Back in high school, I would have never thought that I would be ready to get married to someone at the age of 20. But shortly after graduation, I met my now fiance. We lived together for about 2.5 years, and then he ended up proposing. Even though we waited a couple years before getting engaged, I knew a few months into the relationship that he was the person I was most certainly going to marry.
While the vast majority of our family and friends have been happy and beyond excited for us, there have been a select few who have shown me some concern about our age and this commitment we have made. While these reasons might make perfect sense to some, I want to debunk some of the most common myths about getting married young, and why being engaged at 20 years old doesn't necessarily set you up for failure.
1. You're too young.
Most certainly, this is the most common thing that comes with these misconceptions. When people hear that a 20 year old is engaged, they automatically picture two young adults with baby face at the altar. While getting married at a younger age might be a less common practice than some are used to, it does not necessarily mean that they are too young. When you think about it, there is no concrete age that deems itself to be the acceptable marriage age. When do you stop being too young? 23? 25? Something that you must keep in mind is that two adults are perfectly capable of loving, supporting, and committing to one another through the good and the bad. If they can do that, then they are not too young.
2. You can't afford it.
This is another big one. For some reason, money seems to be a subject that too many people believe young people are not capable of understanding. A lot of people assume that if you are young, in college, and engaged, then you are incapable of being able to afford something as expensive as a wedding. The thing to remember about this point is that you are never to young to know how to responsibly save and invest money. Since being together, my fiance and I have been able to afford a few expensive vacations, a nice apartment, and tons of pets (which every pet owner knows isn't cheap!) While I know that these things don't compare to a wedding investment whatsoever, the point that I am trying to make is that hard work and responsible spending are very achievable things for a 20 year old to do. Better yet, being able to responsibly invest with your significant other without having huge disagreements and pickles about money is a great sign of a solid relationship. This is something that takes a lot of couples a lot of work to accomplish. Luckily, my fiance and I have had our share of financial stress, but we have been able to solve all of them together without ending them with full out fights.
3. You are being rash, and need to figure your life out first.
This is yet another huge myth that comes with being in college. People somehow assume that when you are in your 20's and in college, you probably don't know what you are planning to do in the future. While this is true in many, many cases, there are college students who know what they are doing, where they are going, and how they are going to get there. Since my fiance and I have known for a pretty long time that we were going to end up spending our lives together, we started mapping out our goals and future a long time ago. We discussed not only our personal goals, but our goals as a couple. If you are planning on marrying someone, regardless if you are engaged to them, and you are open about it to each other, then there is absolutely nothing wrong with having these discussions together and including one another in your plans. If talking about the future and including each other in it makes you uncomfortable or unsure about whether or not you can actually see the other person in your plans, then you probably aren't ready to get married. But, if it is something that you see as feasible, desirable, and worthy, then go for it. This is not a matter of age. I am fortunate enough to be engaged to someone who has already started their career and has the ambition to make those sort of commitments before he graduated. These sort of things are frequent discussions that we have, and it makes me nothing less than confident about our relationship.
4. It must be because you are pregnant.
Sometimes, this one just makes me chuckle. It truly makes me sad that since early pregnancy is commonly followed by impromptu marriage, lots of people jump to the conclusion that the couple is having a baby, because that is not always the case. My fiance and I have certainly talked about children before, but we are in no way ready for parenthood. Being married and being a parent are very different things, and getting married does not automatically mean that a baby is just around the corner.
5. Your parents must still be supporting you
While our parents and our families have been supporting us mentally and emotionally even to this day and are just wonderful in general, my fiance and I are both financially independent people. Sure, we needed some help more in the beginning of our relationship, but that was before we even began talking about marriage. We pay our bills, buy our food, and cover our life necessities with our own money. We have taken turns switching jobs, working full time while in school, having periods of unemployment, and everything in between. But, during all of these times, we always made sure that we had money. Right now, I am actually unemployed because of my school load. But, I made sure to save up a ton of money, and dip into my college saving before making this choice. Being young and in college has never been an excuse for us to not support ourselves. If you are constantly running into problems such as an empty bank account, or your card declining, then of course you should prioritize your needs and take care of yourself in those areas first. But, there are 20 year olds who have been living independently since they moved out at 18, and enjoy being financially stable. Assuming that a young, engaged couple gets all of their money from mom and dad is a pretty rash and unfair judgement. More times than not, I can almost guarantee you that such a couple is confident in their financial independence.
