The Ups and Downs of Marrying Young

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The Ups and Downs of Marrying Young
He thought marrying your college sweetheart was for suckers. But then he did it.

I have certain preconceived notions about people who marry their college sweethearts. It's not fair, I know, but I do.

Such people are conventional, conservative, and timid. They prefer comfort and routine to excitement. In other words, they're nothing like my wife and me.

Emily and I met on the first day of college. In our freshman dorm, full of Long Island sorority girls and future corporate lawyers, we were the only two people wearing dirty overalls and thrift-store flannels.

I had long hair and played guitar (badly), which was all the justification Emily needed for befriending me. She had dyed streaks of blue into her own hair, and the stories she told reminded me of my own.

Now, at 29, we're considerably better groomed, and my embarrassment at being one of those people I look down on for marrying early is tempered by the knowledge that I couldn't imagine someone more perfect for me.

A doctor and proud science geek, Emily is smarter than I am—one of the smartest people I've ever met, in fact—but suitably awed by my expertise in the areas of pop culture, world history, and spelling. She's a feminine girl who can happily spend hours baking lemon squares, but she can drink straight tequila without making a face.

She's a compassionate soul who thinks seriously about issues like poverty and global health, but she does a hilarious impression of Mr. Burns from The Simpsons. Oh, and it doesn't hurt that she looks great in a slinky dress, and that her sexual fantasies involve other women.

In fact, I'd say we're perfectly matched. But "perfect" and "marriage" are two words that should never appear in the same sentence. Perfect is an outcome; marriage is a process that can be massively trying under the best circumstances.

Those of us in good marriages are usually reluctant to talk about our problems in public—perhaps to avoid seeming disrespectful to our spouses, or perhaps just out of superstition—but they exist all the same. Emily and I may see eye to eye most of the time, but we're married all of the time. How could we not come into conflict once in a while?

And our differences give us ample fodder for conflict. Keep Reading...

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