When I was 18 years old, I became engaged to Marc, who was 23 at the time. Despite our absolute love for one another, we met with a lot of resistance. I expected everyone to be excited and to tell me “Congratulations!” But when I told people that we were getting married, the most common response was “Why?”
Watching the new MTV show “Engaged and Underage” brought back a lot of memories for me. As Lauren and David went through the trials of getting married at a young age, I remembered going through many of the same things myself. When Lauren’s brother said that all of his friends didn’t approve of her marriage and just wanted to know, “Why,” I felt the same frustration I felt back then.
Frequently Asked Questions
I would like to take a moment to respond to some of the questions that people have asked me about marrying young. If you are underage (18-21) and considering getting married, or if someone you love is engaged and underage, then hopefully this will help make sense of it all.
Why did I want to get married when I was 19 years old? For the same reason that any other person wants to get married- because I loved Marc and I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. Aren’t all women looking for commitment? So many women struggle with getting the man of their dreams to commit, yet the man of my dreams was ready to settle down for life. Why wait?
Do you feel like you gave up a lot getting married so young?
I will admit that I occasionally look at my friends’ lives and the things they have done, like spending 6 months in Europe or graduating college on time, and I get a tad bit jealous. The jealousy never lasts long though, because realistically, I haven’t given up much. Sure, I can’t just run off to Europe on a whim, because I have to consult my husband first, but if it was something we both wanted to do, we could still do that. Just because we are married doesn’t mean that we are prevented from doing anything spontaneous that young people do. We don’t own a home; there is no more tying us down than single young people.
Plus, people often think that getting married young means giving up your own hopes and dreams and career, and that is absolutely not true. My husband and I both finished our Bachelor’s degrees while we were married, and we are pursuing our dream careers. Marc has been a youth pastor for the past five years, and I had the opportunity to write for a local newspaper during my college years. This fall, I plan to start teaching in a high school, something I have always dreamed of doing. Getting married didn’t really mean giving up anything.
Don’t you feel like you missed out on being young?
Absolutely not! It always baffles me when people act like getting married suddenly changes who you are. Just because I changed from a Miss to a Mrs doesn’t mean that I suddenly aged. I still did all of the same young college girl things my friends did, but at the end of each night, I’d crawl into bed with my hubby. In the past three years of my marriage, I have spent a lot of time hanging out with my friends. Sometimes it’s just me and the girls, and other times my husband and other friends join us. We go to Hollywood, go to parties, and go to the beach. We took a Spring Break style trip to Mexico, just the girls. We go shopping, go out to eat at midnight, and all the other normal young person things. I did not miss out on being young. In fact, I think I might have enjoyed it more because I didn’t have to focus on the frustrating world of dating.
Did you get married just to have sex?
Because my husband and I are Christians and waited until we were married to have sex, people often asked us if we felt like we got married just to have sex. That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard! Getting married is a huge commitment and a big decision, and not something I would do just for some physical pleasure. It is also important to note that my religion also makes getting divorced a huge no no, so I certainly thought long and hard before promising “Till death do us part.” If I had gotten married just to have sex, I don’t think we would still be happily married.
The Many Benefits of Getting Married Young
For some reason, the general population seems to think that getting married young is a terrible thing. I personally have found that there are many wonderful benefits of getting married young. (Disclaimer: I am not suggesting that you get married just to reap these benefits, because you should only get married if you are really ready.) Here are some of the things that I have found beneficial about getting engaged when I was underage.
> Financial Benefits
Financially, getting married has made things much easier for us. Filing as a couple has certainly increased our refunds, especially because we still get to deduct our school expenses. Also, both of us were ready to move out of our parents’ houses, but financially we would not have been able to do this on our own. When we first got married, we got a cheap studio. The expenses were minimal and very manageable, considering we were both bringing home a decent income for how young we were.
> Time Together Before Becoming Parents
I always knew that I wanted to be a young mom, because my parents were young when they had me. I loved having the youngest parents of all my friends, because my parents were the coolest and had the most energy. I wanted my kids to be able to have young parents too.
Last summer, I gave birth to my first child. I was only 22 at the time, but my husband and I had been married for almost three years. Getting married young meant we had three years to solidify our marriage before having kids. It was three years that we got to just be Mr. and Mrs. Mohr, before being Mom and Dad. During that time we threw parties, went on vacations, hung out with friends as often as possible, and enjoyed dating and romance.
This was an important time for us, and I am glad that we got to have that time before becoming parents, yet I am also glad that I became a mom at only 22 years old. Getting married at 19 years old gave me the best of both worlds in this case.
> Growing Up Together
Some of my older extended family members made comments about Marc and I being “just kids” when we got married. I recognize that in many ways we were just kids, but I don’t think that is necessarily a bad thing. We have grown up together. At 19 years old, I still had some of life’s tough times to experience and some of life’s tough lessons to learn. The beautiful thing is that we have gone through all of this together. We learned some tough lessons about finances, but we learned them together and it served to strengthen our relationship. We dealt with deaths in our families for the first time, and in both cases we were there to pull each other through. We have dealt with tough times in our careers, bad bosses and layoffs, and we have kept each other strong through these experiences. Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and I think this is true for our relationship.
In premarital counseling, Marc and I were told that to love is to know. If you really love someone, you want to know everything about them. Knowing that you are loved is knowing that you are… well… known. I love the fact that Marc knows everything about me, even the bad stuff, and he still loves me. Having known each other since we were teenagers means that we really know a lot about each other. Neither of us really has an adult life that each other doesn’t know about, and there is something really special about that.
Years ago, even in my grandparents’ time, everyone used to get married young and no one thought anything negative of it. I have met many older couples who were married when they were teenagers, even before they were 18 years old, and stayed happily married. Not that much has changed since then. If you are willing to grow up together, stick with each other, and support each other in big life decisions, then getting married young can be a wonderful thing. It takes some people a lifetime to find their soulmate; if you find yours early on, why not embrace it?