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Does Marrying Young Doom Your Relationship?
My college-sweetheart-husband and I didn't realize we'd married young until a year after our wedding, when we moved to New York. My new coworkers would go pale and say things like, "WHAT! You're MARRIED? Were you a CHILD BRIDE?" My husband and I laughed this phenomena off as just another weird New York City thing, like apartments with showers in the kitchens, or egg and cheese on a roll.
But as O magazine associate editor Katie Arnold-Ratliff writes in her thoughtful piece in Slate, statistics show that marrying young leads to increased odds of divorce. Arnold-Ratliff and her husband met when they were 15; their relationship sounds incredibly sweet, open, quirky, and supportive. And yet, they'd only been married a year when they separated. What went wrong?
Katie isn't sure. But as someone who also married at 24 (and is still married at the ripe old age of much older than 24), I wonder if what made Katie's first year of marriage difficult isn't--wait for it--what makes any first year of marriage difficult. As Joan Konner wrote in O a while back, "In America we live in a culture that glorifies passionate, romantic love." But that passion that ignites a relationship's beginning is fleeting. "Research conducted by social scientists suggests that 'romance' lasts 18 months to three years," writes Konner, while true, lasting (what she calls "enlightened" ) love "is transcending the ego to connect with another...We live for this kind of love. We work for this kind of love." There's the word I was looking for. Work.
Growing a passionate affair into a lasting love that can survive growth, career changes, your husband watching you give birth, all of it — this takes work. Katie Arnold-Ratliff knows this, now. She and her husband got back together (yay!) and as she writes, "I remember everything that hasn't happened yet—that we have this future together that's going to be hard and beautiful and worth fighting for."
This part —the part that's hard, that demands fighting for—takes many couples by surprise, no matter what their age. It's nice to know there are some young couples out there making it work.
More on Marriage:
It's never too late to find love.
Make romance last.
A marriage of opposites.
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