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I was 20 years old and surrounded by my college classmates when my professor's question took me by surprise. Up until that point, I am not sure I had considered how strange it might seem to others that I had chosen to commit to one person for life at such a young age.
It was a fair question, I suppose, but I could see the disapproval all over her face. Chris and I simply decided we wanted to be married. And so we did. I walked down the aisle of my husband's childhood church in my $99 wedding gown and became a wife just two months after saying goodbye to my teenage years.
I am so grateful my husband and I got married young. His friendship and partnership is one of the main reasons I thrived during my early 20s. Still, I will be the first to say our life together has been full of challenges. That is the way marriage is, I suppose. Whether you are 20 or 40 when you tie the knot, marriage is a union full of unexpected lessons.
Committing to marriage so young has its own set of unique circumstances. I don't think I was naive when we said "I do" but I still found myself surprised by these 5 things no one tells you about getting married young.
1. People will question your decision ... even after you're married
When we were first engaged, I anticipated a lot of skepticism and discouragement from certain people in our lives. What I didn't expect was that the comments wouldn't stop once we tied the knot. The question from my professor was just the first of many negative reactions we would experience after getting married at 20 and 23.
2. You are going to change—a lot
There are also days when my husband takes me completely by surprise with the person he has become over the last six years.
For most 20-somethings, this decade is a time of unprecedented personality development. I am a completely different person than I was when we sat nervously side-by-side in the movie theater for the first time. There are also days when my husband takes me completely by surprise with the person he has become over the last six years. These big changes in our personalities have been challenging, to say the least. We've had to learn to give each other room to grow, while respecting how our own changes affect the other person.
3. Independence from your parents is a little harder
Being young and married seems to bring a lot of concern from the people who care for you. Not only are you newly married, you may also be just starting your career and living apart from your parents for the first time. Sometimes concern turns into doubt and their very best intentions may cause them to get too involved because they are afraid you are going to fail. Navigating and finding balance in your relationships with your parents may be a little awkward, but with time, you will figure it out.
4. You might lose your single friends
When you get married, some of your single friends might disappear. The truth is, your priorities change when you tie the knot, and this can sometimes make old friendships difficult to maintain. My biggest advice is that you do your best to be a good friend even during the honeymoon phase when you still want to be around your spouse 24/7.
5. Immaturity can cause big problems
Even the most mature 20-year-olds are still only 20. Young marrieds should expect immaturity to show up in unexpected ways. (It's usually during a fight.) The worst thing you can do is refuse to acknowledge your own immaturity. It is better to tackle it head on and grow from the challenges you face. You may even need some help from a therapist in order to make progress in particularly problematic areas of your relationship.
Don't get me wrong, I am a big supporter of those who want to marry young. I just think it is important we don't mince words about the obstacles that may come with the choice. Knowing what lies ahead means you can confidently and carefully move forward into a new and wonderfully challenging time of your life.