College campuses are fraught with heartbreak, drama, people coming together and falling in love; especially at BYU-Idaho. I am positive you could ask anyone on campus for an awkward date story and you would get several.
In December 2017, I got engaged. It was my first semester in college, and the proposal happened less than six months after I graduated high school. I knew it was coming, we had even talked about a wedding date before he proposed. So we decided to get married in April 2018, even though we still were in our freshman year of college.
The BYU-I student body has 20,226 students on campus. Of those, 4,808 are married — 23%. The 2003 US National Census said, on average only 7% of undergraduate students are married.
The number has gone down since then; BYU-I has the highest percentage of married students out of any other college in the US. By being part of the 7%, I have a unique perspective.
While I will always defend my decision to get married so young, like all other relationships, it comes with challenges.
Being an 18-year-old bride in Rexburg didn’t feel weird because everybody knows about the culture of “BYU-I Do” and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ values of eternal families and temple marriages.
When I went home to Southern California for Christmas, being an 18-year-old bride felt weird. Suddenly, people were questioning everything I did and challenging the validity of my relationship. It made sense to me though, I know it’s crazy as heck. In a generation of people fighting to be noticed, I accidentally made myself stand out just by doing the “traditional” thing and getting married.
People told me it would hold me back, that I was throwing my career and life away, that committing to being with someone forever before I was 25 was crazy since my brain isn’t fully developed yet. And I think for some people that is true. I do not recommend marrying their high school sweetheart to everyone.
When you’re dating as a teenager, you are learning how to act in a relationship and what it all means. First dates are fun; first kisses are even more exciting. But I am not sad to be missing the next five to 10 years of parties and breakups because I have a household to run and bills to pay. I get to do those things with my husband, who is my partner and best friend. I am not being held back by marriage.
I did not go into marriage saying, “If we have any trials, then I think we will be okay.” I said, “When we have hard times, he is the one I want by my side to get through it all.” It is not lost on me that 50% of marriages end in divorce.
People warned me that getting married young is hard because you have to try to grow up and grow closer to each other at the same time. After a year of marriage, I know that it takes work to do both, but it was something I wanted to do.
Getting married as a teenager brought its own set of challenges, but every relationship is unique. It doesn’t mean I was jumping the gun too soon. I got married because I knew we were equally committed to making our relationship happy and successful. I got married because I have the most fun with my husband out of anyone else on the planet. I got married because we challenge and support each other to become better people.
I got married knowing that I would have a relationship that was challenging, loving and strong; one that would get deeper every day because it is a blessing. So what if I was 18 on my wedding day?
I got married at 18 because I wanted to commit myself to my husband in a way that would last forever. We made the decision to get married because we were in love, and what better reason is there?