Saturday, September 19, 2015

Young Marriage: Good or Bad?

It has come to the inevitable point in my life where seemingly everyone from my graduating class is getting married...except me. Don't get me wrong: there's no man in my life, and I currently have no desire for there to be one. So why is it such a big deal that everyone my age is getting engaged, having weddings, or already on baby #2? Because, wait for it... I'm 20.

One of my best friends from jr. high just married a young man she met in school. Ten more have become engaged to their high school sweetheart. One was already married before anyone had seen an engagement announcement (we're all still waiting to see if she was pregnant; scandalous gossip if I do say so myself). But all the comments I've seen or heard about each of these blossoming relationships swing one way or the other:

I am so happy for their blessed life together. I can't wait to have him as part of our family. 
or
What on this God green Earth is she doing getting married?! She's too freaking young! 

I know I'm not the only to blog about this, and certainly not the only young woman to think about it. I have seen lists of "Top 10 Things You Should Do As A Single Woman Prior To Getting Married," and "20 Things I Wish I Hadn't Given Up To Marry Young." In other words Beyonc√©, you can like it without putting a ring on it. Young marriage seems to be an all-or-nothing topic: you're for it or against it. There is no middle.

Personally, I'm all about the young single life. I am having the absolute time of my life planning my future around the dreams I have always had for myself, embarking on an unknown adventure without worrying about financial or romantic ties to someone or somewhere else. To me, it is absolutely ridiculous to marry at this age, when both of you are in school and unemployed, with no money to buy a house, no direction as to where jobs or family or life will take you. You don't know what's going to happen or where you're going to end up. Your life is not stable within itself, making it even less stable to share with another person. What might you have to give up for your spouse that you would not have given up otherwise? What might you have had the opportunity to create for yourself had you not tied yourself down this early? Even if I was dating the man I knew I was going to marry, marriage would not yet be on my radar. The fear of the unknown is something I want to conquer myself before inviting another person to share it with, or worse, relying on him to conquer it for me.

With that being said, some (certainly not all, but some) of the people getting married are some of the most logical, grounded, Christ-centered people I have ever known. It's not like they're all getting married because they thought it would be fun. Even though they are young, they fully expect challenges, fights, and the natural obstacles of life. They have made this very clear. They are prepared to take on everything that married life has to offer, and give up everything that married life requires.

Some people have met the person they know they are going to marry and are perfectly comfortable where they are. There isn't a lot of unknown for them because they are already content with their lives. Some people even like that unknown, and fear it less when they have their loved one by their side. Some people don't want to think about life tearing them apart and refuse to let it happen. Some people would decline a job offer, refuse to move, or spend money on certain things to ensure that they would stay with their loved one. Some people would prefer to build a life from scratch with a spouse, rather than building a life on their own and later inviting someone to share it.

So the question really isn't a matter of young marriage being good or bad. Marriage is not a debate topic. It's far less about what you should or shouldn't do, and far more about what is right for you. The age of marriage is strictly a matter of personal opinion, often depending on culture and generation. Some people invite adventure into their life through travel. Some do it through their work. And yes, some do it by marriage.

So let's praise the young marriages as much as we praise the old ones. There are a lot of things that will make a marriage fail, but age is not one of them. Maturity might be, but age is not. Don't be so quick to get those two confused.

I will attend these weddings as a guest and friend who is overjoyed for the next step in their life, proceeding to exit the church and make my own plans for my future the way I want to make them. I invite you to do the same. It is true that these couples will face challenges unique to young marriage. But you will face just as many challenges unique to single life. Every lifestyle comes with joys and trials, so it is important to choose one that is right for you. For some it might be marriage, and that's not bad. For me, it is anything but marriage. That's not bad either. A lifestyle choice is just that: a choice. There are not always right or wrong choices. They are not always good or bad. They are simply choices, and they will impact your life far differently than they would if you had chosen the others.

Some will choose marriage. Some will not. But there is no reason to think the married woman will be any more or less happy than the single one. Chances are, they will both be immensely happy, if they chose the life that was important to them. God has a plan for all of us. Don't be so quick to judge someone because His plan for them was different than His plan for you.

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