I Got Married at 23. What Are the Rest of You Waiting For?

What women really think about news, politics, and culture.
April 1 2013 12:12 PM

Marry Young

I got married at 23. What are the rest of you waiting for?

(Continued from Page 1)

I started out thinking this way, too. When I was entering college, my philosophy was “men die, but your college degree is forever.” I imagined myself an independent, spirited sort of woman. I wrote off the girls I knew from high school in Texas who didn’t finish college or who selected their universities based on their boyfriends’ plans. Getting a “ring by spring” was nice, I supposed, but it wasn’t a grand achievement. Getting a 4.0—now we were talking.

I wasn’t anti-marriage. I thought I would get married, but it would be later after a flurry of accomplishments. When David and I started dating, his senior year and my sophomore year, I worried he would derail my education. He definitely had all the qualities I wanted in a man: intelligence, ambition, good character, plus he was a true gentleman. Still, I asked him, “You’re not asking me out because you want to get married by graduation?” This was a Christian college we went to, so my question was not out of bounds. I still regret those words. Looking back, my artificial, rigid timeline of success almost derailed my real happiness.

What I did not realize was how thoroughly marriage would jump-start our independence. On paper, our unmarried peers looked more carefree. But many of them also relied on their parents to supplement their income, drove home for long weekends and holidays, or stayed on their parents’ health insurance and cellphone plans (even though they had decent jobs!). I put David on my health insurance. We bought our own family cellphone plan and Netflix account. When we visited our parents once a year, we paid for the plane tickets and still did our own laundry. We loved our parents and siblings, but marriage made us realize that we were now a separate family unit.  

Months into our marriage, my grandfather died. I was crushed. The funeral was stressful. I wasn’t able to explain to David the backstories on everyone in my extended family: He couldn’t remember who was married to whom and certainly couldn’t tell my identical twin uncles apart. Still, David comforted me, navigated the family drama, grounded me, and made me thankful for the promise of a long marriage.

Advertisement

Sure, being married young entailed sacrifices. We had to be particularly careful about money. David took the bar exam shortly before our first wedding anniversary. This should have warranted a lavish vacation: Most new lawyers celebrate finishing the bar exam with a trip to Europe or Asia. That was too expensive. Instead, we pricelined a hotel five subway stops away and had dinner at Pizzeria Paradiso. For the anniversary portion of the celebration, we special-ordered a cake from our favorite bakery and recounted our favorite memories from our first year of marriage.

Sometimes people delay marriage because they are searching for the perfect soul mate. But that view has it backward. Your spouse becomes your soul mate after you've made those vows to each other in front of God and the people who matter to you. You don’t marry someone because he’s your soul mate; he becomes your soul mate because you married him.

Marriage doesn’t require a big bank account, a dazzling resumé, or a televised wedding—it requires maturity, commitment, and a desire to grow up together. My husband and I married young. We don't have a fairytale marriage or a storybook ending because our story continues. Going forward, we anticipate new challenges and joys: children, new jobs, new hobbies, new cities, family weddings, and family funerals. There will be things we can’t predict. But one thing is for certain: We are committed to each other and we will grow through them. We don't have the details of the later chapters, but we know who the two main characters are.

Read Amanda Marcotte's rebuttal to marrying young at XX Factor.

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

It’s Legal for Obama to Bomb Syria Because He Says It Is

Divestment Is Fine but Mostly Symbolic. There’s a Better Way for Universities to Fight Climate Change.

I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights

Even though I know I’m going to get flak for it.

It Is Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

Why Are Lighter-Skinned Latinos and Asians More Likely to Vote Republican?

How Ted Cruz and Scott Brown Misunderstand What It Means to Be an American Citizen

  News & Politics
Over There
Sept. 23 2014 12:16 PM Another Intervention?    Anti-ISIS airstrikes aren’t about keeping Americans safe.  
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 23 2014 10:03 AM Watch Steve Jobs Tell Michael Dell, "We're Coming After You"
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 23 2014 11:33 AM High-Concept Stuff Designed to Remind People That They Don’t Need Stuff  
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 23 2014 11:13 AM Why Is This Mother in Prison for Helping Her Daughter Get an Abortion?
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 23 2014 11:48 AM Punky Brewster, the Feminist Punk Icon That Wasn’t
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 23 2014 10:51 AM Is Apple Picking a Fight With the U.S. Government? Not exactly.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 23 2014 11:00 AM Google Exec: Climate Change Deniers Are “Just Literally Lying”
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.