“are you pregnant?”

In the last few weeks quite a few girls I went to High School with got engaged and/or married.

My graduating class are all around 25 years old now; we graduated in 2007. It’s a fairly average and appropriate age in our society to get engaged/married.

Seeing all of the positive comments on Facebook with each announcement; “congratulations!” and “I’m so happy for you”, make me think back to my own engagement and wedding.

I shared my feelings on a Military S/O Facebook page; how seeing those comments makes me a little sad since the majority of the comments I got when I was engaged were “why?” and “are you pregnant?”

The most common response I got form the other spouses was “they are haters!” and “they are just jealous!”

I disagree.

I do not think that the people who made those comments to me when I got engaged at 19 were “haters”.

First off, 19 is very young in our society to get married. Where as 25 is acceptable and average. So of course the comments will be different.

Looking back at the responses I received when I announced my engagement, I see two different motives to the negative comments:

#1 – people my own age who are nowhere near that phase in their life and simply cannot understand why I would want to get engaged.

I was a Sophomore in college when I got engaged. Most of my friends were single and focusing on school. Those who were in relationships were not living with their significant other and not planning to until after graduation. Marriage was a much further off event in their life plan.

So when they asked me “why?” when I told them I was getting engaged; I don’t think that they were jealous or “haters”. They simply didn’t understand why and have no desire to be in my shoes.

Now that I am 25, most girls my age would love to be engaged. So when my former classmates post their ring pictures on Facebook the comments of “I’m so happy for you” are genuine. Those women would love to be the one with the ring.

#2 – adult family friends and family members who are worried that I am making a mistake and don’t want me to be hurt.

It took me a while to realize that when my parents and other relatives did not immediately break into “congratulations” when I announced my engagement, it was coming from a place of love.

They were older. Had been married, divorced and married again. They were looking at me as a child in their eyes, just barely out of my teens. They saw me as someone to be protected from pain and hurt. To be protected from making mistakes.

I’m 25 now. When I see girls who are 18/19 getting married, I think they are babies. I think that they might be making a mistake, and I want to protect them from that potential pain. I image my feelings are a small comparison to what my parents felt when their little girl decided to make such a life changing decision.

So as much as I am jealous of the positive comments that my cohort is receiving on their engagements and wedding; I get it. I understand that my age made the difference. They aren’t haters or jealous, they are just a reflection of the society that we live in. A society where there is an appropriate age to tie the knot, and an inappropriate age. I happened to fall into the latter.

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TBT: Engaged and Underaged

Although Jeremy and I didn’t consider ourselves “officially” engaged until after he asked my father for permission in December 2008, we bought the ring together the month before and I wore it on my left hand until we went home the following month. We told our local friends that we were engaged, but we didn’t announce it publicly or to our extended family until after my Dad gave his approval.

I was 19 at the time, and halfway through my sophomore year of college.

I was so excited to announce it to my friends at school because I was happy. I loved Jeremy and I wanted to be his wife.

I anticipated squeals of excitement and my girlfriends asking to see my ring. I imagined questions about when the big day was going to be and what colors I was going to pick.

Unfortunately that was not my reality.  Instead of “congratulations”, I mostly heard “why?” when I announced my engagement. “But you’re so YOUNG” normally followed the “why?” question. Included with looks of confusion.

I suppose I should have expected it.

I knew I was young to be getting married, I knew it was unconventional, but I had still expected people to be happy for me.

Looking back, I know that they were probably thinking one of two things.

First, for those who really cared about me, they were probably concerned and didn’t want me to make a mistake. It had been a quick engagement (6 months), and although I knew that Jeremy was an amazing guy and that our relationship was stable and full of love, they probably couldn’t see that from the outside. They were probably worried that I was going to quit school and get pregnant, giving up on my dreams.

Second, for those who were more “acquaintances”, I think they just couldn’t understand it because it was completely out of their reality. To the average 19 year old, marriage is not even on the radar. Even my friends who had been in long-term relationships weren’t thinking of getting engaged until after college. They just couldn’t comprehend it.

Sometimes I look back and wish I could have had the normal “happy” engagement. When my cousins got engaged at 24, just a few years older than I had been, they were greeted with enthusiastic responses of “congratulations!” and “we are so happy for you!”. I wish I could have had that.

Even after I got married (up until I was about 23) I still got the shocked “what!?” response when people found out that I was married. That shock often lead to speechlessness when I said that I had been married since I was 20.

I for one am happy to be almost 25 and no longer be greeted with shock when I tell people I am married. It’s nice to be “normal”. Being an outlier can be hard.

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Motherhood and Society

My cousin posted this article on Facebook yesterday, the title wasn’t very catchy or descriptive, so I didn’t read it. Then another friend posted it on the same day. My rule on Facebook is that if multiple people post the same link, it’s probably good enough to read lol.

So I read it, and I loved it. I’m not religious, and I don’t plan on having children “young”, but I thought it was a very powerful and interesting article.

It reminded me of my view on young marriage, and how society today views marriage as something you do after you’ve “lived” a full adventurous life.

I had never thought of applying that same idea to having children. I plan on waiting till I am in my late 20’s to have children because I want to finish college, establish my career, be financially stable and enjoy a care-free and child-free life. I guess in this particular area, I do follow society norms.

