Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Am I Too Young for Marriage?

I am 20 years old. And I will be getting married while I am still 20 years old.

I met my fiancé 7 months ago and have been dating him for 6 months. Last week, we got engaged. In 5 months we will be getting married.

Why the rush? you may be thinking. Well, that's just how we Mormons do. We date for a short period of time, and are engaged for an even shorter period of time. We get married young, and have lots of kids. So why the rush? A huge factor is my religious culture. But for those of you who do not see religious reasons as viable enough to make decisions, here are six other reasons I am getting married so young (listed as increasing in importance) :

6. Divorce is not an option.

The national divorce rate is 50%. But for Mormons who marry in a Mormon temple (which I will do), the divorce rate is between 15 and 20%. It is commonly believed that divorce is more likely the younger you get married; however, there is much research being conducted that shakes this notion.

I do not believe in divorce as a means to solve relationship problems. Of course, marriage is not easy. Of course problems will come up. But is divorce a way to solve those problems? Most people say yes, but I say no. Only in extreme circumstances do I believe divorce is necessary.

5.  I do not live my life the way an average American does.

In modern America, it is socially acceptable for people to move in with each other before marriage. Many people see this as "taking the next step" when their relationship becomes more serious. In addition, sexual intimacy is no longer reserved for marriage as it has been in the past. Now, people sleep together after knowing each other for only a couple hours. Many people sleep together while they are dating, and especially after they are engaged.

I seek to be the happiest I can be at all times. To do this, I know I must eliminate or avoid behaviors that will hinder my ability to be happy. That's the beauty of life. You get to experiment and observe and decide what will make you the most happy.  For example, I do not feel happy when I yell at my younger siblings. It makes me feel like dirt. So, I (try to) eliminate this behavior from my life. Likewise, I know that smoking will not make me happy. There are way too many physical problems that arise when you smoke. So, I have chosen to avoid that behavior.

I believe that sex before marriage will not lead to happiness. It may lead to momentary pleasure, but not long-lasting happiness. But more likely, it will lead to heartbreak, possibly pregnancy, possibly STDs, and possibly low self-esteem. I am not being naïve about this. I have seen many examples of how this behavior can ruin a person's life. In addition, I believe that cohabitation before marriage will not lead to happiness. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the national divorce rate in after the first 5 years of marriage is 20%. But for those who cohabitate first, that percentage leaps to 49%. A 1 in 2 chance of ending up in divorce is not good enough for me. There is more security by choosing to marry before living together.

4.  Although I am young, I have already experienced a lot.

By the time I am married, I will only have one semester of undergraduate school to complete. I have worked for the federal government for 2 summers, gaining valuable experience. I have held 5 jobs since I was 16 years old. By the time I am married, I will have travelled to 12 countries around the globe. I have developed many skills, including piano performance, singing, painting, sculpting, drawing, skiing, wakeboarding, baking, cooking, researching, writing, running, and biking. I have lived over 2,000 miles away from my family and my hometown for 2 years. I know what I want out of life. I have learned that my happiness is not dependent on other people. I am happy being myself.

I have also had a lot of dating experience. I have been romantically involved with over 30 guys. I have had 5 and a half boyfriends. I dated one guy for 2 years, and another for 9 months. I have been cheated on, I have been deceived, and I have been lied to. I have dated some not-so-good guys, but I have also dated some excellent guys. It has taken me a lot of guys to learn all the dating lessons I needed to learn. I made a spreadsheet of all the guys I have dated and rated their qualities. I gave them a score based on whether they fulfilled the requirements on what I am looking for in a spouse. I then created a graph correlating the time I dated the guy and their score. Over time, the scores have increased dramatically. Thus it can be concluded that I know what I am looking for in a guy and I can properly choose my eternal companion.

3.  I am not giving up my potential as an individual because I am getting married.

When I am married, I will still be me. I will still have qualities and weaknesses. I will still love the same things. I will still have the same hopes and dreams. I'm not losing anything by getting married. I am only enhancing my life. Nothing will change except for the fact that I will be much poorer and I will be living with a man. I think both will be great learning experiences.

2.  I have found my dream guy.

Imagine this: you are a pretty princess who has been waiting to find her prince charming. One day, your prince charming does come and he sweeps you off your feet. He is everything you ever imagined.  He proposes that you marry and live happily ever after. But instead you say that you want to be independent for longer. You want to live your own life before you have to worry about settling down. He gives you some time, but eventually he finds another princess because you wouldn't commit to him. Then you have to settle down with another prince who isn't nearly as good as your prince charming.

I have been lucky enough to find my dream guy this early in life. Jason is literally everything I ever wanted, and then some more. I do not think it would be wise for me to just let him go.

Of course, I believe it is absolutely essential for people to be strong as an individual before marrying. You need to learn who you are and what you want before you commit to marriage. Thus, it is not prudent for many people to marry young. But some people have a strong sense of themselves early on, and I think it is safe for them to marry if that is the case.

1.  I have found true love.

My fiancé and I have the perfect relationship, if I do say so myself. It is laid-back and easy-going. We know when to be serious, but more often we just have fun. We always make time for each other. Our relationship is built on strong trust for each other. Communication between us is free and open. We don't keep anything from each other, and we don't feel the need to. Everything we do is in the pursuit of making the other one happy. We put each other's needs before our own. We always build each other up and never ever tear each other down.  We never raise our voices at each other. We have never had a fight. We do disagree about things, but we present our arguments in a calm, non-defensive way. I'll be the first to admit that I am not the easiest person to get along with. I have been in enough relationships to know that by now, there is usually a fight that has happened. But not in my current relationship.

Jason balances me and completes me. When I am dramatic, he is calm. When I am sad, he comforts me. When I don't know what to say, he finds the words. When I am scared, he makes the fears melt away. When I laugh, he makes me laugh harder. When I am happy, he multiplies my happiness.

At the end of the day, I want nothing more than to be with him. No matter how terrible the day has gone, he always ensures that I end the day with a smile on my face. I am a lucky woman to be blessed with such a wonderful companion.


So am I too young to get married? I don't think so. Maybe you haven't been convinced. That's okay. Ultimately, it is only my opinion that matters since I am the one making the decision. But I know I won't regret it.

1 comment:

  1. Holly I love to read your blog. You will make a wonderful wife, mother, Young Women leader and on and on. I am so excited to have you as a daughter-in-law. (daughter) Love ya, Kolleen