I met my husband when I was 17 years old. I was not pursuing a boyfriend or love interest, it just sort of happened. Just like the Army just sort of took him away from me for 9 months. James and I had “dated” for two months before his deployment. I use the term dated loosely, because we were always with my family and only saw each other a total of four times before I had to say goodbye. Through the handful of care packages sent, 1,000’s of texts sent back and forth, and late night skypes we prevailed the deployment: together. But, that is a whole other story!
When he returned from his deployment, the plan was for him to stay in Texas so we could start our future together. I was going through my first semester of college and he was going through jobs just to get by. We found out this last deployment had made him eligible to go to college for free and he already had a year in before this last deployment. I made the executive decision to have him go back to school, for this would help in the long run. So, there we were again getting ready to be a part for another length of time. One day, it dawned on me, I cannot go through this again; I won’t let distance separate us anymore. With that, I enrolled into the university and he proposed to me on Christmas.
We quickly realized we could save a lot of money if I was an instate student, so therefore we had a very rushed, quick wedding. Before you start thinking we married just for that, you are wrong! We already planned to get married soon (he already had a ring) this just rushed us in the way we did not have a big wedding with everyone there. We had a justice of the peace marry us in Utah, the only family attending was his parents. This was not the wedding I had imagined, my own parents weren't able to be there. But even then, knowing I was marrying my best friend eased my worries.
I became a bride at the tender age of 18 years old. Our relationship had already gone through so much, but it could never have prepared me for marriage. Being married is completely different from being in a relationship. You make decisions together, you no longer have to search for happiness and love, and you get to share your life with the person who means the most to you. Being young has probably made me more vulnerable to difficulties, so through what I have learned thus far, I hope I can share some lessons with you. First, you both need to establish your position within your religion. I was baptized in a Catholic church, but I attended Methodist church for the majority of my existence. My husband has been LDS (Mormon) all of his life. Even with a different religious background, we still had the same foundation, our love for Jesus. I believe being on the same page religious wise, truly strengthens your relationship. Religion gives the establishment of expected morals and values one should uphold. Establishing this from the beginning of your relationship will give you the certainty that you and your partner share the same future goals, like how you will raise a family.
Another huge feat to overcome is patience. Not having experience cohabiting before, I had to learn to be patient in every aspect. In the same sense, he had to learn to be patient with my (occasional) stubbornness and lack of understanding in certain areas. But that’s just it, we are both learning together and have gained patience every day. Not getting stressed over little things is easier said than done. In the moment, whatever you are stressed about may feel impossible to overcome. Allowing each other the space to “cool off” and reevaluate the situation will make sure you both get your thoughts aligned.
“Don’t you think you are too young?” “How do you know he’s the one?” “Getting married is like leaving the party early!”
Don’t you love these common assumptions? 60% of young marriages end in failure, no worries I am well aware of the risk I took. Getting married, to me, was about sharing my life with him. I knew from the moment we met I wanted to spend forever with him. For me, being married is waking up to your best friend every single morning. It is being yourself completely and holding nothing back. Marriage is the most fun, exhilarating, scary, and rewarding thing two humans can partake in. I knew he was the one when we met, why prolong sharing our futures together? Sure, not everyone is going to understand this and I don’t expect you too. My decisions I make are just that: mine. Living is all about taking chances, learning from things, and growing as a person. I am fortunate enough where I get to share my life experiences, the good and the bad, with my husband. Getting married is like leaving the party early, only you are going home with your best friend, changing into comfy clothes and watching Netflix. If that is a bad thing, then I don’t know what good is!
I am not going to call myself an expert on marriage, because in the end who is? No one can tell you your marriage is perfect or imperfect, because they are not the ones in it. Marriage is difficult no matter what age you are, it is how you handle the difficulties that makes it a strong marriage. I am still learning and growing every single day, but that is the great part about it. I hope what you take from this is this: Marriage is a beautiful thing. Once you find your other half, you will know. Marriage is not something you can be completely prepared for. If you set too high of expectations for it, you won’t allow yourself the small, simple successes within your marriage.