It's true; I did.
So glad to have that off my chest! Now, here's a picture of The Child Bride on her wedding day:
Go ahead and gawk. I'm giving you permission and that's kind of awesome.
For a long time, I didn't enjoy talking about this. Not because I was unsure of my choice, because I never doubted it for even a second, but because of others' reactions:
You're so young.
You're too young.
You'll miss out on the fun of being single!
You aren't likely to graduate from college.
You're throwing away your life.
And I could go on.
Even at BYU, when people found out I was married, they'd almost always automatically ask about my age. Nice, right? It happened so often. Twice, three times a week. Co-workers, colleagues, even professors. Every time, I'd answer honestly and the expected reactions would ensue. Facial expressions ranging from slight discomfort to horror. The vague but revealing "Wow." Sometimes, very personal questions ("Did you have to get your parents' permission?" NO). And of course, the retroactive advice ("Aw, why were you in such a hurry? You should have enjoyed being single for longer!" I actually didn't enjoy being single, but ... thanks?).
And so, as these questions were continually fired in my direction, I became increasingly frustrated. I avoided the topic as much as possible. I even considered lying about my age or not wearing my gorgeous wedding ring to avoid the unsolicited questions about my marital status.
But after a few months of this crazy marriage-age dodgeball crap, I decided to keep wearing my ring and I tell the honest truth: Yes, this gigantic, shiny diamond on my left hand means I'm married. Yes, I'm young. No, it wasn't illegal. Now, can we move on to more important things, like this group project that's due in two days? Please?
Anyway, looking back I see that I was something of an anomaly and people were probably just curious about my situation. So, here I am to save the day for those who wonder inwardly what it's like to be a young married person (YMP). I've created this list of FAQ's for your enlightenment. Feel free to ask additional (kind!) questions in the comments if I didn't cover something.
Were you forced or even encouraged to get married young? Definitely NOT. In fact, pretty much everyone -- my friends, church leaders and family -- were leery of my decision up until the very end. My parents gave us their blessing and supported us during our engagement, but as you can imagine they were concerned. Getting married was 100% my choice, albeit one most people did not want me to make.
Were you pregnant? No. Also, in case there were any doubts, I'm not currently pregnant, either. Just thought I'd throw that out there for good measure.
How long did you two date? Dill and I dated for just over a year before getting engaged, and then we married two months later. So, 14, almost 15 months. Yes, we met when I was 17, hence the need for long, atypical-to-Mormons courtship. But I enjoyed every moment of it and I felt like I really knew Dill by the time we made things official.
Are you a polygamist? Definitely not, though I sometimes dress like one. Haha.
Did you have to get your parents' permission to be married so young? No. I was 18 (actually, almost 19), a legal adult. In the state of Arizona, you are only required to have parental consent if you are under 18. But, we were courteous and did ask for our parents' blessings beforehand.
Were you scared to get married? Not one bit! I was totally ready. I know that's hard to believe, but almost seven years later, I still feel the same way. Everyone leaves the nest at different times, and I left mine a little earlier than most. And I had absolutely no fear about the person whom I was marrying, which made it that much easier. He definitely has a good head on his shoulders. Driven, stable, kind-hearted, loving and supportive. I had nothing to worry about.
Did you always want to marry young? No way. After dating a few guys in high school and having some miserable experiences with that, I decided I was finished with this whole dating thing. Single 4 Life!!! I wouldn't even THINK about guys until I was a few years into college. I would graduate single, go on a mission, get a Master's, conduct high school choir for a few years and then get married. And of course, as soon as I made up my mind about this, I met Dill. Change of plans!
Do you ever regret marrying young? No. Never! I made my choice and I've chosen to embrace it fully. People will often insinuate I missed out on life by marrying at 18, but I can't begin to understand this -- I feel like all I've done the past 6 1/2 years is live life to the fullest! I can't really think of anything a person can't do while married (except for maybe dating a whole bunch of guys simultaneously, which I managed to do just fine in high school). You can travel. You can finish your college degree. You can have an illustrious career. You can be part of fantastic choirs. You can volunteer. You can exercise. You can do anything, and the best part is you get to do it all with the person you love more than anything else by your side.
It's basically the best.