I never wanted to marry young or fast. I was unsure I could ever find a guy who met my standards and would really want to commit to me anyway. I wanted to get married, but I imagined it happening when I was in my mid- or late-twenties, after dating for a long while.
Then, I got married at 21, less than a year after returning from my mission, to some guy I met in that less-than-a year.
Yep, I’m that person.
I know I’m not an extreme case; there are definitely many others who have married younger and faster than I. But I still think I can count myself a member of the married-young-and-fast club.
As someone who has done it, would I recommend marrying young and fast to anyone else?
More importantly, is it something that would please God?
To answer these questions, let me explain a little more of my experience, as well as the results of a little retrospective research.
Yuck; the romantic part
The last Thursday in August, I came home from my mission—heartbroken and wishing I could go back. Instead, I only half unpacked my suitcases, moved away to college on Sunday, and started school on Monday.
Matt was in my country swing dance class. It took a couple months in the class to really talk, but we became fast friends. He asked me out a couple weeks after we became friends, and then we officially started dating about two weeks after that.
I think it’s important to say that it didn’t feel like a sign from heaven when he asked me to go on a date or when he asked me to be his girlfriend. Don’t get me wrong, it was flattering and nice. I was even grateful and considered it a blessing. But the Spirit never said to me, this is your soulmate! Don’t let him go!
I wasn’t certain the first date would be the best one ever. I wasn’t certain that things would work out when I agreed to start dating exclusively. But I was confident Matt was a good man who would treat me well and who prioritized God in his life, so I was willing to give it a try.
We spent a lot of time together. It was easy to do so; we lived in the same complex, attended the same church building in the same stake, and were assigned as dance partners in our dance class. Soon, we started carpooling to the store and to the temple every week, doing homework together most every day, attending institute together, and, yes, going on dates.
Mostly, we just talked. We talked about simple things, things that were important to us, things we learned in church and institute, things we were concerned about or unsure of.
Although I thought it was wonderful, I don’t think many would call it the most romantic courtship. We didn’t even kiss until we had been officially dating for almost a month! (Of course, it was long distance over most of that time, during Christmas break. But when they found this out, my family thought I just had a “fake boyfriend.”)
God didn’t send me any lightning, but He didn’t have to. I just knew Matt was good and I could handle the things about him that were, well, imperfect.
After a couple short months of dating, we started getting serious. I asked Matt about his intentions. He said he didn’t see himself ever dating anyone else, but that he had previously decided to date someone for a full year before getting married.
I was quick to remind him that we had officially started dating at the very beginning of December, and then informed him that I was not getting married in the winter or the middle of the school year. If he wanted to stick to this goal, he would have to marry me after over 18 months of dating.
About a month later, we were engaged.
Total dating time: about 3 months.
We hoped to get married in August, but due to family conflicts, the latest we could push the date was June. So we had a lovely June wedding.
Total engagement time: about 3 months.
I had known this guy a grand total of about 7 months.
In retrospect, would I recommend this to my younger self or to anyone else?
“Be not afraid; only believe.”Mark 5:36
A year and a half later, I have no regrets. I love, love being married, and I love, love my husband.
I am grateful to have not waited another minute to get married. There certainly were many obstacles leading up to the wedding, and we certainly have experienced many more challenges since then. But the blessings have been worth ten times more than all that combined.
I have a testimony that God loves marriage and has set it as a pattern for our own happiness and benefit.
The best advice I would tell my younger self and any other single person is this: Do not fear getting married young or fast.
Of course, there is no need to rush any relationship, either! I think, though, getting married too quickly or too young is less likely than putting off marriage when it may be right. Once you have decided you have found a person whom you love and trust enough to spend forever with and have received heavenly confirmation that he or she is a good choice, there is no reason to wait!
I should take a moment to acknowledge how God feels about those who desire marriage but are not married (and may be tempted to rush into marriage after settling on a less-than-satisfactory spouse):
Some who are not married, through no fault of their own, ask whether they will always be denied the highest degree of glory in [the Celestial Kingdom]. I am confident that under the plan of a loving Father and a divine Redeemer, no blessing of which you are otherwise worthy will forever be denied you.Gordon B. Hinckley, 1991
How does God feel about His children getting married young and fast?
First, we must understand that God wishes all His children to receive the blessing and ordinance of eternal marriage.
“… marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.”The Family: A Proclamation to the World
I think we can learn much about how God feels about getting married young and fast from the guidelines in the Dating section of the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet. Just from these few paragraphs, it is clear that the Lord encourages dating, prioritizes the goal of marriage, and desires the spiritual and physical safety of all His children as they date and marry.
The Lord teaches youth when and how to appropriately begin dating:
You should not date until you are at least 16 years old. When you begin dating, go with one or more additional couples. Avoid going on frequent dates with the same person. Developing serious relationships too early in life can limit the number of other people you meet and can perhaps lead to immorality. Invite your parents to become acquainted with those you date.
I am confident that abiding by these early dating standards will naturally and appropriately pace relationships and prevent rushing into marriage.
The last paragraph further reveals God’s purpose for dating and marriage and outlines later dating standards:
As you enter your adult years, make dating and marriage a high priority. Seek a companion who is worthy to go to the temple to be sealed to you for time and all eternity. Marrying in the temple and creating an eternal family are essential in God’s plan of happiness.
This excerpt from (and entirety of) Elder Holland’s discourse in a 2015 CES (Church Education System) broadcast encourages my personal conclusion on this topic:
… [youth and young adults] are fearful that the world will just get more difficult, that jobs will be too hard to find, and that one should be out of school, out of debt, have a career, and own a home before considering marriage.
Good grief! On that formula Sister Holland and I still wouldn’t be married! Seriously, when we got married we were both still undergraduates at BYU, with neither set of parents able to help us at all financially, no way to imagine all the graduate education we had yet ahead of us, and this with $300 dollars between us on our wedding day! Now that may not be the ideal way to start a marriage, but what a marriage it has been and what we would have missed if we had waited even one day longer than we did once we knew that that marriage was right. Sure, there was sacrifice; certainly there were restless days and weeks and months; certainly there was some burning of the midnight oil. But I tremble to think what we would have lost if we had taken “counsel from our fears,” as President James E. Faust would later tell me over and over and over that I and no one else should ever do.
But above all
The decision of whom and when to marry is something on which you should seek personal counsel from the Lord.
“But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.” D&C 9:8
In any relationship, there must come a point when you decide if you will pursue marriage with this person or look elsewhere. Make the decision, then ask God for confirmation, ready to act either way when He answers.
Each time I prayed to know if I should pursue this relationship, I felt peace and confirmation that Matt was a good man and would be good to and for me. It happened when we started dating, when we got serious, and when we were engaged.
I promise that God loves you and that this pattern will lead you to the greatest happiness possible.
What did I miss?
Do you think getting married young and fast is good, bad, or something in between? What advice would you give a single friend of marrying age?