We were babies… twenty-two years old, with master’s degrees but no jobs (thanks to the market after 9/11), and not a single set of “couple friends” when we got married fourteen years ago. Our parents thought we were foolish. Our friends thought we were crazy. The old lady helping us register for china at the department store assured us we were “doing the right thing” with a knowing nod and a stolen glance at my abdomen. But we knew, even then, what we were doing. We were young, and we were in love.
And we still are.
I suppose that’s the part that surprises most people when they see us together, especially after they hear how long we’ve been married. You see, most of our peers waited a lot longer to tie the knot. The few that didn’t wait ended up divorced just a few years later. I won’t pretend to hold the secret to a happy marriage after only fourteen years, but I will tell you why getting married young worked for us: we grew up together instead of growing apart.
We made mistakes together rather than independently.
We shared the excitement of first jobs, the disappointment of lost opportunities, and the challenge of becoming adults in an uncertain world.
We didn’t have bank accounts to merge, houses to sell, or hard-to-break patterns most acquire after living alone.
Instead, we had a clean slate with a story of our own to write.
But we also grew up because of each other. He pushed me to tackle goals I didn’t think I achieve. I supported him in ventures I didn’t even understand, but knew were immensely important to him and to his future. Our future. We made investments in each other’s lives in ways only young, childless couples can. We built a life together that we hoped would be hard to destroy.
And because we were so young, with no peers in a similar situation, we clung to each other during trying times. Our friendship and love for each other grew even stronger and we built a foundation for our marriage that has served us well during those times when our bond was tested. Like a crying baby and a cranky toddler just twenty months apart. Having kids, even five years into marriage, is life-altering and game-changing, but not deal-breaking… not for us. And now that first and second grader, who fight like cats and dogs, could send anyone driving their car into the river. But being able to share a knowing glance with the man who helped form me into a woman, the boy I grew up alongside, makes it all somehow okay. With him, the chaos makes sense.
Together, the impossible seems doable.
This marrying young thing, it’s not for everyone, and that’s okay. To each their own. But it can and does work for many, and I am proud to report that in our case, so far, so good!