A Letter to all the Young Brides
At the tender age of 22 and 24, my husband and I pledged to love and cherish each other in good times and bad for a lifetime. Bright-eyed and ready to take on the world together, we felt unstoppable in only the way the ignorance of youth can make you invincible.
Ten years later and the butterflies in my stomach are still there, but I can say the feeling of invincibility has matured into solidarity and the silent courage that happens when you know there is someone who always has your back.
Statistically, we are becoming more of a novelty as U.S. Census data shows that marriage rates were at an all-time low in 2011 with a little more than half (51 percent) of the U.S. population over the age of 18 married. Throw in the fact that we were five years younger than the national average (even in the South), and it was easy to see why so many jaws dropped when we announced our engagement.
Yes, we had the fearlessness of youth when we entered into our marriage a decade ago. But as we see the numbers of those willing to risk this commitment dwindle and the average marrying age on the rise, I wanted to list a few reasons in defense of getting married young.
We grew up together.
Both literally and figuratively. When you meet your future spouse at 17, it can be difficult to recognize that person almost fifteen years later. Maturing and growing into an adult, professional, spouse and parent is a constant journey and can be a harrowing one at times. It is nice to have someone remind you of that brave and lively person who’s energy still exists somewhere between long days at work, never-ending laundry and late-night stomach flus.
We experienced many of life’s milestones together.
First job, first house, first major credit card – the big stuff and even the small stuff in-between that makes up the most of our day-to-day lives, I’ve been able to do so with a partner, a cheerleader and a trusted confidante along the way. Even some of the less-friendly life experiences – like loss and financial stress – I’ve learned to grow from because there is someone else there to support me when I need it.
We learned the value of being unselfish and humble together.
When you celebrate so many of life’s milestones together, it’s inevitable that you must consider someone else when making certain decisions. As a result, you learn to become unselfish fairly quickly. In return you have someone to hold you accountable to your dreams and help make sure you achieve them.
We cultivated a foundation of gratitude.
Unless you have the good fortune (quite literally) of being born into the financial comfort of a trust fund or you invent a new way of communicating (like say, a social network), it’s no secret that starting out in your 20s you are in a less stable financial state than after a decade of working and saving. When you start out with virtually nothing, you learn to appreciate anything. We gained financial stability together and as a result, celebrating that success with the one that you started out with is that much sweeter.
We learned to love deeper.
Long gone are the days of lusting after one another. Don’t get me wrong, my heart still skips a beat when I look at my husband, but so much of that is in part to our journey together so far. I thought I could never love my husband more than when he suffered through my pregnancy hormones, but one look at him talking to our infant daughter the day she was born when he thought I was asleep, and well, not to get too sentimental on y’all … I fell even harder for the guy.
Marriage is tough – divorce rates show that clearly enough. It requires so much more than love. It requires you to show up every day in some way to show another person that they are worth sharing life with. It’s easy to understand why so many are waiting to tie the knot, but for this once young, twenty-something bride, I still think a young, successful marriage is not just for fairy tales.