The Perilous Pitfalls of Marrying Young

Getting married at any age is like descending into the cavernous lair of a supervillain. No one in their right mind wouldn’t expect to trip a few lasers and get beset by half-shark, half-crocodile hybrids, because, you know, villainous shit happens. Marriage crises happen.

But people who marry young, while cockily aware of the hybrid beasties, are criminally unprepared to deal with anything else: not attacks from Barbara Bush zombie-clones or sprinklers that spray the corrosive blood of fallen angels or any one of a host of calamities that make them finally realize their Getting Ready for Marriage Workbook must have been written by a eunuch or Charlie Sheen.

I’m 22 and I’ve been married for over a year now, which means I have the body of a young person but the premature mental inclinations of someone who religiously watches OWN, has a semi-regular laundry schedule, and is overly protective of the special, ceramic dish that is for depositing loose change and keys only.

I’m also an expert on the following:

– Betraying feminism, part 1: changing my last name with the same enthusiastic abandon I use in signing up for free gym classes,  then quickly realizing that some things are more permanent than Pilates and you can’t just “not show up” to your own freaking last name.

– Enduring thinly veiled jealousy from friends and cousins who don’t believe me when I say sometimes I miss the excitement of being single and living in a studio and sleeping in a twin-sized Ikea loft bed that could collapse into particle board splinters at any moment.

-Enduring thinly veiled pity from friends and cousins who believe me all too well.

– Going to see Oscar-bait relationship movies in theaters full of middle-aged couples and laughing not only at the exact same time as them, but with the same world-weary timbre.

– Listening to the Pearl Jam song “Better Man” after arguments with my partner and thinking it’s at once poignant and kind of naïve.

– Betraying feminism, part 2: making my partner empty mouse traps while loudly proclaiming that it is not that I am afraid of mice but that I haven’t been vaccinated recently and they are more disease-ridden than the bottom of a Carnival cruise hot tub.

– Becoming a prism through which people only see a magnified version of my partner, as in “Right, sure, but what does your husband do?” and “Hey, could you move over? You’re impeding my view of your husband.”

– Not knowing one single thing about OKCupid. It’s like the site is fire and I’m a bewildered cavewoman sitting in a corner, scratching my butt and shrieking whenever a piece of ash drifts near me.

– Being subjected to loud, public speculation about the contents of my uterus, which makes me want to take a stapler to my abdomen and then frown at a baby until it cries.

– Parrying pesky statistics about how there’s a 60% chance we’ll get divorced with a statistic that there’s a 75% chance we’ll commit murder-suicide first, so, you know. Jussayin’.

– Giving up even the illusion of absolute bathroom privacy. It’s like the sound of one person showering switches on a Pavlovian need in the other to take a dump.

– Wishing instead of “the toothpaste debate” people had warned me about the IPA vs. Stout vs. I-just-want-to-drink-cheap-shit-to-get-wasted debate.

– Being the presumed expert on all things long-term relationship, even though I  always try to back away from that by telling people about this one  time I and my partner didn’t talk to each for three days and it wasn’t even because of a fight, it was just because. But they always misinterpret that story as some kind of earth-shattering wisdom that needs to be embroidered on a pillow and stored away in a mothball-stocked hope chest.

– Realizing that I don’t care about everything else because guess what? Free sex whenever I want it! Because true Old Marrieds always end on a positive note. When they’re not ending in divorce-murder-suicide.

18 replies on “The Perilous Pitfalls of Marrying Young”

For me, choosing to change my last name wasn’t a feminist issue. The last name is connected to family. My former last name came from a family that treated me like crap, emotionally abused me for 18 years and abandoned me in stages. I was happy to be joining my in-law family and taking their name… having a last name that meant love and acceptance rather than someone I had no connection to. But that’s my story. And changing a name is one of those things that I feel is such a personal decision that no one else has a right to force their opinion about it on anyone else.

On a lighter note ;) Amen to the sometimes wishing to be single again. I wasn’t particularly young when we got married (24), but we’d been together since I was 19, 4 years of it long distance. I really yearn for the long distance days and the freedom of my schedule that came with it sometimes. I mean, can you believe that my husband thinks that going to Wal-Mart at 3am just because isn’t a great idea?

I got married young, at 24, but I had already had the baby (at 22) and been with my now-husband at 19, so I feel sometimes like I’ve been married for, like, ever. Not in the bad way though. Sometimes I wonder what I would have done had I been single when I was ‘supposed’ to be single, and then sometimes I’m just so happy that I didn’t have to go through so much of the drama that my 20something-and-dating friends did. Not to mention that I generated plenty of drama prior to settling down myself.

