17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.
 

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

I Was A Teenage Bride

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingToday marks the 10th anniversary of my marriage to an amazing man. When I tell people how long I have been married I am often met with looks of surprise and then the comment "You look so young!". Well the truth is, I am young to have been married ten years because I was a teenage bride.

I met my dh during the second semester of my freshman year of college. He was six months off his mission and caught my attention with his American flag Converse shoes in Country Dance 101. Three months later we were engaged and three months after that we were married. I was eighteen.

We have had a few other celebrations in our home this week. Our oldest daughter, Princess, turned four and our youngest, Pumpkin, turned one. I can't believe how time flies. The next thing I know, they are going to be eighteen, I am going to be sending them off to college, and they could getting married. I get a little nervous thinking about the advice I will give them about dating and marriage as they go off to start lives of their own. Most people in the world (and in the church) would say "Don't get married young", "Find yourself", "Stay single so you can travel and have adventures", "When/If you find someone, date for a long time-that's the only way to really get to know each other". While in my head this advice sounds reasonable and logical I just don't think I can pass it on. Why? Because not following this kind of advice is what worked for me. Not following this kind of advice has brought me to a life I really love and have never once regretted. Some would just shrug off the success of my "young marriage" as pure luck, but I know the spirit never leads you to path only to leave you there to depend on luck.

On the other hand, thinking about either of my girls coming home at age eighteen with a fiance in tow totally freaks me out. Either my parents hid their true feelings well, or I was totally oblivious to their apprehension because I don't remember them freaking out too much. Now that I am a parent, I can be sure they must have overflowing with concern.

I think I would like to take the focus off the actual timeline of marriage and concentrate on teaching them to be independent, strong, spiritual and intelligent women, who will be ready and able to make their own good choices about dating and eventually marriage whenever (or if ever) those decisions come along.

So what do you think a "Once-a-teenage-bride, happily-married, now-a-mother-of-two-girls" should pass on as marriage advice?

I assure you I won't advise them that marrying young is the only road to happiness-because it's obviously not, but I also think advising them only the opposite would be a mistake as well.

The real truth is I may not have to worry about it at all. I think my husband's plan is to lock the girls up in the house until they are at least 25 while denying them access to not just make-up but also deodorant, razors, face wash, and contact lenses in hopes to keep the boys at bay.


21 Comments:

  • I think you already said it perfectly when you you wrote:

    I think I would like to take the focus off the actual timeline of marriage and concentrate on teaching them to be independent, strong, spiritual and intelligent women, who will be ready and able to make their own good choices about dating and eventually marriage whenever (or if ever) those decisions come along.

    Couldn't have said it better myself. And happy anniversary by the way!
    posted by Blogger Beth at 8/23/2006 09:40:00 AM  



  • I agree with Beth. "Too young" is really just code for 'too immature' or 'too naive.'
    I've known 30 year olds that were 'too young' to get married, and 19 year olds that weren't. Perhaps your parents weren't nervous about your marriage because they recognized that you were mature enough to know what you were doing.
    posted by Blogger Starfoxy at 8/23/2006 10:21:00 AM  



  • This is where I feel it's really important to teach your kids how to recognize the promptings of the spirit. Teach them to think critically, and then to submit to the Lord's will even if it's not what seems "conventional" or even the best option.

    I would've been unhappily married at 18 had I not listened to the spirit. And I wouldn't have been happily married at 19, as I was, had I not paid attention to the spirit.
    posted by Anonymous Emily at 8/23/2006 10:32:00 AM  



  • You got married at 18? Are you crazy?

    I have not even contemplated this "my daughters bringing home a fiance thing" thanks a lot, now I won't be sleeping tonight.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 8/23/2006 11:20:00 AM  



  • I read this post this afternoon, and it's been marinating. So when I saw this post this evening: http://cjanerun.blogspot.com/2006/08/in-my-quest-to-be-at-peace-with.html I knew I had to share here. Check out this part in the middle of the post (I hope it's ok if I'm reposting a little taste here):

    "It's fine if you want to be a wife and a mother more than anything else, she said, but it doesn't mean that wifehood and motherhood don't require an educated background. Most specifically, she said that of pursuing a serious study of yourself.

