Friday, August 23, 2013

I Got Married at 21 When Everyone Else Was Getting Chocolate Wasted

Our first New Years where he wasn't deployed and he falls this is what happened #marriedlife
While perusing through the blog posts of Avoiding Atrophy, I came across a post called Progressively Married at Twenty-Two.  Shock and surprise, I got married at 21 and I immediately clicked on that link to read more.  I totally understood what she covered in every aspect of her post.  One part particularly resonated with me,
Avoiding AtrophyThroughout our first year of marriage, it has become more and more clear that there exists a kind of quasi-prejudice against women who marry out of college. It’s not so strong that it keeps us from getting work (unless you want to be a nanny for that one lady’s kids, I guess) or that it infringes on any basic human rights, but it is enough to make me, and others like me, feel sort of dismissed.
I totally understood where she was coming from.  I'm finally at an age where the rest of my friends are starting to become engaged and some of them even have kids.  However, I soon found myself unable to attend events or was just at a different point in my life because I was married.  Basically I wasn't heading to Kollege Klub to get wasted and pick up a football player.
Being in the military kind of created more of a safe space for those who are young and married.  It was a quality of military life that I really appreciated but when you return to "civilian" life, it does become very apparent how young you are and how other people your age are getting wasted chocolate wasted.

Christy from Avoiding Atrophy also introduced in that same post, a different author named Lauren Ambler, who wrote a post called I Married Young and I'm Ashamed of It.  It was one of those articles that resonates with you because it is that offensive.  To sum it up here's a tidbit from her post:
In fact, our marriage is largely a secret. I’m desperately afraid I’ll be lumped in with other child brides: chastity ball pledges, Mrs. degree recipients, aspiring housewives, shotgun wives and wedding attention seekers. I’m keenly self-righteous in my girl power. I have a college degree and no particular passion for gift registry small appliances (I’ll struggle on without a stand mixer and a wok, thank you very much).
I could understand Lauren's concerns with marriage at a young age, however, her post quickly hit a downward spiral and every aspect of her article caused me to wonder about her husband.  If I was her life partner, I would have been so humiliated to read that article, especially since it is dripping with her dislike of the sanctity of marriage.  Essentially they're openly dating but got married because of his visa.  So instead of saying we're openly dating because of these circumstances, she belittles people's choices to get married.  I was born outside of the United States and I definitely have some understanding of how marriage can be a large influencing factor when your partner isn't a U.S. citizen.  I didn't want to judge her because so many young couples have those moments where they feel really concerned about getting married young but I also identify as a feminist and she does everything in which a feminist would not do in this situation.
Marriage to me is a hangdog word of household drudgery and sexual captivity or the first chapter of divorce. It is also supposedly sacred to conservatives and all things the right wing holds holy -- school prayer, sexual ignorance, tyranny over ovaries -- I don’t want anything to do with it. That notion of marriage is far too serious, weighing down relationships with a religious and legal burden of “specialness.” 
I feel like this was such a slap in her partner's face.  Maybe her husband wasn't offended by this but in my opinion, I honestly felt like she was feeding into the concerns of other people, instead of focusing on her own marriage.  She belittled every other young marriage, besides her own, and proclaimed to her friends that they can still do drugs around them.  She got married for convenience, and people do that (totally understand), but we are still going through issues of equality in marriage and for her to belittle the existence of an opportunity to get married was definitely NOT okay by me.  The comments to that article definitely ripped her a new one, but my favorite said:
22 is not a child bride. I was married at 20. Still not a child bride. If you love this guy what is there to be ashamed of? For me, I really believe that feminism is freedom OF choice. To be married, or not. To work or not. The list goes on.
Yes, I struggled with the idea of marriage on the basis that people that I loved and cared about that happen to love someone of their own gender couldn't get married. But ultimately, it was about my husband and I. And what we wanted. And that is ok. And my marriage doesn't stop me from supporting those people - at all. It is a matter of perspective.
Don't get me wrong, marriage is hard work, particularly when you have been with someone from age 18 and all the change that involves. But the good days? When you are together and facing the world? Amazing.
And ultimately? A marriage is what YOU make of it. Everyone has different definition, based on THEIR experiences. But you can, and will, work out the worth/value of your marriage on the basis of your experiences - and that is fantastic. The way it should be.
 I could not have said it better.  When Ryan proposed to me, everyone had an opinion.  Whether it was a friend of my mom's, the boyfriend of a best-friend, or my sorority sisters, everyone had something to say.  Usually it was along the lines of me being pregnant, which I wasn't and it was also hilarious, since I worked for a sexual health organization and knew everything you could know about birth control.  That experience really put into perspective how I thought about people that I once respected.  People thought I was pregnant and getting married because of that, which couples do that but for me, I know I would not have done that.  The mom of one of my best-friends actually corrected people who were saying things like that.  It was awesome to have people supporting us but people also have a knack of inserting their opinion even if they don't realize it.  I got a lot of, "I could never get married at this age" and if people were willing to say that in passing conversation, I can only imagine what they were willing to say behind my back.  Even though I was and still am young, I made the conscious decision to get married.  I know that can bring up a lot of red flags for people, especially since the divorce rate in the country and in the military is so high.  At the time, I was balancing being completely independent, in ROTC (aka military training), working three jobs, and earning my college degree.  I may have been bold and a little presumptuous, but it's safe to say that I could handle myself better than many young college kids.  Not everyone understood or had the same type of responsibilities that I had at the time.  Now that's not to put myself on a pedestal because that shit was hard, but it did create certain opportunities for me to grow that others may not have gotten at the time.  When Ryan proposed to me, I knew that he was the one that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.  I loved how Christy covered this:
Where I differ most with Ambler, apart from the fact that I totally disagree on her stance that marriage should be open, is when she calls herself a “child bride”. This is the thing that we millenials are constantly criticized for: that we prolong our childhood in a way that makes us helpless even at an age where we should be considered adults. I am not a child. My married friends of the same age are, by no means, children. We are adults who have made a choice, and we are sticking by it.
I know there is a recommended path in life but Ryan and I didn't take that.  Not everyone should follow the path we took but some people are meant to find their person at a young age and some people are meant to be awesome single parents or CEO's of major companies without ever getting married.  All of these routes in life are okay and are filled with blessings.  I still graduated from college, I'm in a Masters program right now, we have a two-story house, we have two dogs, we have two cars, and we have a really great life.  Is my marriage challenging at times? Absolutely but it's caused me to respect and value all sorts of relationships and it has helped me mature as a person.  There are definitely times when an engagement is announced and I think, hmm that might not be a good idea.  But then I think about how people treated me and Ryan and instead of judging that couple, I usually pray for them because they love each other and all they need right now is good energy heading their way.  Marriage isn't for everyone, especially getting married young, however Ryan and I are in our third year of marriage and it has been awesome =] 

