Let me begin with a personal story. In early 2007 I was a senior in high school looking forward to graduation and going five hours away to college. My then boyfriend, who I'd been on and off with for about a year, started talking very seriously about marriage. I was young, in love, and "too big for my britches." He spoke to his parents; he spoke to mine. And in March of that year, he proposed. I said yes, of course, and then floated around on cloud-nine with a ring on my finger for the next few weeks. We set a date and I began to dream of white tulips and a green color scheme. It was all down hill from there, though. He had never been an, honest, trustworthy, faithful guy and his bad behavior only escalated. Needless to say, the bliss of engagement was short-lived. In late April or early May (I can't remember which), I caught him with another girl and gave the ring the back.
I don't talk a whole lot about that month-long engagement. Mostly because I've grown up a lot over the past three years and looking back, I am overwhelmed by how silly I was. It was doomed from the start. It was a rocky, dramatic, high-school relationship. He didn't treat me as I deserved to be treated. We weren't together very long. And the major factor: I was simply too young. I was barely eighteen. I often wonder why my parents gave that ex-bf the consent to propose to me. If they had told us to wait, would we have listened? Probably not. I have a feeling that they knew we would have to learn the hard way.
Looking back, I am soooo very glad that I did learn the hard way... and that I learned my lesson before we were even close to heading down the aisle. As grown up as I thought I was, I wasn't ready for marriage. I was barely ready for college. Additionally, it would have been a terrible relationship to commit to. Just to imagine the financial strain, the trust issues, and the emotional distress that would have come as part of the package of marrying my ex gives me a stomach ache. If I wouldn't have given that ring back, if I'd tried to fix that unfixable relationship, if I'd actually become his wife---my life would be drastically different, probably for the worse.
Three years later, I am in a wonderful relationship with the funniest, handsomest, sweetest guy. We've been dating for over a year and a half and while he's most definitely a keeper, I foresee us dating for a few more years before taking that big leap. I do look forward to the possibility of an engagement and marriage down the road, but I'm in no hurry to get there. It's quite amazing to be content right where I am. We're together now. We plan to be together in the future. So what's the sense in rushing?
I think some people seriously underrate dating. They take it for granted. They forget that you can be in a serious, committed relationship for several years without having to have a ring on the finger. Why not savor the dating stage? A majority of a person's lifetime is spent married, so why is exchanging vows so urgent to some people?
Personally, I have a lot of my own goals that I want to accomplish before taking those vow. I want to graduate college. I want to have a stable job in my career. And I want to be financially stable enough to support myself before entering into that union.
I can't believe that at the age of 21, I'm surrounded by kids my age and younger who are getting engaged and married. I know girls who are desperate to have a ring on their finger--so desperate that they turn green with envy instead of sincerely congratulating a couple. And to be honest, I'm concerned.
Just a side note: That ex-bf of mine eventually met a another girl. I heard that they were engaged within a month and married within another. (She was only 18 or 19!) A year after their wedding... they're separated, she's pregnant, and a divorce is probably on the horizon.
What do you think about getting married before or during college?
Disclaimer: I realize that all relationships are different and that situations vary. I'm not saying that all young engagements or marriages are doomed. (I've seen many that work out just fine!) I'm just weighing in on my own personal beliefs and ideas toward this rush-to-the-altar phenomenon.