After 11+ years of living in Utah, I’ve learned a few things: 1) This is a great place to live in, although 2) I still hate its weather; and 3) Young married couples/families here need to start focusing on growing together INSTEAD of growing up together.
Soon after we arrived here, a lady who’s LDS who used to work with my mom told her the following (I’m paraphrasing) when my mom asked why Mormons tend to marry so young:
It’s so that we can start populating the Earth as soon as possible and for as long as we can.
POPULATE THE EARTH?
Now that struck us as odd–and a little mean?– back then, but now (no offense to my lovely LDS followers and blog friends whom I adore!), over 11 years later, it’s kind of beginning to make sense. Is it an exaggeration? Perhaps (>> let me know, LDS readers!), but just like all exaggerations, it’s based on something true.
I mean, I can’t help but realize that that is what MOST LDS couples seek, and I’m here to ask those who believe in that “commandment” (thank you, Kelsey, for sharing The Family: A Proclamation to The World–though for an entirely different purpose, in your beautiful new blog page) to STOP and instead cherish SINGLEDOM (not marriage) as a period to grow up.
After all, your spouse deserves the BEST version of you: Not the immature, kid/teenage-version of you, but rather the “I can take on this world by myself if I have to, dang it”-version of you.
Am I hating on ALL young families? Perhaps all modern ones, SURE. (Did you know that our brains–in particular its decision-making region–finish developing when we’re around 25?)
But I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t share a secret with you guys: My parents married when my mom was 19 and my dad was 24, and had me five years later. They were not only young, but also super sure that they were right for each other. Today, 29 years later, that’s still true :). But something that my mom always clarifies to everyone (even to the young married [LDS] dads who stare at my pretty single self [shame on them] from a picture she has of me at her shop) is that THOSE WERE DIFFERENT TIMES.
Back then, that was expected of women. Almost 30 years ago young women fresh out of high school (or having been in a college for a little bit) didn’t have that many opportunities to begin with–especially in Colombia, where we’re from.
But now it’s completely different–even in Colombia! My mom and I both know this because we’re experiencing these times. Here, I’ll echo what she’s long said:
Advocating for such a lifestyle (in which young couples got married) now, in the 21st century, when there are SO MANY DIFFERENT things for women to do BEFORE getting married, is sooo…. gosh it’s so….. backwards!
I may be old-fashioned, but I’m not THAT old-fashioned.
TO-DOs BEFORE MARRIAGE
Those who know me know that I’m not saying any of this from a place of hate or anything. Instead, I have to admit that just like it bugs me when people say it’s awesome to live together (because it’s not), I honestly can’t understand why a religion would tell its followers that it’s OK to get married when they’re not fully grown-up and independent.
Not many others agree. As Kelsey (who’s one of the sweetest bloggers you’ll ever “meet”) put it in her school project (Not to add to your to-do list, but even if you aren’t LDS, her assignment is definitely worth a read!):::
[Many] people … put too much of a focus on personal independence before marriage. Young adults need to realize that it is okay to build economic stability together after the wedding. Couples should not feel pressured to have it all perfectly together before they get married.
But the thing is people SHOULD be economically stable before the wedding! They don’t need to be millionaires, but they should have a steady flow of good income, a healthy emergency fund, savings, a comfy cushion of discretionary funds (you know, the $$ you use to fund your random shopping trips and restaurant outings), and the list goes on. I don’t want my husband or his family to feel like they “own” me because I didn’t come prepared.
Couples SHOULD also feel pressured to bring greatness (not necessarily perfection) to their union! Otherwise, what’s marriage for? I don’t want to think of myself as “flawed” before marrying my future husband; I want to feel as ready as I can be–because I sure as heck will be expecting the same. Sure, marriage and living with another man other than my dad might make new flaws resurface (just as he’ll likely have cute/quirky/potentially annoying flaws that’ll also resurface post-wedding), but those will be for the two of us to work on.
