I'm Engaged at 19 -- And It Has Nothing To Do With You

Last Saturday, my boyfriend of a year proposed to me. He asked me to marry him along the Jordan River where we had our first date last summer and I cried hysterically. Last Friday, I was stressing over my two upcoming midterms and thinking about buying some Galaxy buds. Now I have a sapphire and a wedding to plan in three months. 

I know being married at 19 isn’t uncommon in Utah. I’m sure if you’ve lived in Utah for longer than 3 months, you know what I’m saying and you already have a young friend who’s married. But I never envisioned myself being one of those girls that got married at 19. One of my reasons for going to the U over BYU was because I didn’t want to marry until I finished my undergrad. Yet here I am, as a sophomore, getting hitched. 

I already know what you’re thinking, too. Why doesn’t she just get married later? Doesn’t she want to enjoy being single for longer? Why get married at 19? Don’t you want to finish your degree? When three girls from my high school class were married last year, I was thinking the exact same things. I couldn’t help but wonder why. Why were all these girls getting married so young when they have the rest of their life ahead of them to get married?

Everyone not in young marriage seems to have the answer to why people marry young and each of these answers have a range of truth to them. Some people say you marry young because you’re irrationally in love with someone and I have seen more than a few instances of this phenomenon. Others will say that people, girls especially, marry young to avoid completing a degree or working a job. In regards to Mormon culture that heavily prevalent in Utah, people will say LDS couples marry quickly so they can have sex once they’re married and I would agree this contributes to many young LDS marriages in Utah. But I will say, if you’re getting married just so you can have sex, you definitely have bigger problems to deal with. 

For those of you who don’t understand or falsely believe you understand why people marry young, let me give you my two cents (which is all I’m financially able to give you as a now engaged 19 year old student with a part-time job). I simply love my fiance. Now, that I know that sounds dumb. Lots of girlfriends love their girlfriends or boyfriends and lots of boyfriends love their girlfriends or boyfriends. But I love my fiance. I no longer desire dating or being with anyone else. I genuinely want to hear about his day and what he’s doing. I feel like a piece of me is missing when we have a few days away from each other. This sounds like obsession at 19, but if I was 28, this would be considered healthy dependency on a partner. Really, I’m just at a point in my life where marriage makes sense for me- I’m close to finishing my degree thanks to an abundance of AP credit in high school, my fiance and I have enough savings to pay for a wedding and enough income to support ourselves, and I know we are meant to get married anyway -- so what if it's a few years earlier than anticipated?

Though marriage at 19 can make finances and school more difficult, I would also argue that being married at 19 can be a huge benefit. You have 24/7 access to a supportive partner who is emotionally and legally obligated to help you. You get to grow together as a couple, instead of being married once you have everything figured out. You end up building your relationship when you’re both still malleable in your habits and attitudes, so you have a strong foundation of communication and experience early on together. 

Other people have commented that I am not prepared to make this decision due to my age but I would argue that my youth isn’t what bothers my nay-sayers. People judge young marriages not because they don’t think the couple should be married -- they are just uncomfortable that young marriages do not fit their perceived life milestone timeline. People who want to be married closer to 30 expect others to be married closer to 30 while people who wish to marry around 22 expect others to be married closer to 22. Since I don’t fit their expected milestone timeline with marriage at 19, I’m inherently wrong to others. 

We judge people for making other life decisions, not just young marriage, outside of our preconceived milestone timelines as well. When those around us have children young or old, marry old, divorce, change majors even when close to graduation, choose a profession that doesn’t pay well, attend school as an older student, or buy a house young, we will judge them because they don’t fit what we consider a normal timeline of life events. We pass off their decisions as irrational because if their decisions are irrational, that means the choices that follow our timelines are superior. Really, judgment over anyone else’s life decisions just stems from that fact that we are all insecure that we aren’t following the correct timeline. 

But truly, your friend deciding to drop out of college to become a YouTuber or your boss having a baby at 43 doesn’t mean your Communications diploma or having your first baby at 28 is invalid. Everyone's on a different life timeline and we just have to accept that everyone’s life will vary. Nothing you say or object to will truly change someone’s life decisions if that’s what they have decided to do. 

At the end of the day, my marriage timeline is just different from yours. I’m ready to start my married life. You might not be ready to even start dating until five years from now. So here’s my word of advice -- unless you are genuinely concerned that someone is getting married to a problematic person or for the wrong reasons, just respect people’s decisions. You don’t need to judge people for getting married in their undergrad college, regardless of your valid arguments for not wanting to get married due to your life timeline. In the end, someone else being married at 19 versus 25 or 30 or 45 won’t change your life.

 

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