“You’ve been with your husband for how long???” A look of disgust washes over the other mom’s face. “Did you start dating when you were 3?” I’m not exactly that young! “Have you ever even dated another man?” I’m thinking that junior year of high school wasn’t exactly what she is talking about. Maybe I should bite my lip. I thought it was a special thing to be with your husband since you were young. To grow up together. I think my friend thinks otherwise…
I met my husband the good old-fashioned way—friend of a friend…yadda yadda yadda. There was chemistry, it builded up, and before I knew it I was head over heels. Literally. Not thinking straight, swept away, and full of tingles. The only problem with this love story is that I was 18.
If we were talking about my grandparents, this would almost be normal. However, these days it’s incredibly rare. I was married by 24. In my community, I was pretty much a child bride. My best friend got married 10 years after I did and she was completely on par with our peers.
For some, usually those who have been single way longer than they’d like, they think it’s sweet. Childhood romance blossoms into long term love. For others, they find my story sad. I never made a selfish decision in my life. Correction: I may have made plenty of selfish decisions but I never made a decision where I didn’t have to take into account somebody else. I never got to be an independent adult.
“Didn’t you ever want to play the field?” Fellow mom says with a look of pride and inflated self-esteem. Certainly there were times that I wished I had played the field a little more. I have really never gone on a date. I can’t remember our first date when I was 18, and I know even less what it is like dating as an adult.
I never JDate-ed or Tinder-ed. That’s like Facebook, right? I’m joking, but that is a whole culture I know nothing about. I have no idea what it is like to judge a person’s bio to see if their values align with mine. And to that point, I didn’t know that my 19-year-old love interest’s values would continue to align with mine. I didn’t size up his life choices and interests and intellectualize them to make sure they were a good fit for me long term. That doesn’t mean that my husband did not prove to me over our six years of dating that he was a good fit for me. It just means that the Internet dating world allows for some perspective that you don’t have when you are swept up in lust.
“Didn’t you ever think you’d grow OUT of each other since you were together when you were babies?”
Too often you hear about people growing away from each other. I’d imagine that’s more common with people who marry young. Who you are as an immature, inexperienced 24-year-old is often not who you are 10, 20, 30 years later. Hopefully my story with my husband is only in its infancy (17 years in), but instead of growing out of each other, we’ve grown UP together. I’m not sure I would have the values and thoughts I have if he didn’t influence them. It’s not that I’m without my own opinions—just ask him, that’s certainly not the case. It’s that our perspectives have matured and grown over conversations, sharing thoughts and our joint experiences.
I often say that our love story will not end well. If we make it the long haul, we have death and sadness ahead. If we can’t cut it until then, something went terribly wrong. The truth is that 17 years into this relationship, I still have a crush on him. I wish our timeline had started a little later in life, but I would not trade the time I’ve had with him. So instead of focusing on the end, I’m going to enjoy the ride. The ride of growing a family, working on careers, supporting the growing needs of our family—all while having my very best friend with me who I’m lucky to have a crush on even after all these years.
So I chose to look this fellow mom straight in the eye and say, “I feel incredibly blessed to have met my person so early in. Most people search a lifetime for what I found at 18. And the truth is that I wouldn’t change my history for all the dates, fun times, or anything.”