In the 60s, the average age for a couple to get married was 20 (the girl) and 23 (the guy). Nowadays, couples are statistically waiting until their late twenties (think 27-29).
This shift is crazy interesting, with a number factors at play (some of which I heard from people voicing their doubt in my own young engagement).
- – Co-habitation isn’t against the norm anymore.
- – Women are focusing on their careers first.
- – Couples are waiting to be more financially viable.
Blah blah blah, the list goes on. My feelings on this: do whatever works for you.
But I got married at age 22 and these are my anniversary reflections on teaching myself how not to be a shitty wife.
01. Try not to keep score.
Man, oh, man. This one is hard. While I’m all for balance in housekeeping and finance, sometimes it’s going to be unequal. Sometimes that’s in your favor, sometimes it isn’t. There was a quote from the book 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works–A True Story that I cannot seem to find again but it applies here.
To paraphrase: there’s a voice in your head that’s a greedy, 6-year-old. It’s taking stock of what everyone else is getting and comparing it to what you got.
It’s really tempting to make that mental list of things
“I cooked last night, it’s their turn.” Or “I always do the dishes, why aren’t they doing it after I’ve asked?”
But that thought process is extremely damaging. Here’s a little more insight into it from people much smarter than I:
02. Don’t stew about issues, address them directly
To follow up the former… I’m not saying that I’ve become a doormat. If there are real problems that need to be addressed, then I’ve learned that it’s important to just fucking talk about it.
It’s going to be uncomfortable. They might get defensive. You guys might fight. Even the freakin’ Dali Lama loses his temper sometimes.
But stewing on negatives is cowardly and unproductive. If your spouse had a real issue, wouldn’t you want it brought to your attention? I know I would.
Here’s an article that has helped me:
03. Little surprises will make you both happy
This one’s not particularly revolutionary, it’s kind of obvious yet very easy to forget. And (bonus!) there’s actually scientific research to back this one.
“Brain scans have showed that acts of kindness registered more like eating chocolate than, say, fulfilling an obligation. The same pleasure centers lit up when we received a gift as when we donated to charity. Neuroscientists referred to it as the “warm glow” effect.”
(also from 10% Happier)
04. Keep in mind the “season of life” thing
This rings particularly true for younger people. When we first moved into our tiny house with no running water and heated by an old-school wood stove, my grandfather-in-law said something that’s stuck with me:
“When you look back on this place in 25 years, you’ll laugh.”
It wasn’t an insult, just a reality. My parents lived in a shitty little apartment for years as they found their bearings. Everyone starts somewhere. And the discomforts that this tiny little house brings me (like frozen water pipes in the main house for a month) just help me to appreciate the ease of flushing a toilet or washing dishes without having to boil a pot of water. This is just my season of life. It might change soon, it might take a while. But it’s eventually going to change.
I sometimes find that 6-year-old voice taking stock in where my friends are (living in a beautiful city apartment with a balcony or even just living within driving distance of their family). But, in all reality, I’m damn lucky to have what I have and be where I am.
I’m not a “real adult” and that is okay.
A little over a year ago, we adventured to Idaho to attend “Engaged Encounter” pre-marriage prep class. An extremely boring, slightly intrusive two-day “sleep away” camp with several other couples.
Maybe I went in with a closed mind, but the only real thing that I took away from this experience was this:
I know I’m not a fully formed adult yet, there’s challenges and changes still in front of me (now “us,” I suppose). But I’m damn lucky to grow up with my best friend.
I wanna hear from you… are you against young marriage? Why? Or why not?
Or if you are married, please share your very best tips on making it work! I’ve got a lot more years ahead of me.
Wanna keep up with us?