Sunday, January 5, 2014

RESPONSE: 23 Things To Do Instead Of Getting Engaged Before You’re 23

The blog post, 23 Things To Do Instead of Getting Engaged Before You're 23 was going around last week and I couldn't help but have feelings about it.  After all, I was engaged AND married when I was 23 (yes, our engagement lasted six weeks - deal with it) and, having attended a religious college, I know plenty of people who have entered into matrimony before or around the age of 23 who are not only still married, but going strong.  And even though couples who get married in high school are statistically more likely to get divorced, I know a few who got married near the end of or immediately following high school who are still doing quite well.  The key to the success of these young marriages?  Maturity and realistic expectations.

After reading the post in its entirety I found that I agree with what seems to be the author's point: don't get married until you're ready for marriage.  It's pretty clear, however, that the author is naive about marriage and relationships in general, and what she prescribes are not experiences that will necessarily result in meaningful self-discovery or maturity.  In one excellent response post, after posting statistics about how people are actually marrying later and yet the divorce rate is higher, Baleigh Scott writes: "We don’t need to be marrying later, we need to be maturing earlier."

I really shouldn't have let "23 Things" get to me (the post is difficult to get through without steaming out the ears a bit); nevertheless, I had so many thoughts.  The first was how the real problem with young marriage is the focus on having a huge wedding and losing site of the actual marriage.  There is also a TED Talk that came to mind titled "Why 30 is Not the New 20" that I would have shown this girl had she been a friend of mine.  Finally, I wanted to ask her if she thought marriages were arranged?  Because she writes as though people marry strangers they hate and have to go through life with new, assigned interests, rather than getting to spend time with someone they like.

Feeling frustrated and expecting the worst, I was surprised to find the most comforting responses in the comment section (I know! The normally dreaded comment section).   Here's one of the best comments, from the user, Devon:
I’m 21, I live abroad, I’ve traveled to places like China, Hungary and now my current country France. I’m doing things like kissing strangers, and learning about the world around me as I travel. My parents married young, then divorced (for my mother, divorced twice) AND YET I still cannot help but cringe at your naïveté and self-righteousness. Your idea of marriage is entirely what would doom you to an unfulfilling union. I don’t care what age I am when I meet the person I want to spend my life with because I know if it’s the right person the adventure would never stop. Furthermore, you completely lost any validity to your point when you said you’ve experienced more in 23 years by travelling than people who have been married for a lifetime. Ugh, stop giving the other generations more fodder to hate us with.
With that I will leave you with my answers to the (highly ridiculous) list she provided of things I was suppose to do before getting married if I didn't want my life to be considered limited and meaningless:
1. Get a passport.

I did this when I was 19 and not only did I use it before getting married, but I've used it several times since getting married - both on my own and with my husband.

2. Find your “thing.”

I suppose my "thing" is costume design and construction; however, there are also several things I love doing outside of my profession.  Once again, I am able to work on these in spite of the great burden of being married.  I hope that the "thing" that I consider mine now will change and evolve as I get older and continue to learn about myself and the world (because one hopefully continues to grow into old age).

Oh, not to mention that there are "things" I get to have with my husband.

3. Make out with a stranger.

Done (not right now, I mean, I'm married! but once upon a time it happened).  It wasn't that awesome, but I suppose if that's something deemed an accomplishment, then go me!

4. Adopt a pet.

Pets have never been my thing.

5. Start a band.

To say I never wanted to start a band would be a lie; however, I was in choir and still sing, so I've had ample opportunity to make incredible music.  Plus, my husband owns a keyboard and we plan to learn to play.  Look at us, making goals and learning despite being married!

6. Make a cake. Make a second cake. Have your cake and eat it too.

I have made more cake being married than I ever did before.  I find it so much more fun to have someone to cook for.  Now before you get onto me about being forced into a "traditional gender role, bla, bla, bla" let me throw this at you: my husband cooks and bakes for me while I finish grad school. His cake is way better than my cake anyway.

7. Get a tattoo. It’s more permanent than a marriage.

I have two.  They can be removed.  They're also a lot less fun than hanging out with my best friend.

8. Explore a new religion.

 I'm pretty sure I can check this off my list.

9. Start a small business.

I don't want to?

10.Cut your hair.

Because you can't get your haircut after your married?  If you're that into cutting your hair then when you get married you have double the heads of hair to cut...

11. Date two people at once and see how long it takes to blow up in your face.

Ew, really? This is how you like to spend your time?  I have never, ever wanted this.

12. Build something with your hands.

Every. Single. Day.

13. Accomplish a Pinterest project.

Pinterest was barely coming around when I got married, but I am to happy to say that in spite of being married, I (and Ben) manage to make Pinterest projects happen.

14. Join the Peace Corps.

Like the band thing, I would be lying to say  I never thought about doing this. Do I regret not doing it? No because I find other ways to make a difference (as much as a married woman can, I suppose)

15. Disappoint your parents.

Hopefully you were able to do this WELL before 23... like any time in the ages between 12- wait, are you ever too old or committed to disappoint your parents?  That being said, hopefully you are past the phase of wanting to disappoint your parents, because that's how teenagers behave.

16. Watch GIRLS, over and over again.

I may not be interested in Girls, but I have other shows.

17. Eat a jar of Nutella in one sitting.

I like Nutella as much as the next person, but thinking about this gives me a stomach ache. I have, however, had my fair share of pints of ice cream.

18. Make strangers feel uncomfortable in public places.

I don't like making people uncomfortable?  Would you settle for enjoying conversation with a complete stranger?  Sharing a moment with a stranger?  This doesn't have to stop with marriage.  My husband does let me look at and talk with other people.

19. Sign up for CrossFit.

Really? No.  I do have a workout buddy (not my husband, again, he does allow me to interact with others) and I enjoy exercise.  That is surely enough.

20. Hangout naked in front of a window.

I spend more time naked now than I did before, even when I had the apartment to myself.

21. Write your feelings down in a blog.

Does this count?  However, one should really be careful about this seeing as how the internet is forever (longer than some marriages... or is that the point?  Like the tattoo thing?)

22. Be selfish.

As an only child, I think it is well beyond time for me to move on to the non-selfish stage in my life.

23. Come with me to the Philippines for Chinese New Year.

I would love to!  So would Ben.  Can we come together?

4 comments:

  1. I love this! I was fuming about that blog post to my husband yesterday. (P.S. totally signed up for crossfit after 3 years of marriage, by myself...does that make me a magical married unicorn?!?)

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  2. You are amazing and I miss you and your wonderful husband. I met my husband when I was 21 - I was engaged at 23 and married by age 24. I'm still married after almost 14 years (17 years together) and loving it. I have a great life with my hubby and guess what?!....I still feel like an individual that matters to the world and not a married drone. Our secret? Tremendous trust that we have each others happiness in mind when we make our individual choices. I feel like he wants me to be...well, me. And I married him because there was no one else in the world I wanted to help make happy.

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  3. This is so great. I fumed to Sam and then promptly read him your response. I got married post 23, but it was for some valid reasons, none of which fall in her list, surprisingly. We're in 6 months (Wooo!) and planning adventures for every corner ahead of us. We wish we were close enough to hang out with you guys!

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