If you liked this post, share it with others! If you feel particularly moved by it, leave a comment because I love feedback and discussion. Social media links are provided below and thanks for reading!
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  1. Marriage is such a personal experience; it's different for every couple, just like every relationship is different. I can't believe some people would lump all young people together and say marriage is wrong for every one of them. Some people wouldn't be ready for marriage even if they were 40—it is not about the number! I'm glad you made the decision that was right for you and your husband, and I wish you many happy years ahead! :)

  2. Thanks Megan! What baffled me about Lauren Ambler was that this was a young person, condemning other young people and their choices. I most definitely understand that it's not for everyone and I also feel like Lauren understands this as well, I kind of see her as a prime example of someone not ready for marriage. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment :) Can't wait for Banned Books Week!

  3. Marriage is so different for every couple, but that's why love is so unique. In my own experience, I wouldn't have been ready for marriage in my 20's. It would have ended in complete disaster! I got married when I was just about to turn 31 and I wouldn't have it any other way. To some people, that was old for marriage. But when did there become a "right" age for marriage? You fall in love when you fall in love and you get married when you feel it's the right time. When it comes to relationships, no one really has room to judge because it's such a personal, intimate experience between two people and no one else.

  4. I completely agree! Although I understand that "elders" want to bestow their wisdom from life lessons, sometimes their experiences are completely dependent on circumstance. I was and probably still am (lol) the poster girl for the "modern independent woman," but when I got engaged all of a sudden people were changing their opinions about me. Life wtf mate? I am still the same person, just I'm committing to someone for the rest of my life. I didn't realize the prejudices that young couples face until I was in the situation myself. Thanks for commenting Jessica! :)

  5. Ahem. I am. Well, um. I would like to...

    So, I'm going to be bold and ask. What is "chocolate wasted"?

  6. I'm in love with this post because it shows the truth of how different individuals can be, especially in terms of maturity and readiness for the commitment of marriage - I feel like Amber is demonstrating not being ready, personally, but who am I to judge.

    People will give their opinions no matter when you get married though, I've decided. I got engaged at 23 and am getting married at 24. We waited until both of us had finished our undergraduate degrees. Even STILL, people had a hundred opinions on whether we (or I, especially; my fiance is 7 years older) were too young, or if I should wait until after graduate school, etc. We also had others bothering us for YEARS about getting married (we dated for 4+ years before getting engaged), but we weren't ready and didn't want to until we were out of college!
    "All of these routes in life are okay and are filled with blessings." Thank you. Each person has a unique path, and since when is it everybody ELSE'S business to decide what that needs to be?

    Grad Student Needs Hobby

  7. Thanks for the shout out, Kim! I love this post and I've been perusing your others as well, and I'm hooked. Hallelujah, keep it up!

  8. Haha it's from the movie "Grownups." One of the dads references getting wasted and their kids are all present so to mediate the situation, they say it means "eating a lot of chocolate." So the little girl declares that she also would like to get "chocolate wasted."

  9. Thanks Christy! I'm a big fan of your blog and originally discovered it from Pinterest about your two-part wedding planning posts. I'm sure I'll be doing more shout-outs in the future and keep rockin' on with your awesome posts :)

  10. Thank you! I'm so glad that you liked this post. I've been wanting to write this post for a long time. I've made attempts with other posts, but I always felt like I was always trying to explain why I did this or that and instead I really didn't care what others thought about it. I'm in a great place in my life and I'll keep on carrying on. Definitely excited to check out your blog! =]

  11. Your posts are always so interesting. At the start, you mention feeling slightly judged/outcast for getting married at a young age. Where I went to school, the majority of people get married the summer after they graduate, so I feel the complete opposite--I feel judged for NOT being married already!

  12. That's really interesting that you say that because I always feel that really the only married couples I know are due to being attached to the military. I love your posts on dating and relationships and I certainly hope that you didn't feel judged by mine. When I got married, I was thriving in a single community and people had a difficult time understanding why I would take myself out of that. Thanks for reading, I always appreciate your comments love :)