Dear Sue:

I’ve been in a relationship for 3 years, and I’ve noticed that all of my friends who have been in relationships that long are getting engaged or married. I’m only 21 and have no desire to get married yet. In fact, the idea of getting married at such a young age is kind of terrifying, but everyone else seems perfectly fine with it. Is it normal that I don’t want to get married this young?

Sincerely,

Commitment-phobic

 

Dear Commitment-phobic,

It is absolutely normal to not want to get married so young. Marriage is a big commitment, and entering into such a commitment at a young age can be difficult. Most people feel as though marriage is something to do when two people love each other, but honestly it isn’t that simple. Marriage isn’t just two people loving each other it’s a change for the rest of your life. Once a couple gets married, their entire relationship changes. You can no longer be on your parent’s insurance, all medical decisions fall to the spouse if one of you is to become incapacitated, taxes become as if you were one person, everything about your life as you know it will change. And these changes aren’t necessarily a bad thing, but they are something that a person needs to consider if they decide to marry.

Beyond the changes in lifestyle, which many college students may not be able to handle, there can be inherent difficulties involved in marrying young. A great deal of your personality comes from your career choices and the people with whom you interact at work. While still in college this part of your personality has not yet been established and therefore might cause problems when your spouse’s personality also changes.

There of course is also the fact that the romance and “in love” feeling doesn’t last throughout a marriage, which young couples may not be prepared for. Most people think that the giddy feeling that comes with falling in love lasts a lifetime. In reality, this feeling changes and evolves as you get older and spend more time with your significant other. Love doesn’t go away; it becomes more of a feeling of mutual commitment and everlasting friendship.

It is this friendship that marriage really is. The willingness to no longer be a giddy teenager in love, the willingness to give up your entire life as you know it and to accept the changes that marriage comes with means you are ready for marriage. That willingness to change in and of itself is an extraordinary commitment that not everyone is ready for at the age of 21. So, Commitment-phobic, if you’re not ready to make that change, there is nothing wrong with that. It might be that the relationship you’re in isn’t right for you, or it may be that you realize getting married at a young age may be more of a detriment than a benefit, or it could be none of these reasons. Whatever your reasons, its entirely normal.

 

-Sue Z. Maroon

 

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