As a child, I always planned on being married by the time I turned 25.
My grandmothers were married at 18 and 21, my mother was 25, and my aunts were between the ages of 18 and 26.
It was kind of a normal thing to me – getting married young and hopefully having my first child not long after. It seemed like a perfect idea in my eyes.
By the time I was 19, I kind of abandoned this idea, simply because I was socially awkward, and had been on a whopping two, very unsuccessful dates in my lifetime. I figured I’d be lucky if I was married by age 50.
Then, the year that I turned 21, I met my fiancé.
It was pretty much like one of those cheesy romantic comedies I grew up watching – you know, the kind where Hilary Duff is a total awkward loser in school with very few friends, then ends up dating the captain of the football team. Or something like that, anyway.
While we had only known each other for about eight months, and had only been dating for about six, he proposed over Christmas.
I was overjoyed and while the vast majority of friends and family were happy for us, we were occasionally met with questions, normally regarding my age, or how long we’d been together, followed with a, “Oh, but you’re so young! You have your whole life ahead of you!”
This is true, however, from 1950-1970, the average age for a woman on her wedding day was 20 years old – almost three years younger than I’ll be on mine.
In the small town where I’m from, marrying young seems to be common practice. I can think of at least four people that I went to school with who are now married, and another 10 or so who are engaged.
I never really gave it much thought before I was engaged, I guess because I just didn’t have to. I had no reason to be worried about what other people may say about my life choices before this, probably because, really, I had never made any important, life-altering decisions, other than what college to attend.
Before my fiancé proposed, it seemed like very few people cared what I chose to do with my personal life.
Sure, I’d get the odd, “What do you mean you don’t have a boyfriend yet?” and the occasional, “How’s your love life going?”
I always found those easy to brush off and ignore.
“I’m focusing on school right now. I don’t have time for a boyfriend,” often silenced those inquiries.
For anyone who’s insistent that I have my whole life ahead of me and that I should be living for myself right now, you’re completely right.
I am living for myself. I’m doing something that makes me happy, with someone who makes me happy. The choice to get married is a personal one – it works for some, and it doesn’t for others, just like changing a last name, having children, and going to college after high school.
While I am young, I don’t see the point in delaying what’ll end up happening in five, 10 or even 15 years down the road anyway.
As far as my life goes – well, I’ve always admired the fact that my grandmother was married at 21, remained married for 54 years, and could say she was happily married to someone she loved, despite the ups and downs.
She got to spend the majority of her life with someone who made her happy and I hope to do the same.