Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Median Marriage Age

When you fall in love with your future husband at the ripe old age of 17 like I did, chances are you're going to end up getting married pretty young. I mean, who wants to wait years and years to be the wife of the man of your dreams once you've found him? I'm really glad I married Jeff relatively early in life for a million different reasons, but we were definitely on the young side of the curve. 
(Our wedding day - July 31, 2010)

Now that Jeff is 27 and I'm 25, we're officially the average age of couples getting married in Texas. Nationally, the average age at marriage is 28 for men and 26 for women, but here in Texas it's slightly lower at 27 for men and 25 for women. (Here's a fun graph of marriage statistics by state, if you're fascinated by that kind of thing like me!)
When we got married, I didn't think I was really young (although, in hindsight, I guess I was!). Our families and friends were always really supportive of us getting married, and no one ever told us that we were too young to get married or anything like that, so we just didn't really think of ourselves as "young." I knew objectively that I was one of the first of my friends to get married, but I wasn't THE first, and I think we were looking at it more in terms of life goals being met rather than how old we were. 
When we got married at just barely 21 (me) and 23 (Jeff), we both had our bachelor's degrees, and we had been together for four years. We had decent-sized bank accounts and even some small investment accounts thanks to working during college, and we were debt-free thanks to some wonderful blessings - sizable scholarships, great college jobs, and some financial support from our parents during college. We just didn't really feel "young," even though we technically were. 
But, regardless of all that stuff, marrying young makes our lives different from couples who marry closer to the average time. It's fascinating to me to think about how our first few years of marriage would've been different if we had been getting married now (at the average age of 25 and 27), rather than four years ago. 
Because we got married so young, we've had to sacrifice things for each other. There were a lot of great law schools I wanted to go to that weren't in Houston, but I decided to go to UH instead so we could be together. Jeff sacrificed things too. He was married to me throughout those law school years, and he dealt with all the stress and insane amounts of study time. He even missed attending his brother's college graduation because I had final exams at the same time and he wanted to be home to support me. If we were just now getting married, he'd have missed all that unpleasant stuff. I've seen Jeff give things up for the sake of my happiness (and he's seen me do the same for him), and because of that we have the sort of mutual trust in each other that can only be created over time. Marriage involves sacrifice at any age though, so I'm sure this is one of those things that happens regardless of when you get married.
(Law school graduation - 2013)
Because we were relatively young when we got married, our first few years of marriage were also the years when we were getting established on a practical level as adults. We figured out how to file taxes together. When we bought cars for the first time, we did it together. We bought our first house together, we started planning financially for retirement together, we figured out our priorities for budgeting/saving/spending together, and the list goes on and on. If we were just now getting married, those are all things we'd have done on our own already, and we wouldn't have those shared experiences. Once you have a spouse, you have more motivation to save for things like future kids' college educations and house down payments. We started thinking about those things at a really young age, which has been a big blessing to us. When we merged our bank accounts when we got married, our bank accounts were really small. We've come a long way since then, and I love that we built all of that together. 
(Moving into our first house - 2011)
I'm glad I went into law school and my legal career with a husband by my side. It forced me to wrestle with the work/life balance issue from Day 1, and I've learned how to prioritize my life and say "no" sometimes even when it's hard. I think I'd be a total workaholic if I wasn't married. It's something that would be really hard to adjust at this point if I was just now starting to balance family with lawyer-stuff, so I'm glad we were married from the beginning. 
There are definite downsides to marrying young though. If we were just now getting married, we'd have plenty of "couple friends." When we got married four years ago, most of our friends were still single. We would get really excited when we met a young married couple we liked, or when one of our single friends was getting married. We felt a bit like an anomaly during those first couple years (me particularly, since I'm a couple years younger than Jeff) because we didn't have many friends who were in the same sort of life situation as us. I do think it would've been nice to have a larger network of married friends during that time. It's something we do have now, and I really like it. 
Sometimes people say you shouldn't marry young because you should "see the world!" or "live your life!" before you "settle down." I'm going to go ahead and say that I think that's completely ridiculous. :) We've had so many adventures in the last few years, and I'm so glad we did them all together! Memories of exploring Singapore or seeing gigantic glaciers in Alaska with my husband are way better than memories of doing those things on my own. Getting married doesn't mean you can never get on a plane again. It just means you have a wonderful partner to share your adventures with!
(Alaska - 2013)
People also say that you shouldn't marry young because you're still going to change a lot. Jeff and I have definitely seen each other change since we first started dating, but I love that we've been through those changes with each other. We're not the same Jeff and Katie that we were in high school, or in college, but that's totally okay (actually, I'm really glad Jeff's not still the same person he was in high school or college! haha). I was really comfortable getting married even though we were young because we'd already grown and changed a lot throughout our relationship, and I knew we could do it together. Plus, do people ever really stop growing and changing? My parents and Jeff's parents are still growing and changing and adapting to life together. If we were just now getting married, I think we'd still have to adapt to that. That's the beautiful thing about marriage... you grow with your spouse, and you experience an infinite amount of things together, and you know that you'll always be committed to each other no matter what changes. It's amazing. 
Anyway, I don't think there's a right time or wrong time for getting married in general, but it is funny to think about how our life would be different if we were just now getting married. I sure am glad we tied the knot when we were 21 and 23!
If you'd like to read more thoughts and musings on marrying young, here's a wonderful series of blog posts by a lot of different women on the topic!  


  1. So much yes, to all of this! Beautifully written, Katie.

  2. I think it's great that you guys did all of these things together! I was 28, and my husband was 27 when we got married. And we had already graduated, started careers, etc. on our own. I had even bought a house by myself. Learning to merge things together once we both had ways of doing them was (and still is) one of the difficult things in our marriage. The fact that you guys learned all that as a couple is a blessing! And I think there are upsides to both marrying young and staying single longer. But the fact is, you meet the right person when you meet him. And when you know he's the one, there's nothing out there more important than being with him.