On Marrying Young and Making it Work

By Jasmine

Jasmine is one who I knew I wanted to guest post on my blog right from the get go.  Why?  Well, first off she’s a journalist and a great writer.  Second off, her and her husband Jake have the BEST love at first sight story I’ve ever heard.  Third off, she’s the bees knees.  Fourth off, she uses the term “bull honky” in this post (which I didn’t know she would beforehand, but I had a hunch she would surprise me with such awe-inspiring prose).   –  Celeste

I’m 31 years old, and last December my husband, Jake, and I celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary. I’ll spare you the math and just tell you outright that I was 19 years, 4 months, and 5 days old when I walked out of the Idaho Falls, Idaho, LDS Temple in the snow a wife. My handsome groom had turned 22 about two months prior. Our wedding day was 7 months and 3 days after we had learned each other’s first names.

In Mormon culture none of this is noteworthy. We marry notoriously young and fast (that’s what happens, I always say to people, when you actually practice abstinence before marriage). But this information has produced shock, awe, and even horror when I’ve shared it with others outside the Mormon cocoon. I get it. When I see kids the same ages we were announcing their engagements, I have the same knee-jerk reaction. I want to ask them if they’re sure they’re ready, which of course they’re not. And neither were we.

But I always remember that young love is not to be reckoned with. The youthful combination of fully-formed hearts and less-than-fully-formed brains makes possible the concepts of star-crossed lovers and instant soul mates – ideas that, to reasonable adults, sound ridiculous. To those adults looking on in apprehension it looks like naïve children driven mad by hormones. That may be partly true, but I feel there is something spectacularly real in it as well. It’s like a superpower, this ability to go from zero to fight-till-the-death passion for someone else in a matter of days. As one who rode it in all of its exhilarating fury, I can say, yes, harnessing it with a degree of reason and logic, and in my case, prayer, was critical to things not getting completely out of hand. But I also wouldn’t trade or change a thing about my breakneck romance and cannonball-off-a-cliff marriage to a boy I barely knew.

I saw Jake for the first time in January my freshman year at Utah State University. I stood up from my computer in the student center and saw him sitting across from me. Our eyes met briefly and I felt a little shock of electricity go through me. Over the next few months we crossed paths fairly regularly all over campus. Our eyes would lock from a distance and I’d get that same electric shock. After a while we started smiling at each other. We didn’t have any mutual friends or classes or even a regular place or time that we would pass one another. But when we did. Boy. It was lightning bolts for me. I would learn later that for him it was like the whole world went black and white except for me, in brilliant Technicolor. By the time we finally worked up the nerve to talk, our first words to each other could have easily been, “I love you. What is your name?” They weren’t, but suffice it to say, things moved quickly in that direction.

The made up stories we know about youthful love at first sight don’t usually extend beyond the kiss or the vows. (Spoiler alert) Romeo and Juliet killed themselves before the issues of laundry duties or grocery budgets ever came up, and we never see Prince Philip and Princess Aurora deal with 3 a.m. diaper blowouts or utility bills.

And the real stories of crazy young love often end badly. Once the thrill and the mystery are replaced by dishes that need washing and time and money in very short supply, it stops being fun all the time and young couples often drift apart and/or make terrible mistakes that cost them their marriage.

Jake and I are living proof that it can work, though, despite all logic that would suggest otherwise. I will not argue that every couple that marries young can or even should survive. I also won’t argue that every love-crazed young couple should tie the knot (see above re: reason and logic). It is hard and the learning curve is very, very steep when you jump into the deep end so young. I will say, however, that if both parties are committed to each other and to the marriage, regardless of their youthful stupidity, miracles can happen.

In a way, Jake and I sort of grew up together as husband and wife. Our personalities were still very malleable. It was rough at times, but we came out of it fused and formed to each other in a way I’m not sure would have been possible had we been more set in our ways going into the marriage. We consider our mutual cradle-robbing to be a great asset.

I could share a million obvious marital tips we’ve learned like BE NICE TO EACH OTHER and BE SUPPORTIVE (which are really, very important and weren’t nearly as obvious to 19-year-old me as they should have been). But I whittled it down to three things I think can be applicable to any marriage at any stage and are maybe slightly less obvious:

