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“You Were How Old When You Married?”

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”.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Onlyme July 17, 2013, 12:59 pm

    Any age you marry carries a pro’s and cons, I think its an individual thing.

    But you’re comment “Thanks for letting me know, I’ll just head home now and file for divorce”?” just cracked me up.

  • Seiryuu July 17, 2013, 1:02 pm

    As much as that nurse was rude, I thought it was a little overboard switching practices just because of one very crude remark that an employee made. I hope the OP explained to the doctor as to the reason why the switch was made.

  • Calli Arcale July 17, 2013, 1:11 pm

    ferretrick — this nurse isn’t a new employee; OP says she’s been working there for 15 years. She’s only comparatively new. I can understand the switch; the normal arrangement in private practice is that your doctor has a nurse who acts as his/her assistant — rooming patients, interviewing them, checking their vitals, etc — and if you stay, you will be seeing that nurse again. In a large practice, you might have the option of changing doctors, but in a small practice, that’s less likely to be possible. There may only be one other doctor, and he/she may not be accepting new patients.

    OP, the nurse has a terrible bedside manner. Intrusive personal questions and condemnation like that definitely deserve a complaint.

    It really is amazing how free people can feel to interrogate and question the people around them. I do not understand it. 20 is young to be married, but y’know what? The only person in a position to judge that is *you*. It’s nobody else’s business. You’re an adult. You’re old enough to die for your country, you’re surely old enough to get married. People need to get a life, apparently, if they take such joy in belittling those who’ve done things they disagree with.

  • Amanda H. July 17, 2013, 1:23 pm

    I’m with PB, of the opinion that whether or not a marriage will last depends more on what both parties put into it rather than their ages when they tied the knot (or even when they first met). I’ve had my share of relatives and acquaintances who married later and ended up divorced, while some who met/married young or, Heaven forbid, married after knowing each other less than a year are still going strong.

    I married at 22, and am coming up on my 9th anniversary. Met my husband when we were both 18, fresh out of high school, but only knew each other/dated for about two years total since he went on a mission and we didn’t communicate much during that time.

    My mother married at 19 and is still married to my father 32 years later. Her mother married at 19 and is still married more than 50 years later.

    On a similar note, a friend of mine married a man she’d known for all of a week. They’re still happily married 14 years later. The parents of another friend married after knowing each other less than a year, and are still going strong more than 30 years later. Both couples also married young. None of the above relationships involved a pregnancy.

    While I thankfully didn’t hear too many comments about my age when I got married, I DID get to hear some of my mother’s friends comment on how short my husband’s and my engagement was: a total of four months. Just about every one who made those remarks thought we should live together first (against our religious beliefs) before tying the knot, or should at least be engaged longer to spend more time planning the wedding itself, which we didn’t need to do (wedding plans were very simple). My mother deflected most of those comments by pointing out that while we were only engaged four months, we’d known each other for at least two years prior to that, and even then, that wasn’t really their business. I can only imagine the sort of comments my younger sister is getting (she and her husband are coming up on the first anniversary of *meeting* each other).

  • Jennifer July 17, 2013, 1:34 pm

    I was married at 22 (my husband was 26) and we are still married eight years later. I think I understand where Admin is coming from, at that age people could be too immature still to understand the work that it would take to put into a marriage. I do think that we should not discourage young people from marrying, we should instead talk to them about the realities of marriage (the potential difficulties and hardships). Now I understand completely where the OP is coming from, I got engaged two weeks after meeting my husband and was engaged for eight weeks. And yes I meant weeks for both of those time spans and no I was not pregnant but I know that some people in my family assumed I was. We also moved overseas two weeks after we were married, for my husband’s job. We also went through unemployment a couple of months later. We have moved around the country for his job ( he is a computer engineer). We suffered through a few month long illness with me and an undiagnosed illness with my husband (both have since been successfully diagnosed and fixed). I don’t think that being young and married equals an inability to successfully stay married to one another. I think the inability to communicate openly and honestly with your spouse is what dooms a marriage, or any relationship really. And that inability can happen at any age and in any stage of a marriage. There are people who wait until they are in their thirties to get married and end up divorcing faster than you can blink.

  • Victoria July 17, 2013, 1:39 pm

    My husband and I met at 16, married at 18, first child at 20, second child at 23, we’re still together at 36, and people still make tasteless remarks when they find out we were 18 when we married. We’ve had 17 years of marriage, we’re both adults, and we’re still scolded like toddlers who have filched a cookie.

    My reply is usually a raised eyebrow and bean dip. If it’s someone whose opinion I care about, I may laugh it off and say “Well, we haven’t killed each other yet, so I guess it’s going well” and bean dip.

    Honestly, there have been times over the past 20 years when I thought it wouldn’t work out, but how can you spend 20 years with someone and not have a couple large fights? The difference is, we don’t look at divorce as an answer to problems. We both see divorce as giving up, and we’re both far too stubborn to allow that to happen. We may occasionally fight with each other, but we more often fight for each other, and that makes a difference.

  • Jojo July 17, 2013, 1:41 pm

    I had a similar experience with a Dr. Who was pushing the HIV vaccine on me. When I explained I was married and had never had a partner other than my husband, she said, “we’ll we know what the divorce rate is.” I was floored! And I immediately requested a new doctor from the front desk, and asked it be put in my chart that I NEVER see that one again!
    On a side note, forgive me admin if I am about to create my own breach of etiquette, but by stating your personal opinion in the first line of your response, did you not just engage in the very behavior that OP is saying she finds incredibly rude?

  • Jojo July 17, 2013, 1:42 pm

    Sorry autocorrect is horrid, I meant *hpv not hiv

  • Cat July 17, 2013, 1:52 pm

    As an aging spinster, I don’t have a dog in this fight, but the fact is that it’s your life. Once you are an adult, it’s no one else’s business what you do with it so long as you are not putting other people in peril or committing crimes.
    You can use humor-“Well, the convent didn’t want me and the ashram was full, so…” or “But Daddy got a herd of goats and a used VW bus for me!”
    You can be blunt-“I was an adult and it was my decision. I fail to see why you think it’s any business of yours.”
    You can be sarcastic “I am so sorry I did not think to ask you to decide what age I Should be before you gave me your permission to marry the man I love.”
    The best revenge is simply to be happy with the man you chose. “The dogs bark but the caravan pushes on.”

  • Lacy July 17, 2013, 2:02 pm

    I also married at 20 and had so many people tell me that I had made a mistake. It has been 22 years now and my husband and I are still together. However, I can’t even begin to imagine our daughter getting married now that she is 20. That age seemed a whole lot more mature when I was there than what I see in my daughter (and I do consider her very mature.) My husband and I both realize though that our marriage would not still be intact if it weren’t for a lot of hard work on both our parts and learning to communicate with each other. Still, I do count myself lucky that I am still with the love of my life.

  • Chocobo July 17, 2013, 2:24 pm

    “Thanks for letting me know, I’ll just head home now and file for divorce!”

    Actually, if this was said in a joking manner with a wry smile, I think it would be a pretty good response. Of course, a cold “Thank you for your concern” always works too.

    I got married at twenty-three and still got plenty of the marrying-too-young comments. Of course, once you hit thirty you’re too old and should have been married by now, so I’m not really sure what the right age is supposed to be for marriage.

  • knitwicca July 17, 2013, 2:24 pm

    I am another who married as a teen…exactly 5 days after my 18th birthday.
    That marriage lasted for 16 years and provided us with a wonderful daughter.

    I know a wonderful couple who married when she was 16 and he was 19. Nearly 37 years later he left hr a widow with no regrets for having spent a lifetime with the man she still loves.

    The right age to marry, to choose whether to have children, is of absolutely no business of a nurse in a family practice.

  • GardenGoblin July 17, 2013, 2:37 pm

    It’s about as acceptable to accuse someone of getting married too young as it is to accuse someone of being too old to still be unmarried.

    That is, to say, it isn’t acceptable at all. There are plenty of marriages at all ages that don’t work out; that isn’t an excuse to criticize.

  • Wild Irish Rose July 17, 2013, 2:39 pm

    It’s nobody’s business how old a person is when he or she marries (including yours, Admin). I’ve never had any opinion at all on people marrying young, unless it’s crazy young, like 13 (the daughter of one of my mother’s friends). But 18, 20, whatever–legal age–NOBODY’S business. My aunt and uncle were 20 when they got married in 1971, and they’re still going strong. Their son also has a very strong marriage, although I think he was a little older when he got married. I was 24 and my DH was 23 when we got married. Still married 27 years later. Age has nothing to do with it.

    I used to work with a woman who, at age 30, was on her fourth rocky marriage. Of course, to hear her tell it, all the failed marriages were her exes’ fault. She never seemed to see the common denominator, and at 30 she still had marital issues. So, again, age is irrelevant. By 30 you should have a clue, but some people just don’t.

  • Roslyn July 17, 2013, 2:48 pm

    There is no right or wrong age, people are so different in their level of maturity.

    He was 20, I was 23 and we had been dating only 6 months when we married. We eloped and pi$$ed off everyone on both sides, but it was our decision. That was exactly 23 years ago and we have two great kids and are going strong. Heck we actually like each other!!

  • Leigh July 17, 2013, 3:08 pm

    I would have complained to the nurse’s supervisor rather than change practices. She was so far out of line by insulting your parents’ obviously healthy, happy marriage on top of your own. I’m willing to bet her opinion may be colored by her own failure at relationships. I was married young, and it didn’t work out. I wouldn’t recommend to anyone making that commitment at the age I did, but I wouldn’t tell someone who had done the same that they made a mistake based off of my poor choices. Every relationship is unique.

  • VanessaGa81 July 17, 2013, 3:25 pm

    I didn’t have commentary like this about my marriage but it’s similar to when I had children. “When are you going to have kids?”-no allowing for the thought that I might not want or be able to do so. I had one and then came, “When are you going to have another one?” I had number 2 and then came, “Are you going to have any more?” Number 3 came along and it’s, “Are all those yours?”. People have no sense of boundaries or privacy.

  • Sans H July 17, 2013, 3:25 pm

    Even worse are the reaction to whirlwind marriages. In March 2003, the year the Iraq war began, my soldier and I went from dating/engaged/married in 62 days. (Would have been shorter, but Florida has a waiting period.) We got a ton of grief during that waiting period from everyone but our families, as everyone had the opinion we were making a mistake! For the record, we’ve been together 10 years, have 2 kids under 2 (yay for him being home to make them!), and have outlasted every marriage in our friends circle that has gotten married since us. Rushing things due to military dependant/survivor’s benefits caused us no hassles in our relationship. We are very happily married although I’m getting sick of moving constantly. I look forward to his retiring from the Army!

    We are also “horrible” people and had the BWW six months later, because we wanted to. There was no secret that this was technically a vow renewal; and nobody cared (probably because our friends are extremely etiquette challenged and agreed with our logic of having two anniversaries to increase the chance of spending one together each year.) In our eyes, legal marriage and weddings are two separate things. So, we had no drama of people snarking at us for being rude, unlike many of you here that haven’t been in this situation. The churches around the military base we were at had no problem renting out their facilities to soldiers in this position to hold the weddings they couldn’t have before deploying. It was actually a marvelous experience, having legally tied the knot months before, so no worries or nervousness about making commitments. More people should do it.

  • Marozia July 17, 2013, 3:39 pm

    The practice manager would’ve heard from me about this nurse!! Why can’t people mind their own business?
    OP, do you tell people that you married young? Because if you do, maybe you shouldn’t. A lot of people have opinions about marrying young, i.e., they agree/don’t agree.
    BTW, my mother has married 6 times with 5 children. She married a 13, 1st child at 14 – last child at 30 (me) and has been widowed twice before the age of 20. Doesn’t seem odd to me.

  • CherylC July 17, 2013, 3:45 pm

    As a doctor, I would certainly like to know why a patient whose family had been with the practice for so long had suddenly left, and I absolutely would like to know that an employee (nurse, front desk, whomever) had managed to be rude twice in one conversation to a patient. If she really was a nurse practitioner, and not just the nurse for the practice (there is a difference), I would really really want to know since the patient may not see me at all during that visit since NPs are allowed to treat and prescribe for a fair number of conditions, including birth control.

  • White Lotus July 17, 2013, 3:51 pm

    It is ridiculous to ever tell someone what s/he should have done in the past. Past is past and can’t be changed . These kind of comments are incredibly idiotic as well as rude.

    “I’m so glad you told me. Quick! Where’s the Time Machine so I can go back and change it?”

    But, like OP, I’d probably be too gobsmacked to do anything but reel in shock and change doctors. I would tell them why, though. When I was young, a very few couples married right out of high school. Some married during college, most upon graduation, or were at least engaged at that point, at least in my circles. I didn’t meet my husband until we were both in grad school and we married on completing our doctorates. I was an “old maid,” and some people expressed surprise that I did marry — they thought I was never going to! When it is right is when it is right and it is no one else’s business to assume or judge.

  • Jenn50 July 17, 2013, 4:30 pm

    Add me to the chorus of married-youngs. We will celebrate our 17th anniversary next month and have 3 kids. Families with an autistic child in them (like ours) suffer a 8/10 divorce rate, but neither of us has ever uttered the word. I think, for us, it’s a matter of “Make the right decision, or make the decision right.” While we were both young, and have changed and been challenged extensively, there were no deal-breakers for us, (abuse, infidelity, drug use). Everything else was negotiable. We made forever vows, and we meant it. We were both committed to making it work, and both went into it with the attitude that we wouldn’t be the perpetrator of a deal-breaker. We talked about those points extensively before marriage was proposed and made darned sure we agreed on the broad strokes. After that, divorce just wasn’t an option for us. The fact that I was 21 by itself, might make us statistically more likely to divorce, but the prep-work and attitudes we went into it with are a much better predictor of our success. I know some people wind up in marriages that they just cannot stay in, and I don’t judge that, but I think if the attitude of both parties is right, youth needn’t predict failure.

  • Janet Marie July 17, 2013, 4:32 pm

    My parents married about a year of dating – they are married 40+ years. My mother’s friend met her husband in Greece (she is Greek also) and married him within a few weeks of meeting – they are married nearly 30 years. Every couple is different. I do not judge people like my sister who has had 2 divorces, or my cousin who was divorced 1 time then separated legally from her husband but did not file for divorce but she remarried to hubby #2 this year or another cousin who lived with her now hubby for 5 years or so then had a baby, and got married when the baby was about 1.5 years old then had kid #2 after they were married – they are married for 5 years at this point.
    I would make a complaint to the manager and boss of the nurse. I bet she would change her tune if told to cut out the complaints and comments.

  • nena July 17, 2013, 5:21 pm

    Boy can I relate to this story. I was married at 18. Had my first child at 20. I’m successful now in my late forties, but I sure do wish I had a dollar for every shocked look and rude comment or question. I’d be rich!

  • Anna July 17, 2013, 5:41 pm

    I have a similar problem but mine is people telling me I should have another child. My husband and I were also married young (21 and 23) and also had our daughter young (2 years after we wed). I was still in the hospital after delivering her when people were asking me when I was going to have another one! Since she came along, my husband and I made a decision that we wanted to only have one child. This decision was not made lightly by any means. It was discussed, thought about, and prayed about for multiple years. But since we are young, we hear comments constantly like “When are you going to have another?” or ” You should/need to have another one” and “Your daughter needs a brother or sister.” I understand people don’t agree with us and that is fine. It was still our decision and nobody else’s business why we made that decision. What I hate is that many of these people are just acquaintances. They are making these comments without even thinking if we are even medically able to have more children. And for someone that wants kids but can’t, the comments could be very hurtful. People really should think before they speak and keep opinions to themselves. As my mother says, “When I want your light, I’ll pull your string. Until then, keep your tail in the dark.”

  • Caroline July 17, 2013, 5:47 pm

    There is no right age to get married.
    In my country, girls of certain social class are supposed to get engaded at 22/23 and married at 24/25.
    If you are single at 26 you are considered a spinster, FOR REAL.

    That said, I find incredibly rude of the admin to state her opinion on the first line. She did the same thing that the nurse did, albeit, a Little bit more diplomatic.

    OP- I wish you a life of happines. The best way of showing people that Young marriages work is being happy ;).

  • Anna July 17, 2013, 5:55 pm

    I got married at 22, fresh out of college. People kept telling me that I HAD TO live by myself first, that I HAD TO work for a year before getting engaged, that I HAD TO be engaged for one year before the wedding. All because those were the society “norms” and it would be incorrect not to follow them.

    Well I got married, engagement lasted for 5 months, and 13 years later here I am. We sure had our problems at the beggining, but all of my friends who got married at 26-27 got the same ones when they first move in with their husbands.

    Age is just a number.

    Admin, I respect your opinion, but I do not think it was necessary to express it. OP asked for advice about how to handle the situation, and you gave her your unsolicited opinion.

  • schnickelfritz July 17, 2013, 7:02 pm

    This post demonstrates how upside down society has become. The most successful families and marriages I know of, are couples that married early to mid 20s. The couples waiting until 35ish, to start a famliy, because they waited for the big house, cars, vacations, degrees, $ for child care, etc. Pay tens of thousands of dollars for fertility treatments, because they waited too long. My grandparents, parents, siblings, cousins, aunties and yes, my friends, that found their love, did not shack up with 2-3 partners before marriage (statistically, the highest divorce rates). They had starter homes, mom stayed home with the tots, or worked part-time, and by early to mid 30s, Mom’s got their degrees, and entered the workforce, full-time, didn’t have to pay (much) child care, and are well onto savings for retirement. Financially, they are way ahead of the ones that waited to have it “all” – and then divorced, as they knew their was another partner out their, that could fill their needs; heck, they have had many partners by now, surely the grass is greener… The younger Moms, have kids in full-time school, with colleagues their age, trying to get pregnant – they missed the biological clock. Unless there is obvious abuse, the smarter couples, that recognize they are in love, and are committed to make a go of it, really can and do last. And, they are healthy and fertile. That is the simple biology of our reproductive system. Woman are made to have babies late teens – early 20s. That is a fact, and why a 19 year old can get pregnant immediately, and a 35 year old pays big bucks, hoping to conceive.

  • whatever July 17, 2013, 8:58 pm

    The people who are insisting that “age has nothing to do with it” are, statistically speaking, wrong. Young marriages have a much lower rate overall of success. Of course, there are always outliers- “lower rate” is not a zero rate, and I congratulate the people in this thread who have married young and made it. (For the record, I was 26, and many people thought I was “too young.”) But early marriage is not something I would advise personally or would support societally.

    That said, after the marriage is made, there’s nothing more to be said!

  • Barbarian July 17, 2013, 10:00 pm

    I support Op’s decision to switch doctors. She will eventually want children and will need a medical practice to be supportive of her instead of putting her down. If the nurse has a bad attitude becasue she’s married, OP probably dreads a barrage of similar remarks if she decides to have a child. If you have a bad feeling about a healthcare professional, you should change providers.

  • hakayama July 17, 2013, 10:41 pm

    @schnickelfritz: could you share your source of ironclad and unqualified statistics on the female fertility?

  • Miss-E July 17, 2013, 11:36 pm

    @schnickelfritz – you’re saying a lot of things there but despite all the many responses I’ve got in my head I’m just going to pose this question to you: what about people who don’t meet their “person” until somewhat later in life?

  • lakey July 18, 2013, 12:22 am

    I know how you feel when someone says something that is so rude that you don’t say anything because you are so taken aback. There is thoughtlessness and then there are people who are seriously crossing the line. For people who are seriously crossing the line there is a phrase I have used, “It’s not your place to ……”
    For instance, “It’s not your place to make judgements about my marriage.”

    And I’m not a big fan of getting married young, but I know a lot of people who’ve done it successfully, including my sister who married at 19 and has been married thirty something years. Best to you, OP.

  • AS July 18, 2013, 1:00 am

    @ schnickelfritz: you just did exactly the same thing that OP is talking about – just that you attacked the people who got married late in life. Lot of what you said don’t even make any sense. Were you trying to say that older women run out of their Biological clock and hence divorce?

    Your entire premise seems to be around reproducing and nothing else. And that too your claims are debatable. It is true that women’s biological clock starts slowing down the older they get. But you sound as if every woman above 35 years of age cannot have a natural birth without fertility treatment, which is quite far from the truth. In fact, there are also some young women who have to have fertility treatments, because of some unfortunate condition.

    I am one of those people who married past 30 years of age (my husband is younger than me). But I am glad I waited, because I found a man who is beyond my most beautiful dream. I have dated other people, but not in the seemingly dirty sense you conveyed when you said that ” they have had many partners by now”. I was perfectly happy not to date anyone for a few years too. I was not desperate find a man just to have a man in my life and reproduce. I was willing to be single all my life rather than ending up with the wrong person. I met my husband out of the blue, and we clicked! Lucky are the people who find the love of their lives at a young age. But I wasn’t one of those lucky ones, and that doesn’t mean that I plan to divorce my husband anytime soon!
    I also know a lot of my friends who are happy being single. Don’t judge people.

  • Sakuko July 18, 2013, 2:08 am

    I’m glad in Germany the practice of asking personal information of people you barely know socially as a form of chit-chat is relatively uncommon, and commenting badly on it is even rarer.

    For every person who is against marrying young you’ll probably also find a person who is against marring older, marrying your first boyfriend, or having a lot of boyfriends before marriage.
    You can’t win. Everybody will have anecdotal evidence that one or the other type of relationship won’t work out and if they’d all decide to “help you out” with that information you wouldn’t be able to do anything uncommented.

  • Ergala July 18, 2013, 6:43 am

    @schnickelfritz I think my OB/GYN would beg to differ. As a teenager our bodies are not yet ready to physically deal with the stressors of pregnancy. Yes we are able to conceive but a lot of girls at the age of 11 are able to as well. Does that mean their bodies are prepared for the rigors that come with pregnancy and motherhood? Doubtful. I had my first child at almost 24. My doctor then said he still considered my age to be a little on the young side and said he’d rather see women having children at around 27 or 28. I had my youngest when I was 28. I have to say oh boy was he right. Maybe it was because I was prepared or because my new OB was absolutely amazing, but my body did a lot better and I was emotionally prepared for the changes about to happen. I knew stuff was going to change with my oldest, but emotionally I was not there yet. I thought I was but I see now I wasn’t.

  • The Elf July 18, 2013, 7:19 am

    Lacey, I hear ya about the no-kids thing. We’re also childfree, and when we turned 30 we started looking into permanent birth control. I couldn’t believe the number of people who declared (without doubt!) that I would change my mind? Huh? I was THIRTY. That’s well past the “too young to make life-long decisions” part. We’d been married for 9 years, we were financially stable…. If we wanted kids, we would have had them by then! It took a few years to find the right doctor, the right method, and the right insurance but we succeeded.

    Well, jokes on them. We did get that permanent birth control, I’m now looking hard at 40, and as the years go by I’m only more convinced I made the right choice.

    The problem is that there are some people who feel they can weigh in on every decision you make, whether it’s getting married and (not) having kids or the kind of ice cream in your grocery cart. They’re just rude busy-bodies. Doctors, because an essential part of their job IS getting into your personal business, are a little more prone to this, IMHO.

  • Wild Irish Rose July 18, 2013, 1:06 pm

    @schnickelfritz: Now that I’ve picked my jaw up off the floor, I can address your post.

    There are a lot of unsubstantiated generalizations in what you say, and you make it sound like anyone under 19 and over 23 shouldn’t even contemplate having children.

    I married at 24 and had my first child at 30. I had absolutely zero trouble conceiving. Same with the second child, who was born when I was 32. I have a good friend who desperately wanted children before she was 30 and it did not happen until she was in her 30s. Her children are the same ages as mine are, and she is my age. I also know a couple of women who were in their 40s and had children with no help from fertility treatments.

    Also, your blanket statement about people waiting to marry so they could have fancy cars, big houses, etc. is very offensive. Some people wait because they want to be absolutely certain they’ve made the right choice. And very often, those same people have babies with no trouble at all. Where do you get your “information,” anyway?

  • Gee July 18, 2013, 4:53 pm

    Even if you think someone is foolish to marry young, and even if you could prove you are totally right…it is already done! What good can it do to say anything about it? It’s only rude and hurtful.

    I got married young (I was 20, he was 25). We’ll be celebrating our 12th wedding anniversary in January. We’re very happy together, and we look forward to many more.

  • schnickelfritz July 18, 2013, 4:55 pm

    Google “fertility age and women”
    Every site, pages and pages of sites, indicates that by 35, fertility drops substantially – huge.
    If you don’t start TRYING to conceive by 28 (your fertility rate is already in decline, as indicated on all of the websites) it may take over 3 years to conceive. With an older egg. Just google it. There are so many charts and graphs, indicating rate of fertility and aging, you could spend all night studying them.
    I attacked no one getting married late in life. You marry when you find the right person. I was pointing out the advantage of marrying, and starting a family, at the healthiest time for childbearing. I was supporting the young couples, that find their partners earlier in life. Most couples want to wait a couple of years after they marry, to settle in before starting a family. I totally support a healthy young marital relationship. I am not one to ever question any couple, on their choice to have children or not, or ask “when are you…”
    What I wrote, is documented all over the internet, medical pages, etc. How can any grown woman not know, that woman in their 20s are at their best childbearing age? Ergala, age 24 is a perfect age, in a healthy woman and relationship, to become a first-time mother. Waiting to age 28 – if you are absolutely guaranteed to conceive; how would you know, until you try? My goodness, how did our ancestors do it, when life expectancy in 1850 was 40 for females. If 24 is not mature enough today, we are indeed going infantile / backward.
    I see it every day, in my employment – woman in their mid-30s, trying for their FIRST baby, have a harder time conceiving. Those that do not, are very, very fortunate. I noticed this trend about 15 years ago. These couples, sometimes married for several years, end up spending big money on fertility treatment, and so stressed. Many of them conceive – but it takes a few years of treatment, delivering closer to age 40. It is a fact.
    Wild Irish Rose, pick up your jaw. I did not say people “waited to get married until they had it all” – I said they waited to START a family. (If you look up the fertility charts available, your jaw WILL drop!) I wish anyone planning a family the best of luck, no matter the age or marital status.
    The truth is, when a mom has her first baby younger, she is more reproductive into her thirties and later. The timing of the first one does impact later. Don’t blame the messenger – look it up!

  • schnickelfritz July 18, 2013, 8:34 pm


    Obviously, you are not the type of person that takes marriage lightly, and I applaud you. I am not judging anyone regarding what age they marry. And, yes, my premise was pointing out, the benefit of marrying younger, if you find your mate, and want to have a family. You shouldn’t have to wait until “society”, or the nurse, or your neighbor, thinks you are ready. That was my point. Search fertility. You will be very surprised at the stats. I don’t like when people judge the younger couples, as well as anyone being single, or waiting, or choosing not to have children. It is no one’s business. My entire premise was based, on the merits of starting a family in your twenties. Period. The data is out there. I was supporting the young couples.

    And, I do totally like the comment “Thank you! I need to run home, and file for divorce!”

  • Michelle C Young July 19, 2013, 4:55 am

    I’ve known some people with long-term marriages (going for 50 years! woot!) who said that they were, in fact, childhood sweethearts. One memorable couple had been in love since they were six years old, and never even dated anyone else.

    Sometimes, you just KNOW. That’s the thing, though. People are individuals. While it may be a good GENERAL rule to wait for marriage until at least 25, there will always be exceptions for the people who simply KNOW that they are meant to be together, and might as well start being together now, as later. After all, if they’re both attending the same college, it is cheaper to get one apartment, and the benefits of married living, insurance coverage, etc., than to be two singles living separately, because they are not married.

    And that individuality is precisely why it is nobody else’s business to judge them for marrying “young.”

    OP, I’m sorry you have to suffer that.

  • Kirsten July 19, 2013, 8:11 am

    Sorry Allie, but feeling smug because someone’s marriage broke up isn’t petty – it’s really mean and unkind. It is never pleasant divorcing, having your marriage fail and the shame many people feel when that happens. It’s like you think they deserved it because they made a big deal out of their nuptials, or that you’re better because you had a quick, cheap wedding that lasted.

    I have been with my husband 14 years, since he was 19. We’ve worked hard but we have been LUCKY. Lucky we could work out problems, lucky that as we changed we could stay together, lucky that nothing traumatic happened to force us apart.

    My parents’ marriage broke up after 30 years due to my father suffering a personality-changing injury – 90% of marriages end in these cases, just as a large proportion of marriages end if a child, God forbid, dies. I am grateful we’re still together; I could never be pleased another couple’s hopes and dreams have fallen apart. There but for the grace of God.

  • whatever July 19, 2013, 2:29 pm

    schnickelfritz: A lot of the statistics about the difficulty of conceiving after 30 or 35 come either from very old historical data, when people had poorer nutrition and health, or from fertility clinics, whose clients by definition have fertility problems. Also, some proportion of people who have trouble at 35 don’t have problems because of their age- they had fertility problems all along, and they were only discovered at 35 because that’s when the couple began to try! They would have had problems at 24 or 28 as well. More careful studies show that the majority of couples who try to have a baby at 35 conceive and have children with no issue, although it might take a little longer because the rates of miscarriage rise slightly. You never hear about them because they don’t have any complaints.

    If you think about all the families in the past who had 10+ children, many of those children had to have been born when the mother was over thirty. And remember, those women did not have the benefit of modern nutrition and knowledge of micronutrients.

    My maternal grandmother had my mother at 38, in the middle of the Chinese civil war, when the Communists were taking over their city and my grandparents had to flee to Taiwan. These are far from ideal conditions for conception or pregnancy, but it still happened. My mother had me at 34