I know that I blog about how dismally sad that I'm not married and I'm childless and all these other things at the age of 30. But the truth is, I am infinitely more grateful that I didn't get married at 19.
At the age of 19, it's hard to have a true understanding of what real life is like.
If you're lucky, you graduated from high school with little to no challenges. You weren't struggling to find creative ways in which to meet your basic needs. Shelter, food, and clothing were provided. The hardest thing I had to do was find a way to balance my part-time job, some homework, and wake up at 4:30 a.m. for early morning seminary. Once, I ran out of gas on the way to Edison. Once, my tire went flat at midnight on a country road. This was all before I had a cell phone. See? My life was hard.
I'm glad I had the opportunity to move out of my parents' house, and into an apartment. This is where it became critical to learn how to pay my bills. I had to balance my needs (rent, food, tuition) with my wants (those pants that fit because I wasn't actually buying food and that double-feature movie procrastination day). I lived a bunch of kids my own age and to varying degrees of success. Some of my roommates were gems that developed into long-lasting or lifetime friendships. Others were straight up trials, that helped me figure out how to deal with difficult people.
Life has been one barrel roll over a waterfall after the other. From my cars falling apart at the most inopportune times, to health or family challenges, and job changes, it seems like nothing is ever easy. That there's always something. And it always happens at the worst time.
But inbetween the trying times, there's the trips, the laughing fits with your best friends, the cozy meals, and the exploration of the city/state/country or the world. If I had been married at 19, I would have missed out on so many amazing experiences that have colored my life with happiness. I would not be friends with any of the men and women that I associate with now. It was during the ages of 19-25 that I really was developing into the person who I am today and to have been married during that time would have changed so much. And I'm not convinced it would have changed for the better.
At 19, you're still trying to figure out who you are.
How can you possibly know who you are if you have never lived on your own? If you have never dealt with anything outside of your comfort zone? If you have only a few years of part-time employment experience, and spent the rest of the time in a classroom studying things that you're guaranteed to forget instantly?
There's so much to know. And so much to experience. Trying to figure out a way to support a young family before you've learned how to support yourself seems ludicrous to me.
At 19, you haven't had enough relationship experience to know what you're doing.
I equate picking a spouse at the age of 19 to blindly picking out a boat before you know what kind of water you'll be in.
And honestly, it doesn't hurt to test out some of the boats, before you know how they'll handle the crash of the waves, or the bends in the rivers. Do you really want to take that rowboat into the open ocean? Or try and fit that cruiseline down a mountain stream?
Sometimes you choose correctly. I do understand that. But at 19, how can you have really had enough experiences in relationships, to know you're making a choice that you are going to be happy with 10 or 20 years from now? In what other scenarios is is appropriate to just pick the very first thing to come along and go with it in full confidence?
I think it should be illegal to marry before the age of 25. (Ok, maybe 24.)
This seems extreme, but I really believe it. Even in Mormondom, where we expect everyone to save sex for marriage, I think that it doesn't hurt to experience a little bit of life outside of college, outside the realms of these very temporary blips of our life stories. Once you've graduated, and found at least the first step in the ladder of your career, things start to settle. You start to realize that life is always going to be crazy, and if it isn't one thing, it will be the other, but you'll have a strategy with how to deal with it. You'll know how you handle all kinds of life situations, and know what kind of person you'll need in a life partner in order to help you be successful. Or in helping you become a better person.
I believe that every relationship you're a half in, should help you become a better person. If there are people that are dragging you down, then you shouldn't continue with the relationship. But if you don't know what kind of person you are, then you don't really know where to set the bar! And it should be equal. You should be encouraging those around you to be better people and to grow in some way. If you don't know who you are, then you won't know what kind of influence you are on other people, either.
There are sometimes I wish that I were married, and that I had begun this other stage in my life. I get tired of what I feel like is ACT I. Marriage and babies would be my ACT II and I do feel like I'm ready for that scene change. But the thought of starting ACT II at the age of 19 would have been a huge detriment to my story. There would have been too many plot holes, and too many characters cut. Yes, ACT I has been long-going, but, I wouldn't cut anything from it. It makes me sad to think that there are so many that do without truly weighing in what they are losing.