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In a little over a month, my honey and I will be leaving our daughters with their grandma while we head out of town to celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary. It's nothing extravagant. We recently discovered Airbnb, so we're basically geeking out about staying in someone's garden apartment while getting eight hours of completely uninterrupted sleep.
I also celebrated my 26th birthday last month. If you are paying close enough attention, and you are quick with math, your jaw is probably already dropping as you realize I was barely 20 years old when I said "I do."
At the time, when I was buying my wedding dress and signing catering and florist contracts, it didn't seem all that strange that I was planning my wedding at 19. Growing up in a conservative Christian homeschool community meant that nearly everyone my age was married or getting married soon.
Getting married young has not been without challenges, but I think that is true no matter what age you tie the knot. In my six years of marriage, I have found there a some big perks to getting married young.
1. You aren't set in your ways
When you get married young, it is easy to adjust to living with another person because you literally just moved out of your parents' house. You haven't had time to get used to living alone or to get too comfortable in your own way of doing things.
2. Combining lives is easy
My husband and I moved in together after living in our respective dorm rooms; before that, we were living with our parents. Because of this, getting married and moving in together was easy. We both brought just a few boxes with us into to our apartment. And we bought our furniture together or inherited it from family (because, let's face it, we were broke).
3. Built-in support system
For me, my first few years out of college were hard. I still wasn't sure where my career was headed and my husband was having a little trouble finding work that felt like a good fit. Some days, we both came home so discouraged with our jobs, but it was nice to have each other at the end of a hard day.
4. You build your life together
I love that we have a long life ahead of us to chase these wild ideas of ours.
"My very favorite part of marrying young is that we ... have the opportunity to build our dreams together. Just this morning we were dreaming, planning and setting goals for our future, both professionally and personally. I love that we have a long life ahead of us to chase these wild ideas of ours," said young mom Allie, who married her husband when they were 23 and 24.
5. Safe sex
I know the criticism surrounding young people who get married in their early 20s. I have heard more than once that twentysomethings only get married for sex. While that might be true in some cases, there is also something to be said for the fact that marrying young often means fewer sexual partners, which means a lowered risk of exposure to STDs and enjoying safe sex in a committed, monogamous relationship.
6. Start a family early … or don't
In general, there seems to be more freedom surrounding how and when you choose to start your family. Starting a family early has perks. For instance, when my younger daughter heads off to college, I will be in my early 40s and have plenty of time for adventure and traveling alone with my husband. Because both of parents married young as well, our daughters have young grandparents who love being involved in their lives.
At the same time, you also have a lot of time to start a family if you would rather wait. And it seems like the people around you aren't pushing you to start making babies when you're still a baby yourself.
7. You know what it's like to be broke
Getting married at barely 20 meant my husband and I literally started with nothing. After two kids in two years, car repairs, career changes and medical bills, my husband and I aren't exactly rolling in it at this point in life. Still, when we look back at that first year when I was still in college and he was trying to get a job in his field, we take comfort in that fact that we managed to make ends meet with so little, and our marriage is stronger because of it.
8. Being poor together is better than being poor alone
Being poor isn't all that bad when you have your best friend by your side.
Unless you picked a degree that will pipeline you right into a lucrative career, chances are things are going to be a little lean during your first few years out of college. Being poor isn't all that bad when you have your best friend by your side. There's something significantly less depressing about eating boxed mac 'n' cheese for the third night that week in an miserably hot apartment when you have the love of your life by your side.
9. Finding yourself, while getting to know each other
The twenties are a pivotal time for identity formation. Young married couples have the unique opportunity of growing up together. Getting married before growing into yourself has its perks. "We're more intertwined than couples who wait. Our 'oneness' came right off the bat, not years after we were own selves," explained Lacy, who married her husband while they were still in college.