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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?”