Wanda and I started dating when we were fifteen. We got married when we were barely 21. I was wasn’t even halfway through my college education. Wanda worked full-time to support us. We lived in a tiny apartment. We had no savings account. My career path was anything but solid. There was no money for new clothes, new furniture, or new cars. Everything we owned was used.
If our life together would have unfolded in 2015, and not 1975, our marriage would probably never had happened. Our parents would have laid in front of the bus. Our minister would have counseled us to wait at least a few more years. Our friends would have thought we were on drugs. My college counselors would have begged me to, at least, finish my undergraduate program… if not graduate school, also. Our financial counselors would have said what a potential financial disaster we were going to make of our lives.
Too young. Too immature. Too stoopid. Too nearsighted. Too selfish. Too pollyanna.
I know how the standard logic has changed over the years. Wait longer to get married. Finish your education. Get established in your career. Pay off your school debt. (Yeah. Right.) Get some experience under your belt. Get older, wiser, deeper. And for the most part, that logic has created a culture shift over the past 60 years.
In 1960, the average age for first-time marriages was 20 for women and 22 for men. By 1990, it was 23 and 26. And by 2013, it was 27 and 29. I doubt the marrying age is getting any younger in 2015.
While I certainly wouldn’t lobby for younger marriages across the board (each relationship should be treated as unique), I can look back and see value in marrying as young as we did.
- If you still see honor and God’s wisdom in reserving sexual intimacy for the marriage covenant, marrying younger certainly helps. I’m pretty sure Wanda and I wouldn’t have held out six more years for the completion of Graduate School. Just sayin’.
- We definitely grew up and matured quicker. Responsibility has a way of making that happen for those who are willing.
- Our spiritual learning curves have always been parallel. When our relationship was young and impressionable, we read the same books, listened to the same teachers, followed the same advice. Our journey to spiritual maturity has always mirrored each other’s.
- We were not old enough, as adults, to already be set in our ways. There is no doubt we each had habits and personal quirks we had to adjust to, but they were few. Certainly fewer than people who live on their own for years, before they get married.
- Living with little, forced us to be content with little. Because of those early “lean” years together, this has been a value we have possessed our entire married life. It is a value we worked hard to pass on to our sons.
- We learned, at a pretty early age, that independence is not the most treasured of personal attributes. Dependence is higher. Dependence on each other. Dependence on God. We were too young and inexperienced to have developed trust in our education, in our talent, in our experience, in our competence. We hadn’t lived long enough. So we learned, quickly, to trust each other and to trust God. I would not trade that process for anything.
- Honestly, the expectations we had for each other were pretty low. Measured, at best. We didn’t really know any better. We were innocent. Naive. Happy. Crazy. Carefree. Open to possibilities. Free from burdens that tied us down and free to follow where we perceived God was leading us.
Were we more mature than most 21 year olds? Maybe. A little. Was there still risk involved in getting married as young as we did? You bet. But there’s always a risk.
Do I want couples to get married younger? Not necessarily. But some couples should never get married in the first place, either.
I love the life Wanda and I have had together. I love how it started. I love how it has progressed. I’m just saying if it happened for us this way, it could certainly happen for others, also.
If you’re a parent of kids, what are you telling them about the right time to get married?