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Married Young and Stereotyped For It

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Why should I be lumped into a stereotype because of my age? I can’t count how many times I hear that I’m too young to be married or having a baby at 23. When people discover I’ve been married for three years a look of panic comes over their faces. Many people make it clear they disagree with my life choices. They think I should have finished college first, or that I still need to “find myself.” Well, guess what? I know myself!

If I were stereotyped because of my race or gender I could cry out against racism or sexism, but I have very little defense again ageism. Even if I had a defense, it wouldn’t do much good, as the people informing me that I’ve made the wrong life decisions are typically older, and therefore they assume they are wiser. But how could they possibly know that I might have experienced more in my short life than they have in their considerably (or slightly) longer one?

I try to understand why some people feel the need to disapprove of my life. I can only come up with one plausible answer to this: they messed up their own lives so much that they want to live vicariously through me. Of course, this doesn’t work that well when I only meet most of these people briefly, but that’s my best explanation.

More likely, they think they are saving me from something. But, then again, what do I need to be saved from: a devoted Christian husband? a life following after God’s will? Okay, I know that’s not what they’re worried about…well, some of them may be, but, for the most part they worry about heartbreak. They are afraid my husband will leave or that I will be miserable as a stay-at-home mom. But husbands of every age leave (have you heard of a mid-life crisis?), and some people enjoy being a homemaker.

I wish people knew all of the counseling my husband and I went through before we got married, or how we sought wisdom from family members and leaders in our church. I try to explain all of this to people as they criticize my marriage, but by then their minds are already made up and it’s no use.

Mostly, I wish people wouldn’t judge my lifestyle. I do my best not to judge others for doing things I disapprove of. I keep quiet unless something is directly affecting me. Why can’t people give me that same respect? Is it because my lifestyle is so, or used to be so, mainstream? Is it because I used to be a majority? Well, look around, I’m not anymore. The fact that I am so heavily criticized shows that my lifestyle is no longer the normal way of life.

But, who’s to say that my lifestyle wasn’t better? The divorce rate is sky-rocketing. This really became noticeable during the free love movement. You know, the time when people began waiting longer to get married, and fewer women wanted to be homemakers. What if some of those women had been content, or even happy, to stay at home with their children? What if people hadn’t waited until they had slept with, or “dated,” every one of their options before they got married?

Sure, maybe things would be the same. People may even get divorced because of the desire to know what else is out there, but waiting to get married and sampling every flavor of the week isn’t lowering the divorce rate or putting an end to affairs. If anything, I believe it makes the desire to have an affair stronger. If a man and woman only had sex with each other, would they know anything was possibly missing? If they allowed God to bless their sex life (oooh, scary thought, huh?) couldn’t there be fireworks (trust me, there can)?

I’m not perfect. I thought I was supposed to exhaust my options before deciding which one was best. To me the heartbreak isn’t worth it. Why should I have to experience the worst before I pick the best? What kind of damage has experiencing the worst done to my relationship with the best?

Look, I’m not saying this lifestyle is for everyone. I believe if everyone gave it a chance it would be, but I know many people would disagree. What I am saying is this lifestyle is for me. I am happy to be a wife and am blessed to be carrying my first child. All I ask is that if you don’t like it, wish me luck, and let me prove you wrong. Don’t try to tear my marriage down and then ask me to agree with you.

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About Diana Goodwin

  • Mindy

    I work with your mom who sent me this link. Thank you for saying things I have wanted to tell people so many times! I think you’re right about most people regretting their own choices. They want to feel like they did the best they could and chalk up their unhappiness to the inevitability of life. By you being happy making other choices, it rubs it in how wrong they were even though you’re certainly not trying to do that and they don’t realize that’s why they’re judging. Very insightful Diana!

    PS – Congratulations on expecting your first! I’m so happy for you!