When the engagement of Miley Cyrus was announced earlier this month there was a lot of debate about her being too young to marry. I normally would have been one of the critics…then something changed.
I was older than the average bride. And ten years older than my mother when she got married. This was fine by me. In fact, until recently, my advise for everyone was to wait until at least their late 20s to get married. I read all the opinions and research which indicated that those who get married later in life have a better success rate of staying married. And I was very happy being single.
However, last year my husband and I attended a conference and received a book that helped me see a different perspective. The book is called Young and in Love: Challenging the Unnecessary Delay of Marriage by Ted Cunnigham. The gist of his talk and book are that most young people today have too much privilege and not enough responsibility.
Even though my parents did a great job, I know I was spoiled. Most American kids are – we have way too much stuff that’s mostly handed to us on a silver platter. And I agree with the author when he states that this is not preparing us for adulthood very well, nor marriage.
His message is NOT to run out, find a spouse, and get married at 19, but to support young people that are already in relationships and want to get married. I like that the author is not advocating that all young people get married ASAP…rather, he outlines some unnecessary delays of marriage along with some necessary delays.
I’m ashamed to tell you that I used to judge people who got married at a young age – even my parents (who’ve been married for 36 years, by the way). However, it’s refreshing to be challenged on something that might have had a negative impact on the way I raise my kids.
I used to question whether it was actually possible for 19 year-olds to really understand what love means… But who am I to judge? Am I the love expert? No.
My husband and I had an interesting dating relationship – we dated on and off for six years before we got engaged. (I’ll save that story for another day.) When I think back about the whole situation…part of me wishes we got married sooner. Just thinking about all the time apart that we could have had together makes me sad. I don’t really believe in regrets; but if I did, that would be one of them.
I thought I needed time to find out who I really was, to explore, to live on my own. But in all honesty, I was just being selfish. In nearly two years of marriage, I’ve learned so much and I’ve grown up a bunch.
It’s too bad I couldn’t have done that earlier – might have saved me some heartache. Not that I didn’t learn from that too, but who says we have to experience the pain from the bad relationships? We don’t. It’s not like I’m a better person because of that pain. I may be more grateful for the awesome man I have now, but I’ve always known he is awesome. Here’s the thing – if we take it seriously, marriage forces us to stop being so self-centered. And it’s a great thing.
While we may not adhere to all this speaker/author says, it made my husband and I think about the way we want to raise our children. We want to prepare them for adulthood and marriage. We will teach our children about responsibility while being open to the idea, should they choose young love.
So Miley – go ahead – follow your heart. Be responsible, take it seriously and get married!