June 12, 2014

Why I married a teenager when I was a teenager

When I came to college, and even before then, people would stare at me in awe when they found out I was 18 and married.  It got quite humorous, actually, to see the looks on peoples' faces when I told them I got married three months after graduating high school.  Most of them assumed my husband was older - with a steady career, a degree, and his feet under him.  SURPRISE!  Race was only 19 when we tied the knot. We graduated high school on the same day.  We were heading to our first year of college together to start our grown up lives. We basically had no idea how to do anything but love each other. We were kind of stuck in a bubble.

When I told the strangers (or not strangers, but mostly strangers) that piece of information, the look on their faces... Oh, boy, the look on their faces was priceless.  Oh, and did I mention that it hasn't stopped, yet?  No matter how long you've been married, people always find something peculiar about getting married as a teenager to a teenager. 

Most people just say "Why?" Well, sometimes I would reply "Why not?" because I've never been one to need to explain my actions to other people. I do things because I want to. But that didn't get the most pleasant replies either:

"You should be traveling the world!" Yes, I have longed to travel the world for as long as I can remember. I have a travel bug that has yet to be fixed. I still aim to travel the world. But why would I want to do it by myself? If I experienced the world with the love of my life, rather than myself or anyone else, what could be better? I do want to travel now, but I know that's not in the cards for us. We live in Cedar and Race has a full-time job: basketball. Sooner or later, we'll get on planes and have unforgettable adventures (even if it's hard to be patient now).

"You are so beautiful, you will be missing out on a lot of amazing college boys who will want to date you!" Yeah, you're probably right. There are a lot of great guys out there that I'm sure I might click with. But hello, even if I don't get married, I'm not going to be parting paths with my three-year boyfriend who I've been inseperable with for like ever! We experienced way too much in high school together to say "see ya later, I might find somebody else!" Bottom line: I know Race and I would have ended up together someday, regardless of when and where. We both wanted to start our lives together as soon as possible. Maybe someday I'll regret not dating, having fun with my friends, and living the typical college life. But that will only be a tinge of regret compared to the multitude of blessings and happiness I got from getting married for eternity as a teenager. 

"Why not go on a mission? Both of you!" All I can do is sigh and laugh at this one. The truth is, I begged Race to go on a mission for years. I really did. We had too many fights that weakened our relationship over the fact that while he loved The Lord and the gospel, he had never grown up wanting or needing to go on a mission. I couldn't stand that response. Nor could I stand this one, honestly: "I've grown up planning on going to college and playing basketball on a scholarship." Puke. I never understood anything more important than serving The Lord - especially basketball: a game. This probably sounds like a roast on Race, but I never quite grasped why he didn't want or feel the need to go. I don't know that I ever will. But he didn't go, and that is that. People tell me that it's my fault, and maybe it is, because Race just couldn't stay away from me ;) , but the truth is, it was Race's decision from the start. Nobody knew we were planning on getting married two seconds after we graduated high school - NOT EVEN US - but it happened. And boy, am I grateful.

On the other hand, I would have loved to serve a mission. But it wasn't in the cards for me - I think someday in the future it will be, but Race and I will go together. I also like to believe that we are already serving our own missions - trying to be good examples to those around us that may not be members. We have become really good friends with a couple down here who weren't interested in the church. I like to think someday, maybe because of us, maybe not, that they'll find the truth and happiness of the gospel. There are already glimpses of it. On our wedding day, my mom gave a toast at the dinner and said something along the lines of, "A lot of people ask these two why they aren't going on missions. And I say, 'They will, someday. But their mission now is to get married, go to college, and start their lives together.'" Thank you, Mom.

"You're just getting married so you can have sex." Wow, you hit the nail right on the head! Ha ha ha ha. Well, to be perfectly blunt, we wanted to get married in the temple, and we knew if we went to college by ourselves, we would have messed up and our chances of worthily getting married in the temple would be slim. We wanted to have sex, and that's the plain darn truth. But guess what, simple-minded people? That's not why we were getting married! If we wanted to have sex that bad, we would have. Get your heads out of the gutter. We loved each other. Hmmm, 21st century, that's sure hard to understand, isn't it?!

"You're both so young!" Yeah, I am 18, Race is 19. If I cared about age, I would never get married because I know a lot of 30 year olds who don't hold the maturity level that I do. Yes, I believe myself to be more mature than a lot of people my age. (Brag). I haven't really ever cared about age: if you set your mind to accomplish something, then you can. Simple as that. My friend Bailey and I used to buy the Dove chocolates just to read what the tinfoil wrappers said. I still have one hanging on my magnet board in my apartment that says, "Age is nothing but a number." I got that thing at like 14 years old. Who knew it would mean so much to me now! 

I have never really been one to care a whole lot about what people think of me. I don't see the reason for wasting time thinking about someone other than yourself and your loved ones. I know who I am and what I am capable of. I did, however, think a lot about what my Heavenly Father would think of me. I soon realized after much prayer, scripture and temple study, that we were making the right decision. After all, the main reason we were sent to this earth was the gain a body and an eternal family. I am well on my way to that. My bishop, seminary teachers, church leaders, and stake president all helped me see the bigger picture: marriage and family is the most important. No. Matter. When. Although I tried not to worry about what people thought of our teenage love, it was absolutely wonderful when someone actually approved and supported our decision. Nothing in the world felt better than people being happy for us. 

I never received a warm feeling in my heart that I should get married. I never opened up a random scripture that said I was making the right decision to get married so young. But I knew in my heart and soul that getting married was the best thing for me. It's as simple as that. I got told a long time ago that depicting between yourself and the Holy Spirit is just this: if it is good, and feels right, it's the Spirit. Marrying Race felt good and right. He loves me, he loves The Lord, he is attractive, he is hard working and absolutely wonderful. So here we are, 10 months later, married and happy! 

I didn't plan on getting married until I was well into my twenties. I've always seen myself as having a successful career, with lots of travel experience behind me, before I jumped into anything as crazy as tying myself to someone else. Not that I didn't want a family, I just thought it could wait. (And it still can.) I am a firm believer in everything happening for a reason. And this, this whole teen wife thing, it happened for a wonderful reason. I am an LDS woman who does not take marriage lightly. So when we made the decision, I had to be sure Race was the one I was going to spend forever and ever and ever and ever with. 

No, I don't suggest every 18 year old get married. I didn't know what I was in for, really. Deciding to get married is hard. Telling people who would disapprove is hard. Marriage is hard. Managing money is hard. Having no idea how to cook or clean or pay bills or buy things or do things on your own is hard. Juggling school and work and college sports is hard. Having your husband leave you for five days at a time for five months is hard. Hardly ever seeing your best friend or family is hard. I will not stand on my "I got married as a teenager" soapbox and say it's been so easy and fun all the time and that it's for everyone! Because it hasn't and it's not. But I have always been up to a great challenge, and it's been absolutely worth it! We've had the best support (after it sunk in to our families that we really wanted to get married). We really have been more blessed than ever because of the decision we made.

So when people ask me why I got married so young, with that look of terror on their faces, I don't say, "Why not?" I say, "Because I wanted to. Because I could. Because I love Race. That's it."

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