Monday, June 6, 2011

Monday Marriage Matters: Age Matters

Today is my birthday. I tell you this not because I want you all to wish me a happy birthday, but because I was thinking a lot about how I was eighteen when I met Mark, and seven birthdays later, here we are, still together.

Seven birthdays is a lot when you are only 26. Seven birthdays means that I was a teenager when I met my husband.  Seven birthdays means that somewhere, along the way, I went from being a confused and lonely college kid still trying to figure out her life to a lawyer.  I mean, seriously. When I met Mark, I had a lot of growing up left to do.  I suspect he did as well, he just did a better job of covering it.  At least these days, he's off to work in pants that don't have holes in them and a shirt that fits him.

I think having an older boyfriend in college helped me grow up a little bit faster - Mark was already extremely responsible, and so I started to be more responsible, because I wanted to impress him (and also make sure he didn't think it was a mistake to date somebody who was quite a bit younger than him.)  We also struggled a lot with the fact that we wanted to have a mature and adult relationship, but we weren't really adults yet.  So we started to mimic adult behaviors.  Adults did things like went on vacations together.  So we tried to go on vacations together.  Some of them were successes, some of them were failures, but all of them were learning experiences.  Adults went grocery shopping and cooked dinner together.  So we did that.  Adults went to bed at a reasonable time, and then got up in the morning at a reasonable time.  So we did that.  Adults had arguments. So we did that. Adults did the laundry and cleaned the kitchen. So we did that.  Adults went to dinner with their parents, whether they wanted to or not.  So we did that.  I think by going through the motions like that, we managed to grow up a lot and also set the stage for the life we live now.

The other thing about meeting young and dating for a long time and growing up together means that we dated for a lot longer than other people that get married.  If you think about it, most people who meet in high school or college date for at least six years before they get married.  So when I tell people that Mark and I were together for seven years before getting married, they are surprised.  Then I remind them that I was 25 when we got married, and getting married at 21 wasn't really in the cards for us.  But our friends meet now and date for a year or two, then get engaged and get married.  I think it's because when you are already grown-ups when you meet, and you don't have so much growing up left to do, and you also know whether you will be compatible with a person much faster (especially if you've already dated people.)  If anyone we knew in college had dated for a year and then announced they were getting married, we would have called them crazy.  But in the Real World of Being Grownups, my friends who date for a year get engaged and I say, "yay!" or if it's two years, I say, "finally!"

Did you meet young and date for a long time?  Did you grow up together?  Did one of you help the other one grow up?  Or have you met recently as full-fledged adults who already know who you are?


  1. Oooh interesting post, Ellie!

    Turtle is 11 years older than I am, and the place I see it manifesting the most is how we live. We don't really have things that "will work for now," we either wait until we can acquire the nice thing we want or we live without it. Very non-college-y. Recently I've been realizing that a lot of our differences are based on my having recently been in college, and her having not recently been in college...

    That was not the most eloquent statement I have made, but that's what I have to contribute (<-- reason I have not been blogging recently). Have a great Monday!

  2. Full fledged adults! You don't have time to waste when you're old like us :) We got engaged about 13 months after we started dating, and married 9 months after that.

    I think it makes a HUGE difference how old you are. That's why when I see young kids (yes, if you're younger than 23 you're still KIDS) getting married, I get a little sad. Why be in such a rush? Enjoy life a bit -- which can be together even if you're not married.

    I'm glad you both took your time!

  3. I was 17 when we met, but I had already completed a year of college so while I still had a ton of growing up to do, I felt like a grown-up. I was 21 at our wedding. We have grown up more since our wedding than we have in the period between meeting and getting married, in my opinion. I don't know if that's because of the wedding or because of being that age. My mom turned 51 this year and she's still growing up lol.

  4. We were 23 when we met, so maybe not quite full-fledged adults (are we now? sometimes I wonder), but pretty well-acquainted with who we are as people. We've often said that if we met even a year before that, we NEVER would've hit it off, we were just too different.

    We married after 5 years together - I'm sure lots of people thought "finally!" (people had been asking since we passed the 1 yr mark), but we wanted to wait until it was the right time for us. If you'd told me when I was 18 that I'd be married before I was 30, I would've laughed at you; my thoughts then were on the spectrum of "never, no-way-no-how" to "maybe when I'm 65."

  5. Mr. Beagle and I met when we were 22 and 21 respectively. We've been dating for more than 5 years now.

    Of course we weren't grown up when we met, but I was far more mature and experienced at 21 than 18. It's funny how much we change during those three years.

    Hearing about each other's younger selves, I'm not sure we would have been interested in each other at 18 and 19.

  6. I met Econo Man when he was 27 and I was 24. We dated for almost 2.5 years before we got engaged. I think we took things slower because we are cautious people by nature -- we definitely got a lot of "finally!" comments when we made it official :-)

  7. Ditto. I was 18 when we started dating, and he's 5 years older than me. We'll have been together more than 5 years when we get married, and I absolutely grew up a lot faster by dating someone who was out of college when I was just starting. As a result, I don't really hang out with people my age anymore, except college friends. And as much as it sucked, meeting so early makes me glad we were physically apart for 2 years so that I could have a somewhat normal college experience. It cuts down on the regrets.

  8. I was 26 when I met the boy. He was 24. We got married 7 years later. I thought I was pretty grown up when I met him: out of college, good job, owned my condo (all the stuff that looks good on paper) but there was still a lot I had to figure out about myself before I was ready to get married. To add to things I was barely a year out of a really bad relationship. The boy was young and flighty and also recently broken up. We definitely grew up together. I think the thing is, you never actually stop growing up. I feel like such a grown up now, but then I look at my friends with kids and think maybe I'm not THAT grown up.

  9. I wonder if these things run in families. Ellie's grandparents on both sides knew one another in high school. I Met the MOB when she was just 18. Ellie's sister and Brother in law knew one another in high school. By these standards Ellie left it a bit late.....