What I wish people knew about being a married twentysomething

I have a lot of friends who are in long-term relationships. I have a lot of friends who live with their partners. I have a lot of friends who are committed to their significant others and who imagine a future with them. What I don’t have is a lot of friends who are married — at least not friends who are my age and married, that is.

Generally, it seems many people in their 20s aren’t married because they know they have plenty of time for that later. Young adulthood is when most of us spread our wings, get started in our careers, travel, and move to new places to see what life has to offer. The common sentiment is that it’s far easier to do that while being unattached.

People my age may not have found the right person for them yet, they may want to become financially independent or pay off student debt first, or they may have a host of other reasons that are completely valid. Just because I’m married does not, by any means, translate to me thinking other people should be, especially if they aren’t ready to or if they simply do not want to be married. Many people will never tie the knot, and I think that is totally okay. People should do what is right for them.

I do, however, think getting married can be a great choice if you’re in a happy relationship with the person you intend to spend your life with, if you believe in or are not opposed to marriage, and if you are ready. I don’t believe getting married prevents people from experiencing many of the things other twentysomethings want to, or at least I don’t think it has to if you don’t let it. My husband and I have explored different jobs, moved across the country, and paid off student debt — and accrued more of it — together. The marriage certificate and rings on our fingers haven’t changed our ability to do any of the things other people our age do.

My husband and I got married nearly two years ago, when he was 24 and I was 26 years old. Since deciding that’s what we wanted to do, each of our lives have changed drastically. When my then-fiancé told me he was interested in attending law school out of the area, we made the choice of where we would consider moving together. I encouraged him through the tedious and trying application period, and I celebrated with him when he got accepted. We got married, moved out of state for his school, and then moved again when he transferred to a dream school across the country. During this time, my husband has been with me through the struggle of switching jobs and careers to the triumph of getting a literary agent to represent me for my fiction. He supported my decision to work from home writing personal essays and magazine articles while I pursue my dream of becoming a Young Adult and children’s book writer.

We could have done these things apart, but being together doesn’t stop us from reaching for our goals. In fact, I think being married has pushed us in a more positive direction. Having someone to share our lives with has helped us believe in ourselves, be brave and go for what we want. We encourage each other. We unite to make decisions. We can relate to past struggles, and we get to see each other become better versions of ourselves together. We are building a life together as partners.

Marriage takes work, no matter how old you are. And I think there are particular challenges that my husband and I have to work through because we are young. Attending law school and being married at the same time presents challenges for my husband that his single or dating friends don’t deal with on the same level. We aren’t established in our careers yet, so money is tighter than it would be if we married later in life. I’m sure we will continue to work on several things over the years, as every couple does, but I think some struggles we have are more about maturity than anything else. Although we might not have had to deal with some of this if we had waited, I wouldn’t change anything. Through it all, we get to know ourselves better as well as each other. We grow together and love each other more as we go.

I support friends who don’t want to get married, or who aren’t ready to and won’t be for a while. But I strongly believe marriage in itself doesn’t keep me from any important experience I would have if only I were single. I don’t feel tied down because I’m married — I feel emboldened. I feel cared for and supported. I know I am with the person I love the most, who will be with me through good times and bad. And, for me at least, that’s the best part of being a married twentysomething.

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