There is one area of our relationship that I've never talked much about -- Our ages. I am officially a "young bride". Both David and I will be 21 when we get married in June. We've been together for over 6 years now, and everyone who knows us and has watched our relationship develop has been nothing but supportive of our decision to tie the knot. Our families are both extremely excited for us, and totally "approve" of our choice - I think both of our moms have known for years that we'd be married eventually.
Honestly, the only people I get comments from are ones I've never met before or don't know well. And what's interesting is that these same people are excited when they hear that I'm engaged. They ask questions about the planning, about David, and about our future plans. But if they happen to find out how old I am, their reaction totally changes. For some reason they become critical and downright rude. I get questions like, "WHY would you get married so young?!" and "Do you realize what the divorce rate is??" (Why do people think that kind of behavior is ok?!) It always seems like the people who know nothing about the situation are the ones most likely to make comments about it.
Do the questions bother me? I'd be lying if I said no. They're hurtful and irritating. But at the same time, I realize that a lot of times people say those things because they're thinking back to themselves at my age - Their level of maturity, their outlook on life, and their level of responsibility. Getting married at 21 wasn't right for them, and that's ok. I realize that what's right for me isn't necessarily what's right for the next person, and I have no problem with that.
While I agree there are couples that are likely too immature to make their marriage successful, I don't think that has anything to do with age. Maturity is so much more important. With maturity comes the realization that marriage is more than being in love with someone and putting a ring on their finger. Marriage is hard work and not always fun, but always worthwhile. It's choosing to love your spouse every morning. It's choosing to encourage and support your spouse in his/her goals and passions, even if/when they differ from your own. It's choosing to compromise and realize your spouse's needs are just as important as yours. It's promising (and then choosing) to be there in the good, the bad, and the downright ugly times. And that understanding doesn't come with age.
One of my favorite quotes I've found about marriage is this one:
"The real act of marriage takes place in the heart, not in the ballroom or church or synagogue. It's a choice you make - not just on your wedding day, but over and over again -- and that choice is reflected in the way you treat your husband or wife. Marriage is not a noun; it's a verb. It isn't something you get. It's something you do. It's the way you love your partner every day." - Barbara De Angelis
The choice can be made when you're 21 or when you're 38. Does being older make your choice more authentic or credible? I don't think so. As long as you've made (and will continue to make) the choice in your heart, age is nothing but a number.
Are you a young bride? Have you experienced this?