Monday, August 18, 2014

On Getting Married in College

Since we celebrated one-year of marriage a week ago, I've been thinking lots about how awesome married life is. Specifically, how awesome being a married college student is. For those of you who don't know, Jacob and I were both 19 when he proposed, and we got married 11 months later, when we were 20. To some people, this may seem outrageously young, to others this may seem more normal (incidentally, when we were preparing for marriage, we knew three other couples our age who were all getting married the same summer as us!).

When we first got engaged, many people were very supportive, some people not so much (because they cared for us and didn't want us to get hurt), and lots of people had questions. So even though I should have done this a long time ago, I want to address a few "frequently asked questions" that people have had (and still ask me) about being a married college student.

Girl, don't you know that this is your time to be wild and crazy? You're a college student! Enjoy that singleness!
I thoroughly enjoyed life as a single girl, going to Europe (twice), hanging out with lots of friends going to dances and parties, leading retreats, and seeking to fulfill God's purpose for my life in my singleness. Even though it was all a lot of fun and I lived a fulfilling life, I would not choose to continue that for the world--because I have a much more fulfilling, more incredible, more sanctifying life now that I'm married! Having adventures with my husband is far greater a joy than having adventures by myself. And getting married is itself a crazy adventure!

Aren't you a little young to be married? 
Actually, according to the Code of Canon Law, a man has to be 16, and a girl has to be 14 (obviously, people have to act within the laws of where they live). At 20 years old, we were both mature and old enough to make the conscious decision to lay our lives down for each other in the Sacrament of Marriage. I know this may appear shocking (and a few years ago, I thought being married in college was a bit crazy of a thought), but it's really not that weird. After all, how many of us applaud a woman who enters the convent when she's 18 or 19? Or St. Therese, the Doctor of the Church, who entered the convent when she was 15?

But life will be so hard for you; instead of living in the dorms and having a meal plan, you'll have to find a place to live, buy groceries, etc. 
The easy option isn't always the best option. While it would have been "easier" to just check the boxes on the forms, pay the money, and continue to live like thousands of other single college girls, this was not the best option at all. My then-fiance and I were/still are deeply in love, had discerned that God wanted us to be married in college, and had reasoned through it-waiting till after graduation may have been "easier" in the eyes of the world, but it wouldn't have been "better." Also, living off campus and buying groceries isn't that difficult, and we've had a very peaceful time of it all.

You're a poor college student-don't you know kids are expensive? 
First off, while there is expense with raising children, there are many inexpensive ways to go about it. I know loads of huge families (we're talking at least 5 kids, going up to 13 kids) and most of them aren't that rich-but they cut costs and live within their means. Many times, when people talk about babies being "expensive" they are thinking of formula, diapers, all the latest gadgets and gizmos for babies, and cute little snacks as the babies grow. Well, ecological breastfeeding is way better for mother and baby, no kid needs all of the latest gadgets, and those little snacks are purely a marketing technique to get more money out of new parents, in my opinion. But we don't have kids yet, so those things are down the road somewhere. Also, this question assumes that everyone who gets married immediately will start having babies, and that's not a healthy assumption to make. Yes, marriage is ordered to "bonding and babies" in the words of a friend of mine, but the babies come within God's timing and plan, not in our neighbor's plan. (A friend of mine wrote a wonderful blog post about this aspect of newlywed life.)

Now that I've touched on some of the major concerns people have had, I want to mention some of the reasons why being a married college student is incredibly awesome!!

You realize all of the blessings and gifts God gives you in a whole new way. 
When we moved into our little dumpy apartment, we realized how rich we are, how God has blessed us. Instead of living in small dorm rooms, we have an entire apartment! With our own kitchen! And living room! And bathroom! And we only have to share the washer and dryer with four other apartments, instead of an entire dorm of students!

You get to grow up together. 
We're young, and we have so many adventures to come in life! And we get to share those adventures together! We will (God willing) get to finish our years at college together, raise children together, get a house together, grow old many experiences, challenges, triumphs, and joys that we will share!