We won’t be growing UP together. We’ll be older and mature. He lived before me; I lived before him. He’ll be independent; I’ll be independent. He’ll have his finances straightened out; I’ll have my finances straightened out. He’ll be out of my league; I’ll be out of his league. His family will be like, “Da*n, good job son!” and my family will be like, “Da*n, good job hon!” We won’t be growing UP together because we already had plenty of growing up to do separately. Instead, we’ll be simply growing together.
Let’s just grow together.
I’M NOT SAYING THIS FROM A PLACE OF IGNORANCE
When I was 22, I was quasi-proposed to (you know: when a guy asks if you’d like to consider getting married after a while à la George Michael Bluth). However, we were quasi-engaged for less than 24 hours before I called the whole “thing” (if there was ever a thing) off. I remember telling him (he was 15 years my senior, so you can understand his timing) that I had to first leave Utah, get my PhD, get a life, grow up more, and become me before ever thinking of becoming an us.
He said he had actually imagined us getting married and then living near whatever school I’d end up attending. When I implied that wasn’t an option, he replied that he wouldn’t do a long-distance relationship with me; that he had tried it before with someone else, and it didn’t work.
His big-time loss, right? ;) (Though between you and me: What could be so romantic about struggling to have a relatively good life while he’s unemployed and I’m bringing home however much I’ll earn from my grad school responsibilities, anyways?? My point exactly.)
You’re not just waiting in vain. There’s a purpose behind every delay. (@TheSingleWoman)
MY PARENTS DON’T DESERVE AN IMMATURE DAUGHTER
Besides having a set of parents who sacrificed many things to bring our family here and who therefore insist that education is the best path to progress and independence, I also think it’d pretty dang stupid of me to throw all that down the drain to get married in my early 20s.
WHY THE RUSH?
What I also don’t get is why MUST couple (LDS or not) get married so young OR without having prepared properly. If it’s true that you’re meant to be together forever, why the rush? Is it really about finally starting to have sex and procreating? (As I’ve written before, sex isn’t the end-all, be-all.) Why not spend a reasonable amount of time (or at least until after your brain’s fully developed) discovering yourself? Growing up? Making some (good) money? Becoming independent?
What’s so romantic about struggling financially, about making <$40 an hour (total, as a couple), or about having to choose to be an XYZ technician or an an XYZ assistant because they’re quick paths to a (mediocre?) job (and you need the quick money to help support your married lifestyle)?
What’s so romantic about having to quit school early, about not being able to want to become a doctor/lawyer/accountant, or get a Master’s or a PhD “because there’s no time” (even though there is if you postpone marriage!!), about not being able to afford a worthy abode, or even about bringing a kid into the world when you can’t even afford said abode?
What’s so romantic about rushing it, about not being able to discover yourself, about not being able to learn more about the world, about not waiting, about not falling in love with yourself FIRST, or about not becoming independent, not having enough time to “build economic stability,” and not having it all perfect FOR YOUR PARTNER?
What COULD be so romantic about rushing it??
DESPITE ALL I’VE SAID, AGE DOES APPEAR TO BE JUST A NUMBER
… And readiness for marriage may not be a function of age, after all. For instance, one of my cousins, who’s 31, just got married last week and guess where he and his new bride will reside at first. Go ahead, guess. I’ll give you some time…
None other than her parents’ house!
I know, right? I love the guy but it seems like in his ten-twelve years of work he never once thought to build a life (or at least save up a little to build such a life) for whoever his future bride would turn out to be. In all fairness, though, his job was in Panama, and I think he used to rent an apartment there.
STILL… I know I don’t want to be caught in that situation–nor do I want my future husband to be like that. Which is why I’m studying my butt off and aiming for grad school–that way I’ll have a lot to offer him and my in-laws. Plus, like my grandma’s said, your twenties (or at least your early 20s) are meant to be enjoyed!
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS :)! Did you get married young? Are you getting married young? Why? Would you rather wait? How come? (As always, I just ask that you be courteous. And if you have a loooong comment yo don’t feel like posting below, feel free to email me at Annie [at] TheRantingLatina [dot] com. Thanks, lovelies!!)
Never trade what you want the most for what you want at the moment. (@TheSingleWoman)