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Growing Old {and up} Together: Young & Married

photo credit to Christine McDonald of Captured! Photography
“Wow, you got started young!”

That response is something I’ve become very used to hearing over the past year and a half. My husband, Timothy, and I met our first week of college. We started dating midway through sophomore year. We got engaged between sophomore and junior year, and got married between junior and senior year. By the time we graduated, we were only a couple weeks away from our one-year anniversary. When we celebrate our two-year anniversary, we will be doing so with a newborn.

Not to mention the fact that three months into marriage, we co-founded a community theater company.

Timothy and I have joked from the beginning of our relationship that the best way to sum it up has been “Well, that just happened.” We aren’t reckless, but once we make a decision, we jump in with a lot of gusto. Whatever those decisions have been, we have done everything the same way: together, with enthusiasm, and a lot of faith that it’ll all turn out.

So if you are young and married, or are considering it, here’s a tip: Embrace it. Embrace all the awkward moments (there will be a lot) where you realize that you are both still growing up in a lot of ways. Embrace those moments when the bank account is way smaller than your dreams. Embrace those sweet late-night moments curled up on your craigslist futon, dreaming about the future. Embrace the times when you hurt each other, because you’re stressed and tired and why did no one tell me life was this hard.

Learn to give grace. So, so much grace. Grace for learning and growing and stretching and breaking.

Yes, they will irritate you sometimes. That first year of marriage is both honeymoon bliss and a refiner’s fire. We learned a lot about each other, living in a 300 square foot studio apartment with nowhere to hide. We learned to resolve fights quickly, overcome differences, and give each other space where there really wasn’t much to be given—literally!

But there are the good moments—those sweet, beautiful moments when you look at them and realize all over again why you love this person and why you married them. When you get married young, you might face some backlash. Whether it comes from family, friends, or just the random person on the street, people sometimes frown upon young marriages. They may see you as impulsive or insincere, some may ask how you know what you like if you haven’t taken several years to “date around.” Try not to let this get you down.

One of the best parts about being married young is getting to learn to do life together. Timothy and I have formed our routines, our lives, our goals around our relationship. We’ve had to learn to do all the “adult” things together—things like scheduling car maintenance, figuring out insurance, making a grocery list. The monotonous parts of life become so much better when you’re sharing them with the one you love.

And yes, growing up together can be bumpy. Timothy and I are both vastly different people fromwho we were when we got married—let alone when we started dating. Our perspectives and opinions on a lot of things have changed, we’ve seen mountains and valleys together already, and we’re now facing our biggest adventure yet with the arrival of our first child in 6 months. But we wouldn’t trade this wild adventure for anything.

Photo credit to Christine McDonald of Captured! Photography
So let me offer you some thoughts, if you are a young married or thinking about becoming one:

Take advice from older couples—but be selective about who those couples are. Choose couples you respect, both as individuals and together. Don’t feel obligated to accept everything someone says just because they’re older/been married longer. You will get a lot of unsolicited advice.

Learn to sort through that and keep the good and ignore the bad.

Learn early on how to keep communication open with your significant other. Communication is your greatest asset. Figure out if you have the same conflict resolution style, or different: does one of you need time to process before talking it out, or do you both want to resolve it immediately? Knowing this ahead of time will help you when tempers are running hot and your pride is wounded.

Tell them you love them. Constantly. If pet names aren’t your thing, that’s fine. If you’re not a sappy couple and don’t like lots of grand gestures, that’s fine, too. But make sure that they never go long without knowing you love them.

Sometimes, you will go to bed angry. It happens—schedules are tight, you’re both exhausted, and you don’t have the energy to resolve the conflict before you crash. That’s okay. Just make sure that you resolve it as soon as possible. And if you can, get the discussion to the point where you can offer a hug and kiss before sleep.

Find the little things about them that you love. And tell them. It may sound cheesy, but telling someone of all the small quirks and things that make them unique and lovable can really help remind them how much they are loved, and show them how you really pay attention to them.

Photo credit to Christine McDonald of Captured! photography
Just in general…find ways to love your spouse, stick together, and promise to always have each others’ backs. Hold hands. Kiss a lot. Flirt. Keep dating, even after the wedding. 

And finally…marriage is beautiful and fun and wonderful. Enjoy it.


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