You don't focus on spending money. 
Everyone knows that a huge point of conflict in many marriages is money. Well, we already were poor college students, living frugally but still having fun, so when we got married, we easily continued to live frugally-but still are having lots of fun! There are loads of creative, inexpensive ways to have adventures-our focus is on our relationship and doing fun stuff together, not on having an expensive date.

You get to learn to love each other with the stress of schoolwork. 
While many of the difficulties in marriage are the same-in college or graduated-I think one of the great benefits of married college life is homework. It's taught us how we can best love, serve, and sacrifice for each other when papers, presentations, and theses are piling high. We've learned how to work together in helping each other study and stay accountable with projects and papers.

Furthermore, having a peaceful home to go to is a great joy in the midst of schoolwork. 
Marriage is so abundantly peaceful. Living out the vocation is a huge blessing and it's awesome. Getting to spend time at home together in the midst of classes is great-it's an oasis of peace in crazy semesters.

Having tons of friends around it super awesome. 
It's college, so we have tons of friends around, which is great! We're still able to spend time with different friends and my household sisters, which is a blessing! It's also cool because sometimes they'll ask us about married life, relationship tips, and NFP, and we're able to give them our thoughts!

You're flexible. 
We're not old and set in our ways; we're really young, and can adapt and compromise and learn to work together really simply! Sleep schedules and meal menus are totally flexible according to what the other needs; we adapt and change it up, and it's no big deal!

You may have even had the chance to study in Europe first...
Spending a semester right before marriage in Europe was amazing for so many reasons, and you may not have guessed it, but-it was great marriage prep. I forgot my debit card in the U.S., so we spent the semester living off of one debit card, which forced us to communicate about all things money and budget (a huge beneficial preparation for marriage). We spent hours on trains, shower-less and gross and sleep-deprived and loved each other through it all, which is also great marriage prep, since when we have kids someday, a portion of our life will be sleep-deprived and shower-less and gross : )

You don't have the pressure "to get engaged/plan a wedding while doing a thesis or planning your life." 
A lot of people, I've noticed, get engaged during their senior year in college. It makes sense-you've been dating a few years, you want to get married, and you know that life after college will include both of you. Some people feel the pressure of "I have go get engaged/get married, I'm graduating and need to figure out my life!" or, they are pressured that "Everyone else is getting engaged, I want/need to as well!"  One of our friends told my husband and I that, "you guys have it good, you've already done the Big Stuff." We can just relax, go to classes, do thesis work, and figure out jobs and such for after graduation, and not worry about planning a wedding.

You can grow younger all the time. 
We're crazy, young, college students, and getting married has made us even younger. I don't know what exactly happened, but we're crazier, sillier, more youthful, and more joyful!!

You haven't gotten disillusioned by a long life of broken hearts and shattered dreams. 
I've encountered this philosophy that before "settling down," you need to get your heart broken several times, experience failure, and "find out who you really are." Um...that doesn't sound like a good idea. If these things haven't happened to you, you don't need to try and make them happen! Jacob and I both had strong friendships with people of both sexes, but our friendship together was something special and deep on a whole new level. I had never dated anyone before Jacob, I had never tried to "find myself" in some broken lifestyle, and I am so glad! We both brought this sparkling innocence into our relationship, and we didn't need to "find ourselves" through some weird sort of young-life crisis. We knew our identity in Christ, and as a married couple, we get to face challenges in life together! 

You get to live the Sacrament of Marriage!
It's a huge blessing, a tremendous blessing, and amazing blessing. And we get to live it! It's super cool to witness to marriage, and I can't count how many people have told us how touched they are by us and other young, strong married couples. Going to daily Mass, praying a daily Rosary, and going to Confession frequently together have been incredible ways to grow stronger in our Faith and as a couple, and have helped us as we live out this vocation!

I hope this post has helped some of you look at married college student life in a new light! Not everyone can or should get married in college, but I think many more people should at least see the beauty in it and consider if God desires them to do it, because it's epic!

Have a great day!

1 comment:

  1. Hi, I just stumbled upon your blog from another post you wrote for chastityproject and began exploring. I wanted to say thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences on being married and in college. I, too, just began my senior year and it was really refreshing to hear other stories from 'traditional' students who were called to get married young and still finish school. Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts not just on marriage and college, but on the Catholic faith!