Please note: this post is about why my young marriage has succeeded. This is my story. I do not encourage people who are in abusive relationships to stay, and I realize there are times when divorce is called for.
On a cold evening in December, I became a 19 year old bride. I had dreamed about my wedding day for years. A lot of little details about that night fell through. I remember looking down the aisle and realizing no one lit the candles. My veil nearly caught on fire when we did the unity candle ceremony. I could hear my mom and Nana crying in the front pew of the church. Things may not have gone how I imagined, but two young kids stood shakily in front of their families and friends and committed their lives to each other.
My husband and I just celebrated seven years of marriage. We have been together for eleven years total. I often read other’s criticisms of young marriage, and I do understand why so many may think it could be a bad thing. We have watched other young marriages around us crumble. A lot of people were worried about us getting married at such a young age. I’m not going to lie and say that this has been the most blissful, easy thing. It hasn’t! We have had so many challenges, but here we are, still together and even more in love than that day we said, “I do.”
What has held us together all of these years? Commitment. When my husband and I took our vows in the same church I was baptized, we took those vows to heart. We are committed to each other. Through good times and bad we stand beside each other. There were times in the very beginning of our marriage I thought we would become another statistic. There was even one fight that was so bad he walked out the door in the morning and I wasn’t sure if he was going to come back.
We both have a strong belief in God and believe He brought us together. What would’ve happened if we just gave up on each other? Our two youngest boys wouldn’t be here. Our older two children would come from a broken home. After dealing with a deployment, I have seen first hand how devastating it can be especially for young children when Daddy isn’t in the home. We are committed to each other and committed to providing our children with a loving home where they have access to both of us every day that it is possible.
Our marriage is not disposable. If something isn’t working, we are committed to fixing it.
One of the things I see so often when people divorce is, “Well, I wasn’t happy,” We live in a culture that tells us that we need to put ourselves first and our happiness first. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be happy, but we can’t always get our way with every little thing. This is true in marriage. When I got married, I was a very naive girl. I thought I could change my husband and convince him to do everything the way I wanted him to. Oh, boy was I wrong.
We fought hard those first few years. Why did he leave his clothes all over the house? Why did he stay up so late every night? Why did I always interrupt him when he was talking? I even had a bad habit of calling him names and just going ballistic when I did not get my way. He did things that annoyed me, and I did things that annoyed him and both of us got really mad when we couldn’t get our way.
I was the first to realize, he is the man and I need to let him lead. Now that doesn’t mean he walks all over me. No, I consider myself a pretty strong woman and when I think he is making a mistake I let him know. Most of the time when I am actually right, I can convince him to change his mind. But overall, I have taken a backseat approach to things and I try not to worry so much about things that I used to worry about. Of course, we always talk about things before they are done and usually we agree, but there have been times I have sat back and let him do things his way even when I did not agree.
After we had that huge fight when I thought we might not make it, I started reading Women Living Well. This website changed my marriage. It changed my attitude and things got extremely better. I matured and I realized what it was going to take to make my marriage work. I may have gotten married young, but I did not come from a family like the Duggars. I was a young, college educated woman who ran over her husband any chance she got. In many ways I emasculated him without even realizing what I was doing. I will never forget one time my husband and I argued in front of my mother and she said to me, “You are going to end up pushing him away.” I began slowly changing how I interacted with him. I began trying to show him respect and trying to meet his needs. Guess what happened?
He changed! Yes, he started to grow up, too. I almost couldn’t believe it. How could my attitude change him? I learned I had to accept him as he is, and in turn, he decided he wanted to do better for me. It was amazing.
Your marriage won’t last if you can’t have fun together. We make it a habit to do things together that we both enjoy. We are each other’s best friends. It can be really hard to make time for each other these days because we have three (almost four) kids, but we still try. We will watch a movie or show together. We like going to antique shops or building puzzles together. It may sound boring to other people, but we have to carve out at least a little bit of time for each other regularly.
If you are young and married I encourage you to stay the course through the hard times. If you know someone who is young and getting married, encourage them in their relationship instead of discouraging them.