When I started working at Burger King at 17, I wanted to make money to buy a car. I got sidetracked when I met the woman who'd become my wife. It was love at first sight.
Well, it was love on my end; she hated me at first. She was a manager who had transferred from another location. She didn’t like the leadership I tried to exercise and quickly put me in my place.
What started as friction turned into friendship and then love. We were married six months after we met and the day after I turned 18. We were in the honeymoon phase and thought married life would be non-stop bliss forever.
It didn’t take long before the reality of being married young hit us. We learned some hard life lessons those first few years, and now we know that the odds of staying married were not exactly in our favor. The stats are pretty grim as to how many marriages survive these days, and couples who marry young are even more likely to separate.
What I can tell you is that you CAN get married young and beat the odds. My wife and I are celebrating 16 years of marriage this December. Here's what I wish we'd known back when we tied the knot:
1. You’re going to fight. (A LOT!)
Every couple fights, but the amount of fighting, and what you’ll fight over will be shocking. When you’re young, and money is tight, and you’re learning things about each other, and still figuring out who you are, there will be heated misunderstandings. The key is learning how to communicate effectively and authentically.
2. You’ll probably struggle with jealousy.
When you’re young, you might not be so great at managing difficult emotions, like jealousy. Unfortunately, getting married only amplifies that. After all, you've made the ultimate commitment to each other, so you're likely to feel jealousy if your partner even suggests anyone else exists. You want to be their one and only.
3. You’ll still be attracted to other people.
There are some beautiful people out there and you’ll look. And when you get married young, most of these people are single. Look once and let it go, that second look is what will hurt your marriage.
4. You will need some time apart.
During the honeymoon phase, everything is chocolate and champagne. But it doesn’t take long for the day-to-day of marriage to set in and you'll soon realize you need time apart. Don't worry when you do need a little space; time apart will help you miss and appreciate each other more.
5. Merging your lives can get messy.
When you get married, you’re combining two lives into one. Topics like money can get tricky. Maybe you're still figuring out how to earn it or save it. Your vision for your lives may change as you get older; it may not be what it was when you dated. Getting married young means that you're still figuring out who you are, and you're doing that while committed to another person. Get ready to really get to know each other as you go through this process.
6. You’ll lose some of your single friends.
Yes, some friends you have for life. But some single friends will fade away because your interests are different. They want to go out and meet people, while you just want to hang out. That's OK. It happens.
7. There’s only so many times you can have sex.
When you first get married, you won’t be able to keep your hands off of each other. Everyday will be a challenge to find a new position and crazy place to have sex. After a while, you'll need a break. (And some electrolytes.) You have to make your relationship about more than sex.
8. Your in-laws will get intimately involved in your life.
When you fight, one of you will likely want to talk to someone, usually a parent. The parent, of course, will have advice for both of you, and will get in your personal business. It’s going to be irritating at times, but it’s not a deal breaker.
9. You have to fall in love all over again … every day.
A wise counselor taught us that love isn’t a feeling. It’s a decision. There will be days when you think you’re falling out of love, there will be days when you think about calling it quits. Love is a decision to stop listening to your emotions, and choose to stay together through the tough times.
Love is waking up each day and recommitting to your partner. Love is deciding you'd rather die than violate your partner’s trust with someone else. Love is a daily decision that you might have to make multiple times a day.
If you wake up everyday and make the decision to love, the decision to put your partners needs first, you will beat the odds. If you’re honest and communicate, you’ll beat the odds.
Those first few years of marriage were rough, but they taught us how to love each other and to appreciate what we have. We made it and I know you can, too.
What about you? How are you or did you make a young marriage work?