Husband & Wife Articles


 

Young and Wedded

The unexpected blessings of getting married young

By Chris Mooney

Of all my friends in high school and college, I am one of a very few who has gotten married. Since Julia and I got married exactly one week after graduation, our marriage is a significant anomaly. While I’ve had few instances of people directly challenging our decision to marry young, we have gotten our share of questioning looks from old friends, parents, and professors.

Despite the negative feedback, being married has been wonderful, young or not! Yet while I happily defend young marriage, I would hesitate to call myself a proponent or advocate. Getting married young is not a good in itself; marriage is a good in itself. I didn’t get married because I wanted to be married young, but because I thought my wife was the right woman to marry and I couldn't imagine life without her.

My wife and I have only been married for two years, and we still have a lot to learn. Nonetheless, we've received some unique blessings from our early marriage. On their own, these benefits are not reasons to get married. But they are benefits that show that a young couple with a relationship built on a solid foundation of maturity, faith, readiness, compatibility, and love can experience unique goods. I would like to outline three benefits that I have experienced:

You have the help of a spouse during formative years of your life. Upon hearing of our engagement, a fellow student said that since we change and grow so much in our 20s we don’t know what person we’ll be in the future. But in a sense, this is exactly why getting married early helps! I’m glad that I got married before I became set in bad habits or too used to living alone. Much more importantly, the knowledge that I will change and grow so much during this decade impressed upon me all the more the importance of having a godly wife at my side to guide me. Knowing my own weaknesses, I want all the help I can get to shape myself in holiness through good formation and habits. Choosing such a person is a weighty decision, but it’s one that can be made if, with the confidence of faith, you know through Scripture, the teaching of the Church, and wise teachers what God's vision is for a good life and marriage. There’s only one kind of person I know I’ll want to be at 30, and that is a saint. I know my wife will help me toward that goal, and I pray I do the same for her.

You can cultivate self-control. It’s no surprise that young men and women, Christians no less, struggle with loneliness and temptations. But Scripture clearly says, for those whose vocation is marriage, “because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband” (1 Cor. 7:2). That’s why St. Paul says, “It is better to marry than to burn with passion” (1 Cor. 7:9). While there are circumstances where sexual sin is a sign of immaturity and unreadiness for marriage, I know that marriage can be a wonderful end to the misery of much youthful temptation and a way in which the Lord mercifully extends us help in practicing self-control and receiving the joy of true intimacy.

You can be like the saints! If it is true, as I have experienced, that the rejection of early marriage in our society is a product of a reduced vision of marriage based on selfish desires, immaturity, and fear of commitment, then starting a good marriage at a young age can be a powerful evangelical witness to friends and acquaintances of what God teaches marriage should be. Nothing about getting married young will keep you from the most important thing: knowing God in Christ for all eternity. Scripture has many examples of young marriages which God blessed, Mary's being the chief example! Getting married young may be a bad idea for certain people or circumstances and should be considered carefully, but it's certainly not inherently foolish. Nothing about being married at 24 will necessarily keep me from happiness in this life or eternal rest with God.

A good marriage should be undertaken on a solid foundation of love, faith, compatibility, maturity, and affection. But where that foundation exists for a young couple, marriage can be a wonderful means of sanctification, joy, peace, and witness.

Chris Mooney received a Classics degree from Georgetown in 2013 and is currently a student at Yale Divinity School, studying Patristic and Medieval theology. He lives in New Haven with his wife, Julia, and their son, Christopher.