    Know what makes you sad.
    Know what makes you happy.
    Know what makes you scared.
    Know what makes you secure.
    And know WHY."

    I LOVE THAT. That's what I want to teach my daughters about what they should have covered before they get married, no matter the age.
    posted by Blogger Julie at 8/23/2006 06:31:00 PM  



  • Happy Anniversary! I agree with the maturity comment. I definitely would not have been ready for marriage at 18, but many of my friends were and, like you, have wonderful lives. I got married at 24. We were engaged after 2 weeks - something I said I would NEVER do, but we've had a great 8 year ride.

    I don't even like to think of my daughters arriving at that time in their lives, but I hope by then they will be close enough to the spirit to recognize its promptings and know what is right for their individual lives.

    Hope you had a great anniversary!
    posted by Blogger Namona at 8/23/2006 07:41:00 PM  



  • Happy Anniversary!

    I ditto what beth said at the top. I don't think you should be worried at all --you are an amazing mother and one that I stand in awe of everytime I'm around you.

    I like this post. I was a teen bride, too. :) Oh, and I guess I've got the 2 daughters, too...
    posted by Blogger Cheryl at 8/23/2006 09:50:00 PM  



  • As a teenage bride(19) with two boys(but only 8 years) under my belt...well said, and Happy Anniversary!
    I think many lasting young marriages have much to offer those starting out. Many marriages end because "we just grew apart". When you grow up together you learn to find your way and still hold fast to your family. It gives you a few extra years to fine tune the balancing act.
    Is it a good choice for everyone? Certainly not.
    Is it a BAD choice for everyone?
    Definitely not.
    I like what Julie said about knowing yourself. My mother stressed that point to me growing up, and I think it's important for all our children to learn.
    posted by Blogger Mo Mommy at 8/23/2006 10:25:00 PM  



  • Happy 10th, you teenage bride, you! Being an 18 year old bride worked out for you; for others it doesn't. Heck, being a 35 year old bride doesn't work out - it's all about the emotional maturity of the person/people and the circumstances. Plus, when it's right it's right - you can't do much about the timing. Which is something we as parents all have to remember, not only with marriage but all milestones in the lives of our children.

    Great post - love the title, btw.
    posted by Blogger chloe at 8/24/2006 12:18:00 AM  



  • Thanks everyone for your comments.

    "Too young" is really just code for 'too immature' or 'too naive.'

    Starfoxy, I agree somewhat with you are saying except most people who say "too young" really don't think there is any way that a 18-19 year old could ever be "mature enough" for marriage. There just hasn't been enough time for "real life" experience. That is how they connect readiness with a timeline. I really thought some of these people on the other side would comment as there has been a lot of talk around the BLoggernacle advising against young marriages. Maybe they're just scared of young marriage success stories :)

    "Know what makes you sad.
    Know what makes you happy.
    Know what makes you scared.
    Know what makes you secure.
    And know WHY."

    Julie, these are great questions to ask yourself in preparation for marriage, but self-discovery at age 18, or 25, or even 30 will obviously yield completely different answers to these questions- and not any group of answers is any less "true". "Knowing yourself" is a ongoing process because everyone changes over time. Being able to cope with change is also an invaluable life skill.

    When you get married young, you do (like Mo mommy said) "grow up" while you are together--and contrary to what some may believe, that's not always a bad thing.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 8/24/2006 08:19:00 AM  



  • C - I also loved the title and the picture!!!

    I don't think it was "luck" that your marriage lasted and you are happy at all. I know you well enough to know that before you even married DH, you knew exactly what you wanted out of your schooling and out of a career. So when DH was in law school, you were pursuing a career, traveling ..... basically doing all of those 20-something things that (I feel) are important life experiences to have.

