From someone who's been there.
Dear Young Bride,
I was you. My husband and I got married six years ago this June, when we were 21 and 22 years old. This was young even by the conservative standards of the small southern town where I grew up. Jonathan and I didn't know much about anything when we got married, but we knew we were in love, committed to each other and saw no reason to wait.
And it's been six years, so I think I'm now in a place to give you some advice. Take the following with a grain of salt, as I know you will. You are young, after all. Here is my honest advice for you:
1. Marrying young is not for everyone. Be prepared.
I would not recommend that everyone get married at 22. When I hear now about people fresh out of college getting married, my first thought is "That's not a great idea" before I remember that we were that age, too.
When you marry young, you have to be prepared for the hard parts. The ugly secondhand furniture. Tiny apartments. Debt. Someone going back to school. One or the other of you figuring out what you want to do with your life. The career changes. Unemployment. Wondering what to do when there is more month than money. Lots of uncertainty.
Some of these hard parts may cause you to go through periods where you fight. A lot. You may yell and scream and say things you don't mean. That's OK. Remember why you are in this.
2. Finish your education.
Marry a man who wants the best for you, not just for himself. What is best could involve you going back to school, if you want to. Becoming more educated makes you a better partner and person.
3. Wait a few years before babies.
One great thing about marrying young is that you have a few years to just enjoy being together before feeling any kind of pressure from your biological clock. That time alone together before babies is so sweet and is really important to building a solid foundation in your marriage.
And when you do have children, you will still be young parents with plenty of energy, ready to handle all of that sleep deprivation like a champ.
4. Realize that you will both change tremendously.
Understand that the person you marry at 22 is not the same as who you will be married to at 28, let alone 32. Understand that you will change a lot, too. Be willing to roll with these changes alongside your husband and stay in sync with him through it all. Don't begrudge him for growing and developing as a person, and don't let him do it to you, either.
5. Know that it is worth it.
All marriage is hard. Marrying young has some additional challenges that can make it harder. But with the right person, it is so worth it.
There is something wonderful about being in love with one person for your entire adult life. About seeing that person grow and change with time. About having such a long shared history. About seeing the 18-year-old boy you fell in love with become the father of your child.
Young bride, I wish you the best. It will be hard. You'll want to quit sometimes. But if you hold on, I promise it will be worth it.