Clark and I got engaged the spring of our junior year in college. We began dating when we were 16 years old and never questioned if we wanted to spend our lives together. The question between us was always when would we make "forever" happen?
As the fall semester of our junior year progressed we began having serious conversations. We shared our hopes and plans for the next couple of years and after graduation. Sometimes those dreams matched up and other times they didn't coincide at all. Clark knew he wanted to play professional baseball and was willing to do whatever he needed to get there. I knew I was graduating a semester early but had no idea what I wanted to do or where I wanted to be. But I knew I wanted to be with Clark.
( I never hesitated to show that desire to him either haha. I have a lot of respect for girls who never speak a word about marriage to their guys. As much as I wish I could say I sat back and let Clark handle it all, that's just not real and not me. Shout out to that controlling nature of women.)
On a rainy Sunday morning in late April, Clark proposed to me in the same spot we met many years ago (his high school football field). Almost all our friends and family were there to celebrate us, and I was full of excitement.
But to be honest getting engaged is overwhelming. I went to bed thinking "what the heck did we just do?"
As news spread, and I really mean as we both posted an Instagram and people started screenshotting and sharing in groupmes, the texts/comments flooded in. All were sweet and singing praises of Clark and me. Of course, nobody is going to send a text that says, "you guys are too young and I think you're crazy but good luck!" Even if that's what most people were thinking.
A lot of people did ask questions to my friends about what we were going to do or why we got engaged so young.
So these are the top questions and comments we received during our engagement. Plus, the things I wish someone would have warned us about, good and bad.
"Did you guys talk about this before or did he just propose?"
This is the biggest question people would ask me to my face. When you get married as young as we did, it is rarely a surprise/shock. I mean I had no idea how he was going to propose- but yes, we talked about it. I would have freaked out if I didn't have an idea it was coming. But some people would rather not know...but not me. I love to plan too much for that.
"What did your parents think?"
I can't speak for what they may have been thinking at first. But I can say that they were supportive. Since we dated through half of high school and almost all college, our parents knew we would most likely end up together. I don't believe they thought it would be this soon...but they supported us. Now when I say 'support' I don't mean they said, "yes that's great" and nothing else. They asked many questions. They confronted us with obstacles we would face and made us think about our next steps. They gave advice and their opinions.
It's important for our generation to understand this: Just because someone who loves you is giving advice, opinions, or questioning something does not mean they don't believe in and support you. They do. That's why they bring those thoughts to your attention. To ensure you succeed.
"How did Clark pay for an engagement ring?
This is my absolute favorite to answer, because I get to praise him a little bit. Clark had never really had a job or saved money ever. He played baseball or football every season and time wasn't available. I loved working and having my own money though. So, when we found out how much rings cost I got super nervous. I kept thinking to myself- there is no way he's going to be able to save money or pay for that. And boy did he prove me so, so, so wrong. He found a way to make money selling lockers for quite a bit of money. He saved like a mad man. He wouldn't spend a dime of money he made doing odd jobs or working baseball camps. He came up with the money and bought me a gorgeous ring. He made it happen by working, saving, working, and saving.
"Why get married now if you know you're going to be together anyways?"
This is a question people asked my friends. I guess they assumed it would offend us. For Clark and I, there is a couple answers. A practical answer is Clark wanted me to travel with him for baseball season. I wasn't ready to commit without a guarantee that we were stuck together. Another answer is that we wanted to live life together finally. Also, we both agreed we didn't want to move in together until we married. Five years is a while and we were ready for the next step. The next answer is that exact reasoning for waiting. We knew we wanted to be together...so why wait?
You could come up with an excuse to wait forever to do what God has called you to. We knew the Lord had called us to a union with one another. Why wait for enough money, more stability, a good career, a big house. We believed that God would take care of us when we stepped out on faith. This waiting is different for everyone based on what God is calling you to- sometimes he calls us to wait for him. But if he has called you to something now, don't let the nature of society call you away from it. He will take care of you. Step out and trust him.
"You're only getting married young to have sex."
This one came from MANY adults. It actually made us laugh because it shows what people define marriage as these days. Sexual roommates. Yes, sex is great and should happen in the boundaries of marriage. But no! That's not the reason we got married.
If you're only getting married to have "guilt-free sex", I hate to break it to you but you will be severely disappointed. Marriage is more than physical. Sex is the glue that holds marriage together most of the time. But marriage is a union with you, your partner, and God. Marriage is tough, it's hard work, and it's exhausting. Sex will not be enough to sustain your marriage if that's all you have. Almost every wiser, happily or not happily married couple would agree with this too.
"You have the rest of your life to live. You're giving up so much!"
Yes, we have the rest of our lives to live. And now we get to live them together. What you "give up" by getting married young, you gain that and more. We still see our friends. We still make new friends alone and together. We still have fun Friday nights out. Life with Clark is eventful, exciting, and unexpected. I have more fun in marriage than I would ever have alone. If you think wow I gave up so much for this when you get married, I feel sorry for you, genuinely. That would suck!
Yes, it's not all butterflies and rainbows. We did have moments during our engagement that we wanted to run from marriage. But those thoughts left the moment we looked to the Lord. We've never let the devil tell us society is right and that we are giving up the world by getting married.
You will have people who are negative and who judge your decisions.
It's like that no matter what you do or where you go. That's life. Some people love breaking others down as a way to make them feel greater.
At first, I let it affect me. I was scared to let my professors find out, whom I had looked up to for so long. I was nervous they would think less of me and my career. I was nervous to let classmates see because they would call me crazy. And would hide it during interviews. But after a while I learned that I had to let those fears slide off my shoulders. I gained confidence in who I am called to be and what I am called to do in this life.
Being married young does not mean you are uneducated. It does not mean you have any less of an ability to have a successful career. And it does not mean you are incapable of chasing your own dreams. I am still the same driven, ambitious, hard working person. Marriage has only accented those qualities with encouragement and support.
You will fight. You will make up.
Being engaged involves pushing many different emotions into one season of life. For each person, it can look different. Whether you're experiencing an identity crises or can't agree on what you want for your wedding, you will fight. Clark and I had never fought more in our relationship than during our engagement. Expectations from family, friends, and each other were set for our wedding. We often let it get in the way of our relationship. We were the first wedding most of our friends attended and the first wedding in our immediate families.
We regularly reminded ourselves that at the end of this season, our goal is to get married. No matter who is there or how we get to that point. So, as long as we accomplished this, everything else would work itself out.
Our advice to someone who is about to get engaged/is engaged now is to seek what the Lord says, not what society says. Surround yourself with community who supports and loves you both.
Our advice to someone who is nowhere near engagement but around young couples who are engaged is to love people well. Shed God's word on them and pray consistently for their marriage.
In a serious relationship or engaged?
We encourage you to ask yourself these ten questions by Megan Miller found here!
If you have more questions about young engagement, or didn't get your question answered, feel free to shoot us a message or comment below. We would love to answer it for you and hear your experience!