    Do most 18 year olds who get married have your focus and determination...and talent? No. Let's be honest about the usual pattern. 18 year old girl gets married, helps support her DH through school (maybe she gets a degree too), and starts having kids soon after. I see it over and over. Even now. Even in my own family where my parents did their best to raise independent and strong girls. There are too many extraneous factors that could get in the way of making a sound decision on marriage at 18... hormones, peer pressure, need to grow up too fast. And I think a lot of 18 year old girls (and 21-year old RMs) confuse true spiritual prompting with their hormones.

    I don't think I could recommend marriage at 18 for my daughters ... or ANYONE'S daughters...although for my own daughters I would try and keep quiet about my opinions for fear they would do it in rebellion.

    The only happy teenage brides I met in the Crib, and they are such extraordinary people that I could never be able to say....it worked out great for X, so I'm sure my daughter will be fine.

    Great thought-provoking post, C.
    posted by Blogger Jen at 8/24/2006 08:36:00 AM  



  • I am in almost the exact same situation (we'll be celebrating our fourth anniversary in December). I was 18, he was 22, only I can tell you for a fact my parents freaked out. My mom did everything to try and get me to call it off, and when I told her that was never going to happen, she tried to make me put it off for five months (to which I responded "do you want me to get married in the temple?" and then she kinda jumped on the bandwagon). It took some time to convince her. Even after we were married every time we'd have a little fight I could tell she was worried. It wasn't until we had our first daughter that she relaxed a little.

    Now I'm pregnant with our second little girl and due any day now. I wonder a lot of the time what I'm going to tell them. If they'll use my choices to justify theirs. I really hope that I can teach them what everyone else has posted here. That it's a maturity thing, not an age thing. That every situation is different. And to follow the spirit. Hopefully that will be enough. And hopefully I'll be able to take my own advice and trust their decisions.
    posted by Blogger Trivial Mom at 8/24/2006 09:19:00 AM  



  • Happy Anniversary. 10 years is a long time. Congrats to you guys.
    posted by Blogger Isabel at 8/24/2006 09:58:00 AM  



  • Namona,

    2 weeks! Can you imagine what you will do if one of your kids springs the same thing on you?

    Jen,

    Thanks for your comments. I know you represent a popular school of thought on the matter and one that I do not entirely disagree with. But, I think hormones, peer pressure, and the need to grow up are factors just as much at age 25 or 30 as they are at 18. And to me, missing out on "life experiences" doesn't necessarily have to be a result of getting married young as it is more of a reflection of the attitude of the person going into the marriage. I hope my girls will see that marriage does not mean the end of their personal pursuits.

    Which is why I think speaking of readiness in age terms doesn't do much to help in actually preparing our children for marriage. I won't recommend marriage at 18 for my daughters either. But, I won't tie a recommendation for marriage to any specific age.

    When people keep saying "young marriage is a bad idea" it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    I will also not keep my own marriage story will a secret from them. I hope I can be honest in sharing the good and the bad of getting married young and also the good and the bad of getting married later in life and the good and the bad in never marrying at all. And then I'll just pray that they follow the direction of the spirit as they follow their own life path.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 8/24/2006 10:39:00 AM  



  • Thanks for this. DW and I were married at 18 and we are fast approaching 10 years (Thanks for the reminder). I can only echo your sentiments about emphasising maturity as a precursor to marriage for my kids. We had alot of opposition from friends and family, but thing have gone great so far. I plan on relating both the positve (helping each other through school) and the negative (finances early on) hwen I share our experiences with the kiddos.
    posted by Anonymous john scherer at 8/24/2006 12:31:00 PM  



  • Carrie, I met a woman this weekend at a party - bunch of girls from the ward were there - and she was talking about her husband being in the military the whole 15 years of their marriage. I looked at her and thought, Wow, she doesn't look like she's in her late 30's or even 40. Well, that's because she's only 32. That's right, do the math. The woman got married when she was 17. This completely blew my mind. Then I thought about the times I've seen her with their 4 kids, the interaction I've seen between her and her husband. Whatever they are doing works because they are happy and their kids are happy.

