How I Respond When People Say, "Oh, You Got Married YOUNG!"
I got married at age 22. Here’s why I’m no longer self-conscious when faced with questions about marrying young.
I got married right after I graduated from college, at 22 years old. My husband is seven years older than me, and the timing was perfect for us. We’d already lived together for three years, and he was one year outside of graduate school — it seemed like as good of a landmark as any to tie the knot.
To be honest, I never thought a whole lot about my age. Then, four years ago when we moved to New York City, people found out I had already been married for years and I started getting this reaction:
“Oh, you got married YOUNG!”
This response is equally a question and remark. I quickly found that many, regardless of the amount of time that they’ve known me, often feel as though they are owed an explanation. In a lot of instances, the reveal has been followed up with questions surrounding our ages when we got married (22 and 29), if that’s "normal" for people living in the south (more normal than it is in the north, for sure), and one person even gasped and asked, “What did your parents say?” Don’t worry, folks, both sets of parents were on board.
Honestly, I let it get to me. I let it make me self-conscious. I actually found myself worried that people would disregard me and think of me as weird or small-minded for committing to someone when I was only 22. I let the reactions of strangers make me think of my marriage as an obstacle that I needed to explain. The result of my self-consciousness was that I found myself in what felt like a never-ending elevator-pitch-justification of my decision to get married when I was young.
That’s when I learned something that New Yorkers seem to know from an early age: you don’t owe people anything.
Oftentimes, I’m totally happy to talk to people about my marriage — my wedding was honestly one of the happiest days of my life — but if someone asks about it in a way that conveys cynicism instead of genuine interest, I’ve learned that I don’t owe them a backstory or an explanation. I can tell them “after college” or I can turn and walk away. The kicker? It really doesn’t matter.
As a kid raised on southern manners, this has been a hard pill to swallow.
People can’t make you feel self-conscious about something unless you let them. I know it’s easy to say, but lately I’ve started using people’s questions as an opportunity to reflect on how grateful I am for my life. I’m thankful I don’t have to date in a huge city, or on apps. My husband and I have now lived in four different cities together, we’ve made and lost friends, we’ve become dog parents and we’ve worked hard at building a life together. In a lot of ways, we grew up together. Getting to tell people that? I feel really lucky, y’all.