It was accepted between the two of us that I wasn’t giving up my last name and I offered that he could change his, and then for a while we toyed with combining our names into a new name, but ended up going the simplest route. It was such a non-issue that when my best friend eventually got married and I automatically continued referring to her as Maiden Last Name, because, hey, why would she change hers, she reamed me to the moon and back. We don’t speak anymore. I’m not sure this is unrelated to the last-name dust up.

This comes at the most perfect time; three coworkers are recently engaged, and all on holidays, so the pressure’s been on me since January 2nd(I’m “next!!” because I’m next in line age-wise).
I’m the one who was NEVER going to get married; marriage and kids never appealed to me because I was supposed to spend my life adventuring. Since meeting LaulaBoy I’ve realized that I can have both, and that I WANT both. Just not now.
I’m 22, he’s 27, and he’s much more into the marriage thing than I am. We moved in together 6 months ago and it’s been much more good than bad (hooray for free any-time sex, and he cooks!), but I’m finding it weird how much nesting has changed me. Definitely never thought I’d be the one arguing about towels left on the floor and getting excited about Trader Joe’s coupons.

From the time that I started things about such things, I always knew that I wanted to live with someone before marrying them – you just get to know someone in a completely different way when you live with them. (And not just romantic relationships, I found the same thing when I took friends as roommates in college.) I’d always figured that I would probably never get married or if I did it wouldn’t be until my late thirties or so. And it’s been weird adjusting my perception of myself now that I have my partner (we’re both 24 and have been together for almost 2 years, living together for a little over 1, and knew we wanted to get married about 8 months into our relationship). Like, it will hit me when we’re bickering about Swiffering the floor or he’s bustling around the kitchen making dinner – we’re in this for good, and it’s weird and awesome.

(That ended up being only tangentially related to your comment, but what you said made me think of all that.)

This was so wonderful, especially the ending.

I met the guy I’m gonna marry on OKCupid! (it’s not weird, you guys. Internet dating doesn’t harbor the same taboos as it did in like, 1994…even if I still feel like I have to prefix it with “It’s not weird, you guys.”) I don’t intend to change my name, but I do look forward to the rest of this one day.

When I was 18 I dated a guy wit parents who consistently speculated about the contents of my womb. But my Keeper’s retired parents travel the country in an RV, so Skyping about anticipated grand-babies would be more than a little awkward…sweet deal for me, for at least a few years!

Oh you crack me up!! It’s all so true. I felt that way as a newlywed ten years ago, although I was older than you. There are just certain things that come with the territory.

I like to think of the name game as a trade – I take your name, and you: take out the trash, do all things car related, deal with critters (dead and alive), and buy me jewelry. It’s a fair trade :)

Ah yes–one of the perils of being a die-hard liberal feminist is enduring your friends’ horror and dismay when you announce you are taking your husband’s last name. It doesn’t seem to matter that your maiden name is 97 letters long and only pronounceable to people who live in the Czech Republic, and your husband’s name is 4 letters long and completely phonetic. Then you have to deal with your new in-laws’ astonishment that you ever considered *not* taking your husband’s name, and your mother-in-law’s insistence on addressing every card and letter to you as “Mrs. Hisfirstname Hislastname.” For ten freaking years. So far–we’ll see if she ever gives that shit up.

I didn’t take my husband’s last name, pretty much for the inverse reason as you: mine is really easy, and his is a big old mess of improbable letter combinations. I still get mail addressed to “Pileofmonkeys Husband’slastname” or “Mrs. Husband’s Full Name.” With older generations, I just let it go; it’s what they’re used to. I have a cousin who’s my age who does it, though, and it makes me crazy. Everything I ever send is from “Pileofmonkeys Mylastname,” and to just ignore that seems disrespectful to me.

First of all, you are not betraying feminism by not wanting to touch a dead mouse. If you loudly proclaimed that mouse removal is men’s work while dancing on a chair wearing a frilly apron, that might be considered anti-feminist. Just saying “Hell no, I don’t want to touch that – you do it.” is expressing a personal preference, and we’re all allowed to do that.

Second, your OKCupid/cavewoman comparison is hi-larious. It makes me feel like one of the apes around the monolith at the beginning of “2001: A Space Odyssey”

Oh jeez, my boyfriend has two sisters, both of whom married in the last six months. Now whenever we see any member of his extended family it’s “you’re next.” Back off, dudes! I’d totally marry the guy but I’d like to wait until my brother has the right to marry too.

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