    Would I want to get married at 17? Nope. Would I want my daughter to get married at 17? Even bigger nope. But sometimes, it works out just fine.
    posted by Blogger chloe at 8/24/2006 02:05:00 PM  



  • Okay - I just have to give say that DH & I grew up in the same, SMALL town. We didn't know each other, but knew of one another. And we knew members of each other's family. (Small town means we were familiar with each other's background too.) We met after we had both gone to school and on missions.

    Both sides of the family were great about the quickness of it. I guess they all knew it was "right" too.

    The reason I always said I would never marry quickly is that I saw so much of it at BYU, and a lot of the quickies I saw had a hard time.

    But then I went and did it myself! :) We both knew it was the right thing to do, though, and there have never been any doubts.

    Now, if one of my girls springs something similar on us, I have no idea how I'll feel. I think that's one of the hardest things as a parent - to teach them the best that you can and then stand back while they make their own decisions. I liked the post a few days ago by a guest contributor about her daughter taking the swim test. I hope I can be like that - down in the water cheering her on, but letting her do it herself!

    Thankfully, we've got quite awhile until that day!
    posted by Blogger Namona at 8/24/2006 05:20:00 PM  



  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
    posted by Blogger Todd L. at 8/24/2006 08:43:00 PM  



  • Somehow, I remember the details of our engagement a little differently. In fact, I remember Carrie's parents being more than a little apprehensive about the whole thing - to the point that her Dad kindly reminded us right before we headed to the alter that it wasn't too late to call the whole thing off! : ) But maybe that had something to do with the fact that Carrie had not even bothered to mention my name to her parents before I called them to ask for their blessing on our soon-to-be engagement. Carrie had warned me that I MUST ask her dad's permission before popping the question b/c he is very traditional like that. Somehow she didn't also think to give her parents any kind of heads up.

    The conversation went something like this:

    Future Father-in-law: "Hello"

    Me: "Hi, it's Todd L. calling."

    FFIL: "Who?"

    Me: "Uh, Todd L. I have been dating your daughter Carrie for about three months now."

    FFIL: "oh, okay."

    awkward pause

    Me: "well, uh, it's getting kind of serious, and I wanted to get your blessing to ask Carrie to marry me."

    FFIL: awkward pause

    Me: "hello?"

    FFIL: "wait, seriously, who are you again? Tom? And how do you know Carrie? Last we heard she had just sent a missionary into the MTC."

    Worst conversation of my life. Thanks Carrie.

    As to our children . . . Carrie is right, I am going to do all I can to keep them away from boys as long as possible. Do I need a permit for a shotgun in CA?

    I don't want my children getting married at 18 years old, but I am not sure why. I don't really believe that much of what happens during courtship/engagement determines whether you have a successful marriage. Dating is pretty much a succession of lies, and I'm not sure it matters whether the liar is young or old or lies for 3 months or two years. Once married, the masks come off and the work (and fun) of marriage begins.

    So, while I would like to take credit for a successful marriage by saying that Carrie and I were mature and independent enough to handle getting married young, the truth is that I just plain got lucky. I married an incredible woman who has grown more beautiful, more loving, more patient (that one has surely been important), and more wonderful than I ever could have imagined ten years ago. Meanwhile, I have somehow managed to avoid the major pitfalls that could have derailed my charmed life.

    That, it seems to me, is the real key to a successful marriage - a lot of luck and the knack for not screwing things up too badly.
    posted by Blogger Todd L. at 8/24/2006 08:46:00 PM  



  • Todd,

    Even though it seems you disagree with practically everything in my original post, your sentiments at the end of your comment were very sweet. Thanks.

    I will forever be sorry for not preparing you or my parents better for that awkward conversation.

    Oh, and Jen, I meant to tell you that if you click on the picture, it links you to the site that sells all sorts of stuff with vintage photos of women with funny taglines. You have to check it out. Zinone sent me this particular postcard in the mail a while back. It was perfectly funny.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 8/25/2006 08:01:00 AM  



  • Congrats on 10 years!

    And regarding the missionary Todd mentioned that you sent off to the MTC (actually, the missionary before that one) - thanks.
    posted by Blogger rebecca at 8/25/2006 05:48:00 PM  



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