Why I’m Glad I Married at 22 (25 Years Later)
Marriage Log: Day 9,132
We were both 22.
People rarely get married at 22 anymore.
Indeed, the average age at first marriage is now almost 28 for females and 30 for males.
Is this good or bad?
Depends on who you talk to, but as for me, marrying at 22 accomplished two very important things.
First, it called me up to maturity in a real hurry.
I think about the lyrics of 22, by Taylor Swift, a relatively innocent, fun-loving ditty about “feeling 22.” And yet a song which celebrates the shallow, self-absorbed, and immature attitudes and behaviors which marriage immediately went about working out of me. Starting at age 22.
To be honest, after graduation I needed something like marriage to motivate me to get outside myself, grow up, and move onto bigger and more significant things.
25 years later, I can still be shallow, self-absorbed, and immature, but you should have seen me when I was 22. I highly doubt moving back in with my parents (or into a hip apartment with my hip “friends-style” friends) would have had the kind of impact that learning to thrive in marriage did.
But it hasn’t been all work. The second thing marrying at 22 has done for me is bless me far beyond my imagining. Not, “DisneyWorld-like” blessings. (Although we did go to Disney World for our honeymoon.) More like the kind of blessings which come with endeavoring to accomplish something both meaningful and monumental.
You know, like building a life-giving, life-long marriage.
And so, after 25 years of marriage, I wrote a very different song than Taylor Swift’s. In fact, the only similarity it likely shares with her hit single is the title.
Even still, here’s hoping these lyrics challenge you (and those you know and love) to catch a different vision for one’s twenties, whether it includes marriage or not.
It started with a marriage book I got from my mother.
I couldn’t tell you why I read it cover to cover.
At the time I hadn’t even found my first girlfriend,
But my single life was about to end.
10 years later, after 8 years of marriage,
With a boy and 2 girls in our mini baby carriage,
We’d lost my mother, then my job, and then we moved to Tennessee,
But those trials drew us closer than we dreamed we’d be.
For we could not have known we’d see our promise through.
We were only 22!
Another ten years and another couple boys,
With another set of trials and another kind of joy
That we never would have known if we hadn’t kept our vows.
And we never could have guessed of where we’d be right now.
For God only knew, all He’d walk with us through.
We were only 22!
The covenant of marriage calls us to lay down our lives,
A woman for her man and a husband for his wife.
For the living’s found in dying, as it is in all great things,
But the struggle’s worth the striving, so i gave my girl a ring. And it changed everything!
In ten more years we’ll be married thirty-five,
And we’ll make it there together if we make it there alive.
And we’re bringing others with us, if you want to join the fun,
Changing generations, and we’ve just begun!
And we will not stop, until God says we’re through.
Even when we’re 52!
Even when we’re 62!
And at 72!
Maybe even 82!
We were only 22!
Admittedly, marrying at 22 isn’t for everyone. For some it’s not even a possibility, despite their desire for it to be.
Then again, marriage isn’t for everyone, but it is for most.
That said, the overarching reality that makes marrying at 22 a better idea than marrying at 32 (which, again, is far closer to the average age) is this: marriage works far better as a formative institution you expect to mold your character and direct your life than it does as a bonus institution you expect to serve your personal ambitions, and complete your chosen lifestyle.
The key word in that previous sentence was: expect.
What are your expectations for marriage? Are they self-sacrificing, or more self-seeking? As is always true of knowing contentment in any life endeavor, expectations are everything! This means…
You’ve got to be open to letting marriage mold your character and direct your life, or marriage will not work for you at any age.
Maybe you want that for your life, but still find yourself unmarried just the same. Please know my heart is burden for those who’s desire for marriage seems deferred indefinitely.
It must be lonely, living through your 20s (or 30s or 40s…), longing for both the challenge and blessing of marriage while most singles your age seem to believe living like they’re perpetually 22 is far preferable to the “adulting” required in marriage.
And, maybe it is. Maybe Taylor and her posse are having more fun and accomplishing far more in their twenties than my wife and I will by our seventies (when we’ll hopefully be married 50 years).
The catch is this: the “Taylor Swift” life of fame, fortune, and everlasting sex appeal isn’t a realistic option for most. While growing up as you grow old together with someone happens to be a possibility within the reach of almost everyone.
But not by magic.
Because marriage is an awesome calling, requiring both careful preparation and wise discernment.
Those desiring the “feeling 22” life, need not apply. Scratch that! Shouldn’t apply!
But whatever age you’re at, if you’re wanting the kind of marriage I describe in my version of 22, we want to help you get there. Indeed, it’s the very reason we established Future Marriage University (FMU).
Do not lose hope! Your God knows it is not good for you to be alone!
Start your journey of preparation for relational success, by going to our Hot Topic page dedicated to pursing and growing in healthy relationships. Beyond that, consider getting a group of like-minded friends together and walk through a Beyond Sex & Salvation discipleship study (see details below).
Finally, if you’d like to join Julie and me in “changing generations” (as the song above says), consider any of the following:
- Sign up to get our monthly e-newsletter (email us at the address on our contact page)
- Make a tax-deductible year-end contribution and/or a monthly commitment to FMU (see donation link below)
- Sponsor an FMU LoveEd event for your church or school (Have content. Will travel.)
Together, let’s empower more wise individuals to prepare for their future marriage like a successful career: intentionally, intelligently, and IN ADVANCE! Whether they marry at 22 or 62.
DNA: It’s What’s For Dating
It’s NOT for couples, but for any wise individual who thinks they might want to get married sometime before they die. And would like to learn how to better build healthy relationships in the meantime.
Check out all three study guides in our store. You can walk through them on your own, but it’s more fun with friends (that and it kinda makes sense to grow in relational success in actual relationships with others), so consider putting together an FMU LoveEd small group study.
Even better? And ask a rock star married couple you respect to lead it!