From Promposals to Proposals in Just Four Years
by Joshen Mantai
While most college students are swiping their way to find their next hookup on Tinder or searching for a temporary make-out mate at a Friday night rager, some students are going against the mainstream — by getting hitched. Planning a wedding while tackling finals and securing an internship is definitely against the norm, but not unheard of.
When I first considered the idea of getting married during college, I cringed. I wasn’t vehemently against it, but I couldn’t help but reflect on my past terrible relationships and wonder humorously what the future would hold if I had married one of my exes. Marriage in college would be highly distracting and an obstacle I could not balance with the pressure of school. I similarly thought about my indecisiveness in college so far and some of my friends who have changed their major at least a dozen times. How can someone be that sure about committing to someone in college when so many aspects of a college student’s life are constantly up in the air? I’ve changed so much from one year to another, and I couldn’t imagine how much I would adapt to marriage during these formative years.
These are not just my reservations. It’s hard to think about the prospect of marriage in college when girls at universities are constantly tweeting about how they “can’t get a text back.” Are there college students out there who are truly mature enough to be in a seriously committed — not to mention legally binding — relationship and are willing to be tied down for the rest of their lives at age 20?
Naturally, there have been various stories about couples who have gotten married in college — some heartwarming and others disheartening. Reading through a Reddit thread of couples who married in college, I was amazed by how many couples got married in their first or second year of college and who have been together for 10, maybe even 20 years since then, living together happily with kids. Of course, some weren’t as lucky and ended up divorcing because their life paths inevitably moved in very different directions.
I myself have a few friends who have gotten married right when they hit college — all married to guys enlisted in the military. It is not unexpected that military marriages occur right before deployment because of long-term separation, among other factors. My best friend from middle school and the better half of high school ended up getting married at the end of high school, which I could have never imagined happening. One moment, I could remember us running around in her neighborhood (quite literally) chasing after a boy we both liked, and the next, she had a serious boyfriend for four years whom she married in a small ceremony. It was a shock to my system, especially since she ultimately ended up giving up a lot of her dreams for him, like dropping out of college and forgoing her veterinary aspirations to live with him in California where he is stationed. But ultimately, I did know one thing: She loved being with him, no matter the cost.
Relationships in young adulthood are so dynamic and clouded by uncertainty. One day, you could be celebrating your birthday with your best friend, and the next year, she’s gone from your life without so much as a “happy birthday” text. If you can find a built-in best friend in a marital partner during the craziness that is college, that is definitely something to cherish. Having someone who is a constant in your life, with whom you can share the exciting and devastating moments is comforting, to say the least. It’s nice to have someone who won’t outgrow you.
I think part of the problem people have with college students getting married is that we have become a largely judgemental society. We adhere to an unrealistic timeline of when major life events should “ideally” occur that defines what is and is not socially acceptable. Not only is this timeline plastered all over the internet, but it is also ingrained in familial expectations: Graduate college, get a job, get married somewhere between the ages of 24-28 and have kids before 35.
We need to reflect on our predisposed notions of how others should live their lives. Because at the end of the day, who should really care if you’re breaking the norm? If you found the right person that brings you immense happiness — why wait?
Most importantly, college students are constantly evolving and maturing, often for the first time on their own. I definitely have experienced personal growth from high school to college when it comes to seeing the red flags in my relationships. I’ve witnessed the dissolution of some of my friends’ romantic relationships as a consequence of misunderstanding each other or having stark contrasting visions for their futures. I believe that at the end of the day, if someone is in your life who accepts you fundamentally and wants to grow with you, they’re worth holding onto. Marriage at a young age can ultimately contribute to a unique perspective that can yield purpose and focus that others won’t experience.
I will not deny that my personality trait of being a hopeless romantic has contributed to my altered stance on marriage in college. While I haven’t been involved in the healthiest romantic relationships and have yet to date a guy who has truly cherished and accepted me for the person I am, I’ve seen deep respect in a relationship form almost effortlessly in couples around me.
I’ve seen the spark blow out in a relationship of mine and reignite with someone new just as fast as the next week. People enter our lives at very fateful moments, and when we individually decide to get married should ultimately depend on individual circumstances — not outside influences or societal expectations.
Joshen Mantai encourages you to make individualized decisions independent of socially constructed ideals.
Say No To the Dress
by Sara Rubin
Picture this. You are standing in an aisle, staring at the love of your life while your friends and family watch you take a vow that will last for eternity. During my childhood, I was ingrained with the idea of a magical fairytale wedding. Disney Princess movies gave me a conventional and outdated model. They filled me with hopes that my prince charming would one day rescue me with a kiss. Later in life, romantic movies taught me that at the end of the day, love always wins.
Now, I am nearing almost 20 years old, and the fantasy wedding I used to dress my Barbie dolls up for is the furthest thing from my mind.
It’s not that I have stopped believing in love. I still hold on to the notion that one day I will find my knight in shining armor. But while taking marriage vows and having a family are important to me, I could never imagine committing myself to someone for the rest of my life in college.
Let’s begin by assuming that one has already met the love of their life this early. The first point I would like to emphasize is how young and inexperienced we all are. Most of us have never owned our own apartment or house, have never had a full time job and don’t know what it is like to be 100% independent.
The newfound freedom we experience in college is an important stepping stone towards becoming full-fledged adults. However, if one decides to get married at this young age, they are skipping past the growth and change you experience when you are forced to stand on your own two feet. Life is full of uncertainties, and while having someone by your side is a constant that can bring comfort, you are also hindering your capability to rely on yourself.
The strength and new skills one acquires when living on their own can help prepare a person for the uncertainties that can be thrown at them in the future. This dependence on another can lead one to forgo taking responsibility for their own actions, as they will always expect someone else to help them with their mistakes.
Additionally, one never learns how to accept being alone. My grandmother always told me that “we must be the center of our own universe, because the one constant in our lives is ourselves.” As college students, we are experiencing a pivotal and impressionable time in our lives, and if we don’t learn how to not only accept but enjoy being alone, then we will never have the strength to get through life with just ourselves. Self-love and self-confidence are what drive us to reach for our dreams, and to be happy with who we are. That is a rather difficult goal to achieve when someone else provides emotional security for you.
I would also like to point out how important exposing oneself to different relationships is. While I have dated a few people already, I would not feel ready to commit the rest of my life to another person without going through at least a few more heartbreaks. Relationships teach us important lessons regarding life, and help us find out who we truly are. Marriage is a huge step, and I know I will need more practice being in relationships before taking it.
Dating also shows us what qualities we want in a partner, and what qualities we don’t. These lessons are a gift that help reveal more of who we are. Not many other circumstances in life can better demonstrate one’s strength than having to overcome a breakup. To have that history is imperative. When we finally find the person we want to be with, we will have learned from our past and understood what it takes to really make a relationship work.
At this time in our lives we are undergoing massive changes. Grad schools or job offers can be across the country from one another, and it’s difficult to pick up your whole life and move when another person is involved. If your partner keeps you from pursuing your full potential, you may begin to resent one another. Sacrifice is often needed for a marriage to work; however, to forgo such big opportunities is unfair for everyone involved.
These changes occur in ourselves as well. I often hear adults say that the person they were in college is nothing like the person they are today. We mature and learn an abundance of lessons during this period and sometimes the individual you marry will not be the same person years later. This “metamorphosis” can change how two people work together, and turn a once-perfect marriage sour.
At the end of the day, this argument is not to deter people from marrying altogether. I write this as a cautionary tale for those who desire to get married at this young age. Life gets in the way when we make plans, and with more experience, time and wisdom, I believe we can be better equipped to handle one of the most serious commitments of our lives.
Sara Rubin will not be getting married any time soon.