John and I married as practically geezers. And by geezers, I mean we were on the back end of 27 by the time we tied the knot. For the rest of the country, we actually were just a bit under the average for marrying couples (that’s 28), but for military couples, we were way over the average by more than 2 years. (Where’s my walker?)
Often, if we compare our lives to other newer-weds (I don’t think that after almost 2 years we can call ourselves newlyweds anymore) in the military, there’s around a decade of difference in our ages… and it’s hard to relate to people you could have babysat as a teen. If we compare our lives to others our age, we find that many of them have already celebrated at least five years of marrriage and usually have multiple kiddos. There’s nothing wrong with that– but it does often make me wonder what if. What if we had married earlier? What if we would be more like the average military newlywed? How would our lives have been different?
Then I need to smack myself and remind myself that everyone’s journey is different– that our story is uniquely ours and that, by marrying at an “older” age, we have learned and earned a whole other set of experiences that have helped us begin to create a secure future:
A strong sense of self
By the time John and I married, we both had developed a strong sense of who we were as adults. While we’ll still grow and change (and will until we’re planted in the ground), we had experienced some very important parts of our lives that have molded the people we’ve become and have impacted our relationship in very real ways. Had we gotten married younger– even out of college– I don’t think I would have felt as confident in who I was or what I wanted from life.
The professional edge
The years between college and our marriage were important professionally for both of us. I earned my master’s degree and teaching certification and taught in inner city Baltimore for five years. John checked off a bucket list item by joining the Navy and another by working and graduating with his master’s too. I can confidently say that had we married younger, neither one of us would have attained those professional goals, simply because it wouldn’t have been possible for us to follow them in one location together. It would have been easier not to take risks.
John and I never lived together before we got married. We quite literally moved in with each other after our honeymoon. The years between college and our marriage were a time for both of us to practice our independence as adults– to get roommates, to live alone, to open our own credit cards, wrangle with the cable bill, and captain our own schedules without having to coordinate with someone else. And that’s helped us create a strong work ethic within our family– we’re both able to get things done, which is especially important given John’s schedule and responsibilities.
We were both able to do a little saving during the years leading up until our marriage. While things were still a little tight (I had to quit my job to move to where John was stationed), I can’t imagine how we would have survived without our savings and being a bit more financially savvy and confident than we were in our early 20s.
By the time we married, we both knew exactly what we wanted from a relationship and from a marriage– something that I, personally, had no clue about when I was in my early twenties and late teens. We both knew how we wanted our lives to look like and what we sincerely wanted in a partner. (Had you asked me when I was 18, I would have said Ryan Gosling. 21? Probably Adam Levine.)
But the biggest perk of marrying “older”? I got to marry John. Had I gotten married any younger, I would have not married the same guy– and that would have been the biggest, life-ruining mistake of all.
Thanks to my friend JD at Semi-Delicate Balance for the inspiration for today’s post. She wrote a post entitled “5 Perks to Marrying Young in the Military.”