Although in this society, one would think so.
My friend Carrie sent out a link for this article from the Washington Post yesterday: Say Yes. What are You Waiting For? I loved it because it confirmed what I already knew about getting married young, instead of waiting just for the sake of waiting. And hooray! It was from somebody other than a BYU professor (and why is it that most of the LDS standards are mocked until research shows we actually know what we're talking about? Always interesting, that...).
The timing of this article was interesting because over this last year, I've had a lot of time to think about it.
See, over a year ago, there was a "conversation" online (and I don't remember where, so I apologize for no linkage!) about the pros and cons to marrying "young." Now, dear reader, I think most of my readership (LDS) would consider 18-21 as young. Most of society, though? They would probably think 24-28 is young --to give you some perspective. I, however, was married at the ripe old age of 19, just to give you my definition of the word "young." (And this online conversation agreed with my definition, just fyi.)
[And just to put it out there, I am NOT a fan of women (and especially men!) under the age of 18 getting married --just to be clear. So "young" would mean "young adult" --not child-bride!]
Anyway, the online conversation had two sides: Those who think marrying young is insane, and those who do not.
More or less.
Can you guess which side I was on?
Brandon and I went out hiking shortly after this online conversation, and we talked about it. We discussed what it was like for the two of us to choose to marry young and if we had regrets about the timing. The entire conversation we had was enlightening, and it was comforting to know we agreed on everything.
See, I was 19 and Brandon has just turned 22 when we married --we were the poster couple for marrying young. We both had 2 1/2 years of school left (since Brandon had only been home from his mission for about a year), and we hadn't yet "found ourselves."
In fact, hat was the biggest argument, you know, during the online conversation: How could anyone under the age of 28 possibly be ready for marriage? They need time to find themselves! To learn who they really are! They need to finish college and get graduate degrees and serve missions and travel abroad and have many relationships before they are ready!
In one way I agree with that statement --I do think it took me about 10 years to "find myself" --I really do. In fact, I'm still "finding myself", and I'm betting women at 60 are still "finding themselves" because we are constantly evolving, learning, experiencing, changing, etc. But who has time to wait for that?! If we waited until we "found ourselves" before getting married, most of us would be dead. Or 95. Take your pick.
See, now wouldn't it be better to "find ourselves" over our life's journey with a loving (and sometimes brutally honest) companion by our side to see us through it? That's how I did it in my 20's, anyway. And luckily for me, I didn't have to make any "big mistakes" because someone always had my back. I had support and confidence and love and commitment --all a safe haven to figure out who I am and who I want to become.
But! That's not all! There are other things I have done that I never would have done without my early marriage. I never would have:
*Finished school as quickly as I did (I graduated just after turning 22!).
*Traveled abroad as often as I have (work vacations are the best!).
*Had (almost) Five children during my most fertile years, thus lowering the chances of birth defects, delivery complications, and infertility. Now with my fifth child (and being officially in my 30's), I am having complications for the first time. Perhaps my body is done? I always wonder what would have happened if I had started at 32 instead of 22...And dear reader, lest you think the whole "women are more fertile in their 20's than 30's" is just bunk --go read this. Or this.
*Learned more about myself than I would have with my own blinders on, thus giving me maturity at a younger age (although that could have just been all the kids, too!). In fact, I could see myself still floating along, not knowing what I wanted if I was still single at this point.
[Now, before I go on, I need to point out that I'm talking about those who make the conscience choice NOT to marry young, or put it off for selfish reasons. I'm not talking about the pain many people (men and women) have suffered in wanting to get married but haven't been able to. That pain is real and I want to make it clear I do not judge their situations --in fact, I have nothing but love and sympathy for them (whether they want it or not!). I mean, my grandmother didn't marry until she was 33, and my aunt didn't marry until she was 34 --but that was not "their choice" --it just happened that way, you know?]
People (in society, not really Church) have always thought I was insane for getting married so young. They are also the same people who think having more than two children is insane too, so...you know... (remember my trip to San Francisco a few weeks ago and the reaction to my pregnancy?) But anyway, I just want to point out that I'm not insane.
I've been married now for more than 10 years.
And we still love each other! (gasp!)
It gets worse --we married for love (not money) and had only known each other for 8 months when we tied the knot (gasp! gasp!).
But that's what happens when we follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost. We do things that society and "the world" deem as crazy. And then we are blessed for obeying (and more than happy to comply!). Oh! But then, if we look at the flip side, people do things (like marrying at 26 instead of 22, or not marrying that "great guy" everyone loves, etc.) that are deemed as crazy to members of the Church, even though the person refusing the marriage had also received promptings from the Holy Ghost.
[Now here I have to point out that for some people, it doesn't work out the way it did for me. There is something we all have called "agency" --and everyone makes their own choices. I don't want to diminish the pain people feel when their spouses choose to sin and end up destroying their own marriages that the Holy Ghost had told them to enter. This is real --this happens. And the pain is indescribable.]
Now, this post is already long enough, but I wanted to point out something else (that the article in the Washington Post alluded to --even if not specifically):
Why are people putting off marriage on purpose?
Personally, I think it has to do with a number of reasons:
1. Education is so highly favored and getting married young is seen as a deterrent.
2. Children are staying children longer.
3. The whole "find yourself" thing.
Ironically, each of these things is a direct consequence of some societal prejudice that was put into place about 20-30 years ago. Let's look at it closer:
1. Education is HIGHLY favored --even in the Church --and gosh darn it, it should be! But how is marriage a deterrent? I can understand how having children can put it off (I mean...hello!?), but honestly? My grades went waaaay up after I got married. My study habits improved --and I think it was strictly due to my marriage. I didn't have the same social life; there was no partying with the girls until late hours. I was home with my husband --I was eating better, getting more sleep, and studying more. I mean, how can that hurt education?? I'm baffled.
2. The children entering adult-hood now are the product of parents who gave them everything. Their parents grew up with nothing --so the parents got educations, got rich, and gave their kids everything they couldn't have. College Freshman are going out into the world with mom and dad still paying for everything. These kids don't know how to work, to organize, to manage time, to balance a checkbook, to wash dishes, cook meals, sew buttons, buy clothes, put gas in their cars (okay, that might be extreme), but do you see what I'm getting at?
Kids are being kids longer, because their parents won't let them grow up.
And what kid is thinking about marriage? If you had everything given to you by mom and dad, why would you give that up? Marriage equates responsibility, and these young adults aren't ready for --nor want --it.
3. Already discussed it to death above. :)
4. They are simply afraid. Of what? I'm not sure! Afraid of responsibility, life-long commitments, possible divorce, having children, facing a mortgage and/or car payment, being accountable to one person, leaving home, sex (or becoming monogamous), vulnerability, etc. The fear is real.
So, dear reader, give me your thoughts on all this. Remember, I'm not saying my situation is the only right one out there --just lending a voice to those who married early and don't regret it. What was your situation? And holy cow --how do you feel about these generations of kids who can't do anything for themselves?! Not that I'm biased, or anything...