Compared to the current trends in first-time marriages, I got married at a relatively young age. It was not because baby came before marriage, or I was out to prove to the world that I was an adult. I got married young because I no longer wanted to be someone's girlfriend. The word seemed so childish to me—I still firmly believe that there needs to be a more adult term—and was not a proper reflection of the feelings I had for my then-boyfriend.
From the outside looking in, this appears to be the same path that (proverbial?) pop star Miley Cyrus is traversing. Her recent engagement to actor Liam Hemsworth has the media clawing for more information to share; but, unlike other celebrity engagement announcements of the past six months or so, Cyrus and Hemsworth are feeling a lot of heat because of their ages. Although not 19 and 22 years of age, my husband and I dated for a little less than 4 years before saying "I do," and one of us was just 22 years old. So, several years their senior (but not by much!), I extend the following advice.
- Put God first. I married for the wrong reasons. I am "grown up" enough now to admit that. We participated in minimal premarital guidance and knew how to answer the counseling questions well enough so that no one had any reasons to worry. We were a step ahead of many couples because we understood that the wedding was one moment in a presumed lifetime together, but veryill-equipped for the emotional responsibilities of marriage. Had we consulted God first about how to bring our two lives together in a less chaotic manner, we probably would not have spent roughly two years of our marriage at odds. (I can hear my MIL shouting with glee about this revelation. Please, don't call or text me about this…)
- Understand that you'll never know how marriage 'works" until you are married, regardless of your age. We have an idea of what a makes a marriage successful—this issimilar to expectant parents who want to do everything right, but realize that they know nothing about parenting until actually becoming parents.Success might be 2 years or 50 years, but the advancement of personal knowledge is not going to make much of a difference. Sure, being graced with more years under one's belt provides for more life experience to pull from, but the attributes that we bring to the table will always be brought to the table. Yes, there are exceptions to this, as there are for virtually everything in life, but the neat freak you were at 22 hasn't changed at 37 all that much, now has it?
- Be good company. Just a couple months shy of being agitated by this line, a close friend of mine gave me this little gem of wisdom. I was going through the list of things I had, or had not, done to get my desired results out of my marriage and the friend suggested that I simply try to be good company this go around. This sounds easy enough when things are going well, but when things get rough—and they will, do not doubt it for a second—it can be hard to imagine being in the same room with your spouse. Please, put your pride aside be a friend to your spouse whenever possible.
There will be days when you are head-over-heels in love with one another. There will also be days when you cannot remember what made you love your spouse to begin with. I'm currently living somewhere in the gray area between it all and I'm honestly okay with it. I used to want the answers, but now I'm patient enough to simply enjoy the Aha Moments when they come.
To any couple considering marriage, I wish you well. I pray that God blesses you and keeps you both. I hope you realize, much faster than I did, that you do not have the answers to all your questions. Find a mentor or another couple (maybe older?) to be your champions. Be good company…it'll get you through, I promise. And, above all else, keep folks out of your marital business as much as possible. Unless your life is in danger, learn to take your problems directly to your spouse and sort them out before you incorporate the guidance of (or lack thereof) friends and family.No one will know your relationship better than you.
Good luck to you, Miley and Liam.