Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Young and The Married

You’re married? And you’re how old? With one question, inevitably comes the other.

Yes, I get it. We are young, and while a large majority of our peers are still sampling the local nightlife, we have made a commitment to be with one another for the rest of our lives. And yes, this is a very big decision to make at a young age, but let me assure you it was not made on a whim or in a moment of dream-like fantasy.

Back in June, the Washington Post conducted a discussion with Authors Shannon Fox and Celeste Liversidge about their book "Last One Down the Aisle Wins" and the appropriate age for young women to get married. They discuss their theories that it takes a woman the large majority of her twenties to develop as a adult and be prepared for marriage. They argue "young people are staying in school longer, living at home longer and achieving true independence much later in life. We strongly believe that these days, you need to be able to stand on your own two feet (financially, physically and emotionally) before you're able to make a good choice in a partner or be a good partner. The best marriages are between two grown ups."

I agree with them on this point, it is important to be financially, physically and emotionally independent. But this is achieved at different times and in different ways of everyone's life. Further, because "young people" have been nurtured longer in their life, isn't it reasonable to argue that in many ways a good spouse can be a continuation of this support system? And if those support systems who "young people" are so dependent on are around throughout the marriage, this is an added tool when challenges do arise.

I’m not saying they are wrong, they are the experts, their arguments are based on strong research and they have many valid points. I’m just saying that theories and discussions like this create a stigma that everyone who gets married in their twenties is wrong and foolish for doing so. I believe it drastically generalizes what age really means in relationships.

To continue on the discussion of societal generalization, I talked to Mr. I about his take on this subject before writing the post. Something interesting that came up is that while he understands what I’m talking about (on our honeymoon we got a handful of surprised looks in regards to our young age), he did mention that it is not as big of an issue for him as it is me. Do people assume one day I fell head over my adorable high heels and said I do? Or, do they generalize that I relinquished my feminist independence, gave in too quickly, settled down and submitted the rest of my life as a just someone’s wife? (If they do, they got another thing coming…)

There was a time when being unmarried and in your twenties meant you were an “old maid.” And by no means is this the better way to approach the momentous life event, it just interesting to see how drastically society’s perceptions of marriage have changed in the past century. Based on decades of tradition, are we really getting married too young or are the other adults just putting it off longer and committing later in life?

This isn’t a debate about wrong or right. Both sides have valid points and years of data to back them up. My argument is that the age at which people get married cannot, and should not, be generalized.

We have friends from childhood, high school and college. It is perfectly acceptable to declare at any age that these people are going to be friends for life. So why can't we, at any age, take the one person who is our ultimate best friend in life as our spouse?

Finally, I believe at some point you have to just start living your life. We knew ourselves individually, ourselves as a couple, and we know our goals, dreams and desires. And while Fox and Liversidge may think we should still develop individually outside of marriage, we didn't want to just wait for a few more birthdays to get married. We didn't want to be one of those couples who USA Today highlighted because they have been dating for a decade (this topic is a different discussion for a different time).

So yes, we're young and we're married. And hopefully on our 30th year anniversary I'm going to show off my dance skills wearing a cute pair of heels while I can still bust a move.

1 comment:

  1. There are millions of couples who prove every day that societal norms of relationships are nothing more than false pressures. Whether a relationship will work or not is not at all contingent upon the assumptions of society and the mass media—so long as the couple realizes that the internal mechanisms are the most important. The true meter stick of a marriage is not polls or statistics or the glances of strangers, but the understanding you have of each other and of the commitments you made. Each relationship is unique and beyond comparison. Now that may be a crockpot of bullshit, as I am no closer to marriage than I am to becoming the next pope, but I know you two and I know that you both are smart enough to not get bogged down by social judgment. You two are—and will be—just fine.


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