And then I remembered back to my early 20′s and the prevailing culture that said – get your college degree before you have babies, travel a little before you have babies, your body is going to completely change after you have babies, have fun and live it up before you have babies, get yourself financially secure before you have babies.  Be a responsible adult and wait wait wait to have those children…

We live in a selfish culture where having children is a huge inconvenience.  I mean – how am I supposed to fit in aerobics, spa days, girls shopping trips and “me time” when I have children that need me 24/7?

Many people would say that getting married young causes you to miss out on life as well. And in some ways it does. Once you are married it’s not all about you and your wants and needs, it’s about the “us”. And in a “selfish culture”, that might be something people try to avoid, because it is an “inconvenience” to their independence.

I’ve never viewed marriage that way, but I have viewed motherhood that way. Not that I don’t want to be a parent, but because I see it as a HUGE lifestyle change that will make me give up the life I have now. And I don’t think I’m ready for that yet.

But maybe if I thought about motherhood in a different way, not focusing on what I am going to lose, but what I am going to gain, I would feel differently. I would challenge the norm that society has placed on women.

Motherhood is not a hobby, it is a calling. It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in. It is what God gave you time for.

 

Married Young

I saw this article posted on Facebook by a friend of mine, and the title grabbed my attention enough to read it: Married Young: I got married at 23. What are the rest of you waiting for?

Now, I got married young (a few months after I turned 20), but right off the bat I thought the title came across rude. Everyone meets their parter at different times in their life, and everyone makes the choice to get married at different times in their life. There is no “right” age to get married and there may be a lot of reasons why a person may decide to wait on marriage.

The article itself was also one-sided and came across very pretentious, in my opinion.

However, the one thing I did like about it and took away was her argument that society seems to believe that marriage is the end of your pre-adult life. It’s the finish line that you get to cross after you’ve graduated college, partied to your hearts content, established your career, bought a house, etc.

And I think that is a common misconception. Marriage to me isn’t about age, having a college degree or how much you make at your job. Marriage is an expression of love. It’s a public commitment to the person you’ve chosen to spend the rest of your life with.

Regardless of if you are 18 or 68, marriage should be on the table if you feel like you’ve found the right person.

Yes, I know there are people who wait on marriage for financial reasons, their parents are supporting them through college, or they are covered by their health insurance, etc. But in general, there is no reason why a couple can’t continue to work towards their individual goals (college, work, etc) and be married at the same time.

I married my husband during my Sophomore year of college. I graduated two years later and next month I will be graduating with my Master’s degree. Being married hasn’t kept me from accomplishing any of my own goals and career aspirations.

I honestly don’t really see the connection between the two. I married my husband because I love him and I wanted to express that in the highest socially accepted form: marriage. I didn’t need to graduate college or start my career to know that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him.

I am in no way saying that everyone should get married young. However, what I am saying is that making the choice to get married isn’t related to your status as a college student, non-homeowner, or any other material aspect of your life. And that getting married down not mean that you can’t accomplish all those things at the same time.

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Young Marriage

I read a blog recently call “In Defense of Young Marriage”, and it felt like I was reading my own engagement story. The negative comments from people, questioning if I was pregnant, and the general doubt that young marriages will not last.

One point that really resonated with me was her description of people’s attitude about what a young adult should be doing with their life.

Somewhere along the way, young adulthood has transformed into an extended adolescence. It is expected that I need to experiment, roam free, party…’Find myself’.

There’s two assumptions in such an attitude that I dislike. Firstly, the assumption that being young goes hand in hand with reckless and ‘experimental’ behaviour, and that anything done in these years is of no importance, but merely testing the waters for ‘proper’ adulthood. Secondly, that any of these things would be impossible with a spouse…as though by sharing my life with (my spouse) I lose my personhood. As though I have no room to learn, grow, change, adventure, explore, or anything else.

I loved the blog post and I was originally going to make this into a “young marriage is awesome” post, but I’ve decide that it wouldn’t really be an accurate reflection of my feelings.

I agree with all of the authors points, I absolutely love being married to Jeremy and don’t regret marrying him when I was 20; but I can’t categorize all young marriages as “defendable”.

In the four years that Jeremy and I have been married, I have seen many young marriages fail. I have seen many unhappy marriages and I have seen infidelity.

So while I don’t think getting married young dooms a marriage to fail, I am no longer defensive when people caution young couples to take it slow and I understand now why people had such a negative reaction to my young engagement.

The person I was at 19 is not the person I am now at 24..and that has only been 5 short years. People change, and it takes work to make sure that you and your partner grow together and not apart.

When I say ‘work’, I don’t mean fighting. I mean putting in the effort to make your marriage the best that it can be and working jointly towards fixing any crack that may appear in the foundation of your marriage.

Marriage takes so much more than just love.

So all those comments that I heard when I announced I was engaged at 19…I get it now. I understand that the people who love me were concerned about me and didn’t want me to get hurt.

Does being 18 mean that your marriage will fail? No, but it also doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to succeed.

I’ve been one of the lucky young couples who has a happy successful marriage. However, so many factors go into our marriage that it is impossible for me to put sole responsibility on age, or any other aspect of our lives.

I will end by quoting another part of the post that resonated with me, and this is a point that  I can “defend” whole heartedly.

“Being married young is a blessing and not a trap. I am excited to learn and grow together with my husband, through all seasons of life. I am excited that marrying young will give us the chance of celebrating our fiftieth wedding anniversary one day, and having a lifetime of memories to look back on. I love that by marrying young I am able to grow into myself and my adulthood with him by my side…with our lives organically blossoming entwined, rather than trying to meld two separate lives together later on.”

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