Mom, I Know I'm Only 20 But I'm Getting Married
Photo Credit Above: Michael Fenton
If a 20 year old came up to me today and said they wanted to get married, I would likely knock them upside the head. Just kidding, I wouldn’t… but I would probably laugh and tell them they’re nuts. They’re young, still learning about who they are, what they want, and what they’re looking for out of life - why rush it?
In a country where one divorce occurs approximately every 13 seconds, it can be quite discouraging to allow one’s child to make such a huge life decision before you feel they have grown and matured enough to know what they truly want.
Thinking back, I realize I was that 20 year old telling my parents that I wanted to get married. I remember the look on my parents’ faces - you know that look - the one that’s a cross between “she’s lost her mind” and “where did I go wrong.” You can’t blame them.
I had just turned 20, not even finished with my second year of college when John and I started talking about getting serious. Although he and I along with our families had known each other for many years, we really had never considered dating each other as John is 7 years older - he was closer friends with my brother and sister than with me. So you can see why my parents, especially my mom, was a tad nervous about my announcement.
Long story short (that’s an entirely separate blog post), we got married 5 months later. That was almost a quarter of a century ago.
Would I do it again? Absolutely. Would I allow my now 19 year old daughter to do it? I honestly don’t know. I’m not sure - our world is so different now. What I do know is that if she came to me and said she had met the love of her life, I’d want to have her thoroughly think about a whole host of questions which John and I painstakingly went through over many nightly phone conversations (what we would have given for free long distance at the time).
You may have additional/different thoughts/questions/requirements, but for me, these are key and the major factors that helped our marriage navigate the ups and downs of everyday life.
One of the most important aspects from my experience, is to learn the character of a person. The true character of your spouse or significant other is what will be key during the most trying of times. Material aspects of a marriage such as finances, jobs, health, physical appearances, etc, are aspects that can change at any time. How your significant other deals with conflict or challenges can be pivotal in dealing with potential variables. A relationship is like being on a team - you win together, you lose together. Getting to know these characteristics thoroughly plays a big role in understanding the strengths and weaknesses of your potential spouse.
Sometimes, when we think of respect, we may mistake it for admiration. When I think of respect (in a relationship), I think of it as continuing to love that person for who they are with no conditions attached, even through times of difficulties that almost any marriage/relationship is guaranteed to encounter. Respect hinges on trust, and trust is built on a foundation of truthfulness and honesty. Obviously respect is earned, not demanded, but that goes back to one’s character.
Discuss where you both want to live and one day raise a family. Career wise, think about how you will each support yours as well as the other’s aspirations along with the time, money and commitment that it may require.
Discuss how finances will be managed…how much spending, saving and investing does each person see themselves doing. Where one may be more thrifty, the other may be a bit more carefree. A common ground will need to be established. Finances, according to a study from Kansas State University, are the number one cause of divorce.
Discussing the number of children each want and when to start a family can have wide implications on a relationship. Discussing the disciplinary, social and spiritual upbringing of your children up front can help avoid future surprises.
Clearly, these are a guide for discussion points. It is important to realize that both individuals change over time and so could their goals and aspirations. The key becomes the flexibility of each individual and their ability to consult and compromise.
While the points above are not a holistic view, to me, they are key factors in evaluating not only your potential spouse, but also discovering your own desires and aspirations as it relates to a relationship.
Hugs, Mama K