Marriage in your twenties wasn’t always considered “too young,” but that is how people reacted two years ago when they saw the ring on my finger at 24.
Today, only 26% of millennials are married before the age of 32, which is the lowest percentage of any generation before us. For Gen X., 36% tied the knot before 32. Nearly half of baby boomers were married before this age, and a majority 65% of the Silent Generation were hooked up for life before 32.
While I don’t think there’s an ideal age to marry, I do think that marrying in my twenties has brought many joys and blessings. Such joys are getting a bit tainted by today’s shifting norms as twenty-somethings now get inundated with reasons as to why marriage should wait.
Well, I didn’t wait, and I’m glad I didn’t. Here’s why:
One of the first lines of my wedding vows was how lucky I feel to have found my husband so young, for it has given us the gift of time. It is unpredictable when, where, and how we will meet our soulmate, and when we do, people like to counter with, “what is the rush to commit?” I like to say the opposite – why wait? Time is a gift, not a given. Once you’ve found each other, there’s nothing more rewarding than whole-heartedly joining each other in life. For some of us, this happens in our twenties. So what’s the rush? There isn’t one. We just don’t have any reason to delay.
There’s this idea that marrying later is better because it grants more time to discover yourself, which somehow translates to being more marriage ready. I think this can falsely prepare people to commit to another person only when they’ve “figured everything out.” The reality is that self-discovery is a lifelong journey. It doesn’t come to a halt after a certain age.
To marry someone is to recognize that you both will change over time, and so too will your relationship. You don’t trade in your identities at the altar, you vow to root each other on.
And, gaining a cheerleader for life is an incredibly positive force in one’s journey of self discovery, at any age, though I’ve found it to be particularly beneficial in my twenties – a time of navigating much uncertainty.
Not only has my marriage helped me further discover myself as an individual, but it has pushed me to grow in new ways that I wouldn’t have pursued on my own. Having another person to make choices with brings new adventures and challenges to light. I have eaten food I wouldn’t have ever tried and traveled to places I never would’ve seen if I were only ever dancing to my own beat.
Ironically, many people think that the best way to achieve such personal growth is to avoid marriage, implying it “locks you down.” Marriage can absolutely offer the kind of liberating adventures that broaden our horizons.
Having to share my life with someone has only opened my eyes to a bigger, brighter world.
We’re a country that overvalues work, though millennials have been pushing old-school workplace norms in favor of more balanced, blended lifestyles that embed purpose-filled passion into our careers. Still, our society tends to define purpose as something achieved in one’s career, even though it can absolutely be found in love and family. Marrying in my twenties has given me a healthy perspective on this sought-after goal of finding purpose in life. Balancing the start of my career with a new marriage simultaneously has shown me that it is possible to be goal oriented without having to forego love, and that purpose truly comes to us in many dimensions through various aspects of our lives.
I’m not advocating that marriage in your twenties is the key to finding purpose, self-discovery or growth, but rather, countering the negative thoughts floating around that marriage in your twenties is the death of these independent values. Love just re-defines them.