember him at 18. I remember him living with roommates and delivering pizzas, fresh out of high school. We’ve been together through college classes, internships, big moves, small moves, graying hair, changing bodies. We’ve watched each other launch careers and tackle goals that we once dreamed up on thrift-store furniture, in what feels like former lives.
We grew up together, but also because of each other. I’m proud of the man he’s grown into, and I know he feels the same pride and respect toward me. We’ve come a long way, and it’s nice to have someone witness the progress.
2. There’s less baggage.
We both have separate pasts. We didn’t “save ourselves” for marriage, or have a highschool sweetheart storyline. But in a way, we did. He’s my first and only adult relationship, so all of that grown-up intimacy—the shared apartments and pets and memorable travelling adventures—is something I’ve only shared with him. I didn’t spend a bulk of my life with someone else; how could I? I was off the market by 20 years old. All of our baggage is checked together.
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