Love is in the air... I think.
Over winter break, so many friends from school got engaged, and during that same time, articles and blog posts everywhere started popping up about things to do instead of getting engaged by a certain time or age. I don't know if this phenomena of young marriages are just because I go to a Christian university or if it happens elsewhere, but you can let me know if it happens a lot at your school too. Here is one of the most popular ones of those posts, which quite frankly has a couple stupid and selfish items that I don't think people should do to mess with other people (see #11 of that post).
As someone who has been in a relationship for almost 4 years and still is in college and not engaged, I have something to say regarding the issue of getting engaged young and to the people who don't agree with people who get engaged young.
I'll start with getting engaged young.
Okay, so getting engaged while you're in college may not be the best idea, depending on your situation.
If it is your senior year and you and your significant other have been together for at least a year, then I think that getting engaged shouldn't be such a bad thing. I mean, I'm assuming that you two have fought and endured some hardships together and came out stronger as a result. If maybe a girl got pregnant and feels comfortable and loves the idea of spending the rest of her life with the father, then I can support that too, although getting married because of a baby will most likely cause lots of trouble in the beginning of the marriage, and maybe after but I wouldn't know.
Honestly, other than that, I don't think it would be best to get engaged to someone before that or if you haven't been with them for very long. I know that some couples date and marry within a few months, and I think that situation works best (doesn't mean it always does or that other situations don't work) when both people are out of college and maybe a little bit older and know exactly what they want. Why do I say that? Well, if you have been with someone for a few months, how can you be sure that you know all of their positive and negative traits? If you've been friends with them for a long time then sure, I give you that. But if you haven't, what makes you so sure that you truly know that person, inside and out?
Another thing I've heard while being at a Christian university is that people sometimes marry to be able to have sex, since it isn't a sin within the context of marriage. Now while I don't know how many couples actually do this, I sure hope that this isn't the basis of your marriage or why you want to get married. Basing your marriage completely on the physical aspect will bring upon other issues later, once you realize that a successful marriage requires more than sex.
And then there is the Pinterest wedding that so many girls want. I will be honest and say that I do have a wedding board on Pinterest and am not ashamed of it! I already know what I want in my future wedding, but that surely won't be happening anytime soon.
Why haven't I chosen to get engaged even though I've been in a relationship for a few years?
1. We are still young and want to enjoy our singleness while we can. And no, I don't mean single as in no attachments so we can do what we want with whoever we want. I mean single as in not married. My boyfriend's mom told me once, "Enjoy your singleness while you can," and she just passed 22 years of marriage and 29 years together with her husband, my boyfriend's dad. A healthy marriage will allow for both of you to have your own time to yourself, but when you get married, you become one. Meaning that free time for yourself will lessen dramatically and that person will become priority over everything else.
2. If we know we want to be together in the long run, why rush? We have the rest of our lives together, so we can take our time.
3. Because we are still young and our minds are still developing and changing, it is still possible that we can break up. And relationships have a chance of being broken up at any stage, but if we ever do (God-willing we don't, but I'm being realistic here) I would rather we break up while we are still unmarried and unengaged to each other.
4. Money. Well that should be self-explanatory. We are both broke college students, so why would we try and spend thousands more dollars that we don't have? Sure, our parents would probably help out (when the time is right), but they surely won't help now. And that brings me to my next point...
5. Our parents. Both my parents and my boyfriend's parents (and families) know very well about us being together and approve. One thing that they have always made clear is to finish school before getting married. My parents said this to me even when I was in sixth grade and wasn't dating anyone. It is reasonable though, because that way we can make sure we finish well and are able to support ourselves before we can financially support each other.
6. School. We're both still in school, and if the stress of school gets to me, what more if I'm in school and coming home to having to take care of someone else? I feel like college, regardless of relationship status, is meant for you to have time to yourself and figure yourself out. It is also the time for you to focus on yourself and the things you want to focus on.
Those are a few of the bigger reasons why my boyfriend and I have not chosen to get engaged right now. While I did say a lot of things against people getting engaged, I do also have some things to say to the people who hate it.
Why are you hating on young couples?
1. First of all, I think that writing posts that implicitly suggest that getting married is the end of your life and you are stupid for that is just plain rude! While there is truth to some of the things you lose and give up upon getting engaged/married young, it is not something to make like a disease.
2. I understand that there are those couples that may be super obnoxious about getting married or being engaged that you may feel compelled to hate on it. And I don't blame you, especially if it is happening everywhere and you're not engaged or you're single. Or even if a couple isn't obnoxious and is just too freakin' cute about their upcoming wedding, it puts lots of pressure on you (and your significant other if you have one) to try and rush to the altar.
However, if two people love each other and make the commitment to get married, that is a huge deal and takes huge guts to even get to that stage. To make the decision to commit to one person for the rest of your life is courageous. There are many people who can never even bring themselves to that point out of fear.
I understand that not every engagement announcement won't be the best news to hear, but attacking all young couples isn't right. Sure, the divorce rate is highest among younger married couples, but it isn't encouraging when you are bashing on them completely. And if couples are aware of that statistic and still decide to get married young anyway, well it was completely up to them to do that, and nothing you say will break them up and call off the engagement.
Shoot, I may even be one of those couples to get engaged before 23! Who knows. So while sometimes it is so easy to go straight to telling young couples that they are headed for failure and that they are wasting their lives, don't do it. Sometimes it's best to keep your mouth shut, whether or not you're right.
Besides, young couples like to take advantage of the idea that you two grow up together and get to accomplish all of your goals together, which I think is an awesome thing.
So no matter where you stand on this issue, just be aware of the other side and understand why they may be feeling that way. Marriages and long-lasting relationships are beautiful things, and everyone moves at their own pace.