• Elaine Zito

Pros and Cons of Getting Married Young

I met my husband when I was 19 years old. I had just finished my first year at Virginia Tech. I wasn't looking for a relationship, but they always say love comes when you least expect it. We started dating after knowing each other for a little over a month. I went back to college and we did long distance for two more years until I graduated. Then, 10 days after graduation he proposed. We got married 11 months later after I had recently turned 22. Allyn was my first and only serious relationship, and it went from nothing to everything, pretty quickly. Now, I am very happy and fortunate for finding him so young, but it comes with its challenges. Here are my pros and cons of getting married young:

Disclaimer: I wouldn't change a thing, this is just a way for me to hopefully help other people who are getting married young, and the challenges that may come with it.

Cons: (We'll start with the bad, and end with the good)

I have never truly been on my own: While I have had a job since I was 15, and paid for my cars and apartment rents, etc., I have never been solely responsible for myself. My parents were gracious enough to help me through college with food, school, and bill costs. They were a safety net every step of the way, until I said "I Do". Then, when I got married, Allyn had already been in the workforce for a few years, so he was financially stable. This allowed me to take my time finding a job, and not worry about money. While it has always been nice having someone else to rely on, it has impeded my ability to feel independent and become smart about financial decisions. I have never really known what it's like to survive on my own, so the decisions I do make are sometimes not the smartest. This has been a barricade to get over in my relationship. Allyn has had time to mess up and learn. He now knows how to avoid money mistakes. But when I am about to make a "mistake," he stops me. Most people might think this is great, but for me its an issue of control. I feel like I lack control because he knows more. I am stubborn so I want to make mistakes and learn on my own. Unfortunately, because we have a joint account I can't just go about life making decisions without his input. We're a team and therefore we both need each others approval when it comes to money. The whole issue could be avoided if I had known the struggle and what it was actually like to manage my own money with no safety net. So, it may look like a first world problem, but it definitely isn't a cakewalk. I think I actually want to 'pretend separate' our money just to see how much I actually have left at the end of the month after paying half of all of the bills. How else will I learn to be financially smart if I don't truly know what it's like to manage money on my own? Hopefully this will lead to us being on the same page and thinking alike when it comes to how we spend our money and make financial decisions.

I haven't had the chance to find myself independently: Allyn had seven years between the time he graduated high school to the time he met me. While he spent some of that in college, he also had time after to make mistakes, figure out life, and struggle. I mean this in a way that's crucial to building your character and finding yourself. It's made him who he is today; financially savvy, smart, practical, and full of common sense and random knowledge. I believe this time in your mid 20s is necessary to forming who you are as an adult. I feel like I skipped this stage and went right into marriage. Not only am I trying to figure out who I am, but who I am with Allyn. It can be overwhelming, and at times feel like I'm being selfish or not putting him first. Trying to figure out who you are while simultaneously give to another person creates for some challenges. This may be easier for two people who are the same age because they're going through stuff for the first time together, but Allyn is six years older. He has figured things out and found better ways for success. He knows who he is and how to handle situations. I am just learning, but want to learn for myself. So, some issues we have faced include the best way to do things, how to shop smart, and how to handle normal adult crap. He gets frustrated when he wants to solve a problem for me and get it over with, but then I would never learn. It's a weird time where he knows more and I'm just getting started. There can be an imbalance here leading to arguments. But with a lot of patience from him, and a willingness to learn from me, we have slowly been working out these issues. And as for finding myself independently, I have just had to make it a priority to do things just for me that won't negatively impact us, such as: therapy, blogging, journaling, etc. Because even though he and I are a package deal, I'm still my own person with my own identity and independence. I will always work on being better for my marriage, but I can only do that if I'm working on myself first.

My career and living choices have been swayed: While I had the opportunity to look for whatever career I wanted, I was limited to a location we both agreed on. Right after college we were living in Virginia Beach. There are plenty of career opportunities there, but not as many as you might find in a bigger city. Allyn and I had to agree that neither of us wanted to live in a city, or away from the coast. So, my options became confined. Also, because Allyn had already been waiting tables for the great money, he had a particular schedule that wouldn't allow me to see him much if I took a typical 9-5. I chose to jump in with him to create a more fulfilling life on the relationship side. It has allowed us to spend all of the time together, as well as travel whenever we want. It has been great, but I sometimes wonder what it would be like if I had taken a corporate job in a city of my choosing. My career identity has 100% been persuaded by him and our life together.

Pros: (There are so many, but here's three, to counteract the cons)

I don't have to worry about finding someone (especially on dating apps): For someone who is all about checklists, it's really nice to have this one crossed off. I am a chronic worrier and a perfectionist, especially when it comes to life's timelines. I believe some higher power knew the security of marriage was close to necessary for me lol. But besides me sounding super dependable, it is just really nice that I don't have to be on Tinder, or go on blind dates that end bad. Getting married young is awesome because you're not alone, and you don't have to worry about finding someone. Now you can just concentrate on all the other crap the world throws at you.

More time with the love of my life: There will never be enough time with the ones we love. While I felt like I missed out on some years I could have had as an independent woman, I'm really glad I found Allyn when I did. Life has been so much more fun and full with him and all that he has to bring. The year 2013 felt like a new era, and it's been the best time of my life ever since.

Going through life with someone else is easier/more fun: Because despite my annoyance with him seeming to know everything and me nothing, it is really comforting to have someone to go through the hard times and difficult situations. I always have him to consult, vent to, and discuss with. I know I'll never be alone with whatever life brings my way. And really, companionship is the most important thing in life. Having that connection is what gives me purpose and hope for more.

So to all you people who say, "Oh you got married so young!," and " Wow, you're so young to get married, good luck with that," I'd respond with thanks, I feel so lucky to be in this position. I'd take all the cons for the pros, because being married is freakin' awesome. And why wait until you're a certain age to do so?

xoxo, Isla Girl