6. You'll stop pursuing one another.
This is one of the sadly negative connotations that comes with the word "marriage." People have such a negative idea that marriage gets boring and once you are married, the progression of your relationship comes to an abrupt stop. I just want to make sure you all know that this isn't always true and should never happen. While my fiance and I obviously aren't married yet, we have committed a lot to one another already. We live together, pay bills and handle finances together, and in general do life together. It's been this way for a while now, and we have in no way stopped pursuing, surprising, or advancing with one another. I can honestly never see us having a boring marriage, because that just isn't who we are as as people. Marriage should always be an adventure, and adventures are meant to be exciting. I know that while things will definitely slow down after a while, we will never stop making one another happy. If the thought of an empty marriage is something that you fear may happen with your significant other at any point of your relationship, then that is certainly something you need to think about.
7. You'll loose your friends.
Only if you make the choice to. I say this because I really do not believe that marriage means you have to stop hanging out with your buddies, and if it does happen, it is preventable. This is just a matter of organizing your priorities. If your friends are important to you, then there is no reason for you to distance yourself from them just because you got married. Sure, some things may change, but solid friends will continue to support the both of you through your marriage. My fiance and I share a lot of our friends, and I cannot see us distancing ourselves from them any time in the future. We have a ton of fun together, and us being married will definitely not come between that.
Also, I think that loosing friends isn't something that comes with marriage more than it is something that comes with age. It happens. You get older, you move away, you have different priorities, and life just happens. It's just a matter of growing up.
8. You're only young once! Don't waste it!
This one just confuses me. One of the most common things that I have heard when it comes to young marriages is that since you are young, you should "see the world, explore new things, and discover yourself" before getting married. What confuses me is that I'm not sure how marriage supposedly ruins these possibilities. I am still going to be young whether or not I get married, that's just a fact. People have a negative perception that if you get married young, you are suddenly cut off from all fun things that come with being in your 20's. SO not true. You can still explore the world, try new things, go out and have fun! What makes a difference is that you can just bring your partner along for the ride. I for one cannot wait to travel the world, live in different places, take risks and have a blast with my fiance. Us being married will not destroy our youth.
9. Why the rush? Slow down!
Love this one. While younger married couples typically do get married a lot faster and sooner in their relationship than older couples do, it doesn't mean that they were in a rush to get there by any means. I honestly do not know a single young married or engaged couple who is making such a commitment because they just want to hurry up and get married already. I assure you that young couples make considerations and spend just as much time thinking about engagements as older couples do. We are getting married at a young age because we are mentally and physically prepared to make the commitments, sacrifices, decisions, and long-term promises that come with being married. This is because we are committed to one another and we love each other to a point where getting married isn't just something to check off of your life to do list, but it is something that will genuinely shape us into better people because we have that commitment to each other. NOT because we are rushing through these stages as fast as we can. If anything, the fact that we are getting married so young makes me happy to have found someone who I am willing to do all of this for so early in life. For this reason, I don't see any problem with getting married a little sooner than the norm.
10. It just won't last.
Look. We are at a point in society where separation and divorce are more common and normal than they should be. It is like this to such a degree that I think every couple has at least one person who thinks they will eventually break up or separate. This is something that is just a matter of fact and unfair opinion. But, to assume such a tragic future to a young married couple just because of their age is just wrong. What I want to say to people who make this kind of assumption about young couples is to consider other factors that lead to divorce other than age. Immaturity, unhealthy lifestyles, infidelity, and unwillingness to sacrifice. These are all factors that I believe contribute to temporary or unhealthy marriages more than age. If a couple treats each other well and is in a healthy, supportive, and committed relationship, then there is no need to make this conclusion. My partner and I work very hard on our relationship. What makes me so positive that we will be married for the rest of our lives is how well we really work together. We compromise and discuss rather than fight, we put little restrictions on each other to ensure a full and happy life for the other person, we do things for one another in a way to make the other person happy rather than out of obligation, we sacrifice for one another without hesitation, and we never take one another for granted. I am grateful to be in such a strong and healthy relationship with my soul mate, and I really hope that you all take the time to consider more reasonable things when it comes to young love.