  1. Remember your story. Remember it together and often. Feel those feelings again and remember that indefinable cosmic THING that drew you to each other. Don’t downplay it. If anything, exaggerate it. Turn it into the stuff of myth and legend.
  2. Don’t be afraid to need each other. You know that line in “Desperado?” “Freedom, oh-oh freedom. That’s just some people talkin’. Your prison is waaaalkin’ through … this world all alone.” That is true. Let go of the idea that you need to maintain your own space and “independence.” I don’t want to swear on this very nice blog, so I’ll tell you that that’s bull honky. Entangle yourself with your partner so fundamentally, atomically, that you don’t know where you end and they begin. It takes a lifetime. Don’t expect it’ll happen in a year, but trust that it can happen and strive for it. Your teenage years involve many feverish attempts at asserting independence and differentiating yourself, so if you get married at the height of that, this can be particularly hard. It took me a few years to really understand that, yes, we are different but I need him in my life, and, perhaps most revelatory, he needs ME. And that is not weakness on either person’s part. That is strength and resiliency and power.
  3. Go to each other first. On everything. If you’re happy or upset or scared or heartbroken or excited or you need someone else’s opinion, go to your spouse first. Not your mom, not your best friend, not an anonymous online message board. Let your soul mate be your soul mate. And when your spouse comes to you, be kind and honest and sensitive. Be friends and lovers and counselors and confidants. At its best a husband and wife really should be everything to each other.

My favorite quote about marriage comes from C. S. Lewis’s book “A Grief Observed,” which follows him through the mourning process after the death of his wife, whom he calls “H.”

“For a good wife contains so many persons in herself. What was H. not to me? She was my daughter and my mother, my pupil and my teacher, my subject and my sovereign; and always, holding all these in solution, my trusty comrade, friend, shipmate, fellow-soldier. My mistress; but at the same time all that any man friend (and I have good ones) has ever been to me. Perhaps more. …

“Solomon calls his bride Sister. Could a woman be a complete wife unless, for a moment, in one particular mood, a man felt almost inclined to call her Brother?”

It takes time and patience and requires both partners going all in, but it can become the most significant and rewarding effort either of you ever makes.Also, when you start feeling things drifting between you, you can just sing this song to each other: I’m pretty sure it could fix almost anything.

27 thoughts on “On Marrying Young and Making it Work

  1. Love your story! Rob and I were pretty much the same ages as you two were (I was 19 and Rob was 12 days shy of 23)!
    I couldn’t agree more with what you said. It’s all very true and very fun!

  2. Loved reading your story! Sure it’s hard to say a 19 and 22 year old are ready for marriage – but is anyone really ever ready for marriage? I think being in love and being determined to make it work is what is most important!

    1. I totally agree with you. I would add one more factor. Try to be happy while you are working through the tough spots.

  3. Love your story! I always get weird looks too – I was 2 months shy of my 21 birthday when I got married but 5 years in and I don’t regret it for a minute.

  4. Also a fan of Jasmine’s work, ever since the creative non-fiction writing class days at USU! From another angle (maybe another guest of Celeste’s will address this… and I’m not volunteering!), I am 32 and just got married. As the years went by, while living in the context of Utah and Mormonism, there were times when I thought of all the things Jasmine and other folks who’d married young said that were benefits. Oh no! I thought. I’m going to be too set in my ways! Oh no! I’m going to be too independent! Two weeks in, and most of these thoughts have yet to be tested, but they are thoughts that surface on a regular basis.

    1. Nelda! Holy cow! Worlds colliding! Congratulations and thank you. That is an excellent idea for a post. Celeste, take note! I think know someone who could nail it, too, if you need any ideas.

      1. Nedda? Is that you? (Squinting through the mists of the internets). Jasmine! You know Nelda?! Small world!

    2. Nelda AND Jasmine in one email?! My dream come true! I was scrolling to post to Jasmine about what an absolute classic piece this is and how much I love it — and here you both are! Two of my favorite people!

  5. Marriage is more of a daily decision, a commitment, than something you did once in a white dress. That doesn’t change no matter what age you are. I think my youthful independence and stubbornness, and “us-against-the-world” dramatics preserved our marriage more than once.

  6. I remember you telling us all that you saw but didn’t meet, your future husband. I don’t remember thinking you were crazy.

  7. A refreshing and new take on a age old principle. I loved it Jasmine! Great advice, and so well written!

  8. My friend, who is apparently a mutual friend between us, shared this article with me. I’m about to turn 28 and celebrate my 10th wedding anniversary with my sweetheart. I have gotten a lot of grief, including from members of the church, because of my decision to marry so quickly (10 weeks from first date to ‘I dos”) and so young, but we make it work because we both want to be with each other and we both work on ourselves as well. I love what you say about maturing together. We’ve become one in personality by complimenting each others strengths and weaknesses. We learned very early on that if we wanted a long and happy marriage, we needed to check selfishness at the door. We need constant reminding of that, but I credit that for much of our happiness. Any how! Thanks for your thoughts 🙂

  9. Great stuff Jasmine. I have a subtle sense of uniqueness in reading this story since I knew both you and Jake independently before you met 🙂 You have shared a lot of things that I have found to be truth as well. Heaven knows that there is tremendous power when I think on my wife and I’s “story.” It always ends with the thought. It almost always vanquishes the NOISE and leaves me with the thought “I am SO lucky that she is mine.”

    1. Jacob, that is so sweet. She’s a lucky gal! And yes, you hold a unique vantage point in our story :). We still laugh about the time you saw us all lovey dove somewhere and said, “How long have you even known each other? A week?”

  10. I love this- thank you for putting yourself out there in defense of marrying young! I was 20, husband 22, Jordan River Temple. We have 5 kids and we have been through some hard times, but in them have been knit together. My big struggle is that I have teenagers and they are fun and we have a lot in common and dad is at work and school, and I struggle to let him in sometimes. But I figure we will get better. We are trying to improve and I believe in Seasons. I agree wholeheartedly with tip #1. I always say that if you remember what brought you together and have the same end goal in mind, then you can get through the times where you are figuring out the rest of the stuff.

  11. I was two month’s shy of my 20th birthday when I married my best friend. We had only been dating for three months at the time. Yes. It was fast. Yes. It was difficult because neither of us was ready. This September we will celebrate 20 years together. We have had our good times and our not so good times. Everyone does. The trick is to keep working. Keep doing all you can to live the way your Father in Heaven wants you to. You can’t control someone else’s choices, but you can do all in your power to not be the cause of failure.

  12. As always, you and Jake are so stinkin’ inspiring! Shame on you for moving to Iowa and only letting our paths cross for a short time. You guys are great and have made such an impression on us!

  13. Jasmine your writing is just beautiful! I was tearing up while reading, thank you for sharing. I will add that, although very difficult, it is possible to have a long engagement & practice abstinence. My husband and I were engaged probably 4 months after we met and have been inseparable since the day we uttered our first words to eachother, but we were not married until 4 years after our engagement. We were in college, and were able to save up a lot more by living with family through college and our first year or so out of college. It was really tough, and I remember just being so distraught thinking it would never be over, but I’m also happy how it worked out. When we finally married, we knew we were strong in our relationship & were bonded beyond our physical attraction. We also knew that we were able to support children if we were blessed with them. Long engagements are certainly not for the faint of heart, but it worked out for the best certainly for us. We have already had some trials throughout our relationship, last year we lost 3 pregnancies and I had to have emergency surgery. But I’m certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that our engagement prepared us for those trials, because we learned early on how to express our love in meaningful ways when sex wasn’t an option. I so appreciate your post! Thanks again for sharing <3

    1. Wow! That is amazing! No doubt you two are tough cookies and ready to withstand anything … though I hope the future is kind to you both.

  14. I loved your story. 57-1/2 years ago at barely age 20 I married my best friend two weeks after he returned from his mission at age 22. We had dated seriously for two years before he left. It has been an amazing ride together, even with both of us having serious health problems recently. We helped each other through the rough spots and now have 45 members of our family. My father-in-law used to tell our children their parents’ marriage was ‘made in heaven’ and it has been heaven ever since. We did as you did and helped each other through the tough times. We have been SO BLESSED to have found each other when we were young and grown up together…in love….

  15. Your story sounds much like mine. I was nineteen and one month old when we met. He was just a day past twenty-two. We were married in three and one half months…now thirty nine years later, I will attest that you have hit it right on the nose. Love is great! Marriage is work, but stay committed to each other, the gospel of Jesus Christ, and life can be beautiful! I am lucky to have been a teenaged bride. At the end of our lives, my husband and I will be able to say, “wheee, what a ride!”

  16. I absolutely loved reading this love story! I usually skim past ones like this, but it truly captivated me. I am 24 and single, but I think there is a right time for everyone — and age shouldn’t be a factor!
    ​​​​xo katie ​​// a touch of teal

  17. My husband and I got engaged 9 days after we met. Married two months later. I had turned 18 three days before we got married in the Manti temple. Here we are now, with six kids and almost 27 years later and I wouldn’t change any of our story. It does tend to shock even the most open people when we share our story.

  18. This article was SO MUCH FUN to read! You’re such a witty writer with such a great story! These comments have been darling also. Loe love LOVE this whole conversation.
    My husband and I are always saying that we expected to grow old together, but didn’t realize that first we’d have to grow up together! As terrifying and challenging as it can be to make all your life decisions (and mistakes) together, dragging one another along for the ride, it gives us the opportunity to fall for each other again and again. We get to know and discover one another as we change and develop. How exciting! Plus, I’m sure we could all agree that regardless of the age of marriage, or current length of marriage, both parties will still be a work in progress. That’s just life and the joy of sharing yours with someone!

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