“You Were How Old When You Married?”

by admin on July 17, 2013

I got married when I was 20. A week after my 20th birthday, in fact. I realize this is young by current standards, at least in my part of the country, but I never considered it young enough to be shocking. However, many people seem to disagree with me, because I used to get rude and intrusive comments all the time. It’s slowed down (since I’m 26 now), although occasionally people will still ask me how long I’ve been married, do the math, and say something like “you’re still married?!”. At least the comments about how I must have been pregnant have stopped since everyone has, by now, noticed the absence of children. (Well, except for the people who assume I was pregnant and miscarried, and who express surprise that my husband and I stayed together since the child we must have gotten married for didn’t happen. Yes, really).

My “favorite” incident happened at the doctor’s office.

The nurse practitioner was asking me all the usual questions one is asked when one wants to change birth control, so of course it came up that I was married. I was 21 at the time so this was my first appointment since tying the knot. The nurse said, “Well, that was stupid! You’re way too young to be married. You shouldn’t have done that”.   Now, here I should probably pause to mention that this is the gynecological and obstetrical practice that my family has used for years, and my mother is a patient and has been since before she got pregnant with me. One of the doctors at this practice delivered me. This nurse hasn’t been working there that long, but she’s been there at least 15 years. It’s not a huge practice and it’s always seemed like all the patients are on a first name basis with most of the nurses. I know my mom is. My mother and father are still happily married and had been married for about 40 years at this point, something that would definitely be known to the practice and part of her history. I say this so you’ll understand why I suddenly heard myself saying, “Well, you know my mom got married when she was 19…”

Clearly a mistake, but what can I say. I wasn’t thinking. The nurse says, “Well, then she should have told you not to do it”. WOW! So, my marriage is a mistake, and so is my parents’ apparently. I just said nothing, because I couldn’t think of anything to say. I switched practices after that appointment. I’ve never understood why people feel the need (or the right) to weigh in on others’ incredibly personal decisions, or what they expect me to do with that knowledge. “Thanks for letting me know, I’ll just head home now and file for divorce”? I know that we should forgive people for their thoughtlessness, but she didn’t just say one thing without thinking. She went in for seconds. And if you’re ever tempted to share your opinion on something as personal as that, you should remember that however harmless or correct you think your opinion is you’re probably the 764th person to express it.    0716-13

Generally speaking, I don’t encourage marrying young either.   I’ve been around too long and seen more unsuccessful marriages than successful ones when the couple marries young.  That said, there are some topics of conversation that are not within a person’s sphere of responsibility to express a negative opinion or hold someone else accountable for their actions.   If you are not in a position to have a substantial relationship that allows for that level of honesty and accountability or you were not asked for an opinion, it falls under “mind your own business”.

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