Nobody likes you when you're 23: getting engaged young

Pretty much the only photo I took at my birthday party.

I turned 23 just over a month ago and it got me thinking about age and engagement. Only one generation ago, the median age for a woman to first get married was 22 (my age when we got engaged) and marrying in your early twenties was the norm. But now many view getting engaged or married in your early twenties as risky or naive. This may sound like a generalisation and honestly, the vast majority of people we told we were engaged were extremely happy and excited for us. However, I did have a few negative experiences when telling people the news. The most common negative response being as follows -' old are you again? you're quite young aren't you?'. This isn't the worst response in the world, don't get me wrong, but it still feels pretty shitty when you're telling someone something you're over the moon about and they seem concerned as opposed to happy. I even found myself responding with how many years me and Josh have been together, how many years we have lived together, etc when really I shouldn't have to defend our choices at all (even though I undoubtably will in this blog post).

I won't pretend I've never seen an engagement spring up on social media and questioned whether the marriage will work out. For some reason, engagements surprise many of us more than pregnancy announcements. So why do we have these views and worries? And why do we feel that it is okay to judge people for their decision to agree to commitment at a young age? I thought I'd look into common views around marrying young and discuss them in this blog post.

The majority of arguments against young engagement/marriage basically won't work out, you're more likely to get divorced.

You're still growing up and will be facing a lot of changes

This argument goes that as you are still young you will face a lot of changes/decisions such as where do you want to live? What job do you want? So on and so forth. As a young couple both of you will be dealing with these questions, so what if the answers don't add up and you want different things?

I can understand this view, especially if you are very young (i.e. 16) and have no idea what you want. However, I can't imagine agreeing to marry someone without knowing that we would fully support each other regardless of our where our decisions may take us. A great example of this is that earlier this year I wanted to apply for a graduate scheme which meant that we would potentially have to move elsewhere in the UK and that we would not know where we would be moving until several months after applying. I sheepishly asked Josh about this and he told me that we should do it. He said that as a teacher he would always be able to get work and that we needed to take the chance (what a guy).
Although this argument is presented as one against young couples, I honestly think that it can be applied to couples of any age. Many older couples I know have faced one partner getting a new job and having to travel/move or even one partner giving up their current work to be able to move in with their significant other (sometimes meaning having to move country). People are flexible and at every point in life you might have to compromise; it's whether you're willing to.

You'll miss out on experiences

The idea behind this argument is that young couples will miss out on early experiences - dating, going out with friends... basically, being in your twenties.

Me and Josh met at university, have lived with housemates for 5 years (the past 3 years we have also lived together), see friends/go out with friends every week, have both had previous long-term relationships. We have a go for it sort of attitude with one another - you want to go travelling alone this summer? Do it! You and the girls are thinking of going to Iceland? Do it! You want to start up a new course/volunteering opportunity that will take up several nights of your week? Do it!
We push one another to be better and do more, meaning that being with Josh I have gained so many experiences and again it comes down to the couple, regardless of age. If a couple hold one another back and don't allow for new experiences then so be it, but that can happen with a couples in their early twenties or much later in life.

You're not mature enough

Basically, this arguments suggests that getting married young is a bad idea because you haven't had enough life experiences and are not mature enough to enter a life-long commitment.

I understand that the younger you are the less you are likely to have experienced, however where do we then draw the line that states you are now 'x amount of years' and therefore you have experienced enough. Maturity is not something that just happens when you hit a certain age, it is built up through experiences and challenges you have faced. We have both lived away from our hometowns for 5 years, have had periods where our relationship has been long-distance, we pay our own bills/rent, have jobs, a car, etc. For us, engagement was the next logical step.

Although I have just spent time going through a few key arguments against getting engaged/married young in relation to my own relationship, the experiences I have discussed aren't necessarily the driving factors that led us to think we were ready to get engaged. For us, it's that we're happy, in love and that we've seen each other at our worst and our best. I read an article online recently that summed up my own feelings on whether you're "ready" and I'll end with a few words from that -

'I've worked with a lot of couples who have strong relationships, and they met and fell in love [...] and really got to know each other's friends and family. They got to experience what it's like to live with each other or spend a lot of time with each other, go through some life cycle issues, like the loss of a family member or loss of a friendship, or going to a wedding or funeral and really getting to see each other in a lot of different contexts and feel like it's a good match [...] it's more the range of experiences that lend themselves to compatibility rather than the amount of time.'

Honestly, if you're happy go for it! No one knows your relationship better than you guys do!

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