I have read several resolution type posts over the last few weeks. There is one in particular that stood out to me. If you have not yet read the blog post "23 Things to do Instead of Getting Engaged Before You're 23", go to the blog Wander Onwards and check it out!
The blogger, Vanessa, is a self-proclaimed professional "wanderer" who moved from the United States to travel and experience the rest of the world. You can read more about her here.
It is no secret that I fall under her category of "Under 23". I got engaged and married when I was 20 years old. While I had known my husband for 5 years, he and I dated for only 5 months before we were engaged. We were engaged for only 6 months before we got married.
While I pretty much go against everything she wrote the post about, I do agree with her overall theme of not rushing into an engagement/marriage just because it is the NEXT thing to do.
Vanessa writes, "at the age of 22, I have no idea who I am, what I am doing, or who I'll be doing it with for the next year... let alone the rest of my life." I totally understand that statement. You may be considered an adult at 18, but you grow and change SO MUCH between the ages of 18 and 25!
My husband is a great example of what she is talking about.
He was in a band well into his twenties. He went to Uganda when he was 20 years old. He then traveled through Germany, England, France, The Czech Republic, Austria, and Italy. He moved from Phoenix to Los Angeles when he was 22. He moved back to Arizona when he was 24. He made new friends, saw new places and learned a lot about life.
But guess what!
AFTER he was recently engaged (to me) he went to Rwanda, Africa at the age of 25. He went there without his fiancé.
He grew and changed even though he was engaged to me. He learned a lot about God, about Rwandan people, about himself. It was another amazing and life altering experience.
I lived a much different life.
I got a job the day I turned 16, before that, I baby-sat as much as I could. While I wasn't the most amazing student, I did not slack off in school and I worked as much as I could outside of school. I was in a long-term relationship through most of high-school and well into college. I went to Community College, because a University was too intimidating for me. I worked full-time while taking a full class load. I had the same job for 5 years. I saved my money and balanced my check book once a week (I should really start doing this again)! I lived at home until my wedding day. My best friends were all friends with each other. I truly didn't feel comfortable driving outside of the 10 mile radius of my home. My goal was to get married.
And I did. Marriage, however wonderful it may sound, is definitely NOT always rainbows and butterflies. For us, our first year of marriage was kind of difficult. I believe that my lifestyle before marriage played a role in that difficulty.
Marriage was a complete shake up of everything I had known.
I had a roommate (my husband) for the first time! I had bills to pay, someone else's laundry to wash, meals to cook (ok, so I still don't really cook). I had to work more to save money because life got more expensive, I had to clean up after not only myself, but someone else, had to share my space, my time, EVERYTHING, with another person.
I do not regret getting married when I did. However, I think our first year of marriage might have been easier if I had grown a little more as a single person. Because, I did not STOP growing and changing just because I was married. I am STILL growing, changing, making mistakes and finding new passions. I am 24 years old, being married doesn't change that.
Something the writer of the post does not mention, possibly because she might have a crooked view of what marriage really looks like, is that marriage is a platform for adventure!
I have traveled more in our 4 years of marriage than I did in my first 20 years of life. I quit my job shortly after we got hitched and have had several different and amazing jobs since then. I got a dog for the first time, and then a cat, another cat, another dog, OH, and had two tortoises too! My husband and I continue to plan adventures to places I have never been! He gave me the push I needed to do these things! Marriage (for me) made me mature, grow and learn!
I think it is healthy, normal (and even Biblical) to wait for marriage. Visit my friend (Sadie's) website as an example of just that. Sadie is gorgeous, kind, talented...
And could EASILY be married with a kid or two by now, but she is not. She travels, serves others, has the ability to work crazy hours, fly out of the country on a whim without a set idea of when she'll be back, and is a content and thankful person. She has become a wonderful and extremely talented videographer and photographer, she has met amazing people and had opportunities that she might not have been able to take advantage of if she was married. She is a perfect example of being a young "wanderer" and exploring the world around her. I have no doubt that Sadie's future husband will enjoy the fact that she did all these different things!
Here is my list of things you might consider doing before you get engaged/married! You CAN TOTALLY do most of these things when you are married (I know I did), but they just might be easier to accomplish when you are still single.
- Learn Something New.
Take a cooking, web design, photography, painting, music, dance or nutrition class.
This is super fun to do with your spouse, but it is easier to do when you don't have a mortgage to pay, pets and children to find care for, or a spouse to consider availability of.
Do this on a regular basis. Make a commitment to serve others and think about yourself less often.
- Move in with a Friend.
Like I mentioned before, having a roommate prior to marriage is likely to better prepare you for your permanent/life-long roommate.
- Grow in your Faith
As a christian, I cannot leave this out. God has the greatest ability to be your everything when your heart is not divided for your spouse. Cherish your time as a single person available to go wherever the Lord may take you.
- Be CONTENT in your singleness!
One thing that seems pretty clear to me is that the writer of the post is struggling to be content with where she is in life at this time. She contradicts herself (she writes... "Be selfish", and then... "Join the Peace Corps"). She also lists things that don't make sense to me in the context of her post. Like... "Accomplish a Pinterest project", "Adopt a pet", "Make a cake. Make a second cake. Have your cake and eat it too", "Cut your hair", "Watch GIRLS, over and over again." Because...
I am pretty sure Pinterest's target audience are newlywed's and young families.
The first thing we did when we got married was get a dog
I made cake before I was married and I make cake now... cake is a good idea ALL. THE. TIME.
Cut your hair? CUT YOUR HAIR???? Really?
Watch GIRLS? By all means, go right ahead! Your husband can watch it with you or you can watch it alone. You will still have alone time to do things like read, watch TV, make cake, workout, drink wine with your girlfriends or get lost in the world known as Pinterest, even after you are married.
Marriage is not the end of your life, my friends. It's just another beautiful step along the way.