What I’ve learned after two and a half years as a wife
I have a confession to make. My guilty pleasure is The Bachelor. I know, I know. It’s trash television, but I still love it. I’ve been watching it for 10+ years, so I’ve seen my fair share of breakups, twists and of course, dramatic moments.
But something was different on this season of The Bachelor. For the first time, I was older than the majority of the contestants competing. I was even older than the Bachelor himself.
And while I know so much of reality TV is staged and not authentic, something about seeing a 23-year-old claim she was ready for marriage struck me as odd.
Only 23? I thought. How can she be ready for marriage? And then I remembered. I was only 24 when I got engaged. Probably only a few months older than these girls. Does that make me a hypocrite?
Not completely. I mean, these girls have only known the Bachelor for a few weeks, whereas I’d been dating my now-husband for over two years when we took the plunge.
But still. I wonder if my friends and family had the same judgments about me that I had for these girls.
Marriage has changed
Of course I had support. No one told me I wasn’t there for the right reasons or that I wasn’t ready. But it’s no secret that society’s view of marriage has changed.
More and more, women are waiting to get married. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average age of first marriage for women in 2017 was 27.4 years. Compare that to even 1990, when the average age was just 24.
I get it. I mean, women aren’t beholden to men like they were 50 years ago. We’re out in the world having careers of our own, making names for ourselves. I don’t blame women for wanting to wait.
But call me old fashioned, because I wanted to get married and get married young. The sooner the better. But it wasn’t because I wanted to quit my job and just pop out babies or that I needed a man to hide behind.
I saw marriage for what it was. A profession of love, a promise that you’ll go through life with each other, a declaration of partnership.
Marriage is love
First and foremost, I got married because I was in love. When I met him, I wasn’t on the hunt for a husband, waiting to snatch the first guy who held my hand. Sure, I wanted a boyfriend, but I wasn’t thinking about marriage. At least not yet.
I won’t get into the mushy details, but it’s a tale as old as time. We fell in love.
And to quote a line from one of my favorite movies:
“When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” — When Harry Met Sally
It wouldn’t have mattered if I had found him when I was 20 or when I was 45. He was the one I was meant to marry, and I knew it. And even though we were young, we knew we were ready. Waiting would’ve just delayed the inevitable.
Marriage is a partnership
I often wonder if some people think I’m crazy for settling down so early. That I’m somehow missing out on something. But I never really dated a lot. I can count on one hand the number of guys I’ve gone on dates with.
Instead of focusing on what I’ve given up by settling down, I like to focus on what I’ve gained. And what I’ve gained is a partner.
I think the difference between marriage and dating is commitment. When I said “I do,” I was no longer just the girl he loved. I was family, and he was mine.
As a wife, I have someone to share my life with. I have someone to laugh with, vent to, cry on, dance with, go out with, stay in with, cuddle with and hug. I can ask his opinions on the issues in my life. I can ask for his help when I need it. I have someone who’s always in my court, supporting me and lifting me up.
There’s no way around it. Life is hard. But having someone you love by your side makes it a little bit less hard.
Marriage is my dream
I’ve dreamt about getting married since I was a girl. About marrying the man of my dreams and starting a family. And now that dream is a reality.
Who cares when that dream materialized? How old I was when I decided that I would take that leap? All I know is that it was the right choice for me.
I’m not saying everyone should get married young. I think some 23-year-olds probably aren’t ready. But some are. And we shouldn’t judge each other for that.
Some women know what they want and they go after that. For some that means building the career of their dreams. But for others, it may mean marrying the man of their dreams.
Getting married young isn’t a bad thing. And waiting to get married isn’t bad either. We aren’t all on the same paths, and we shouldn’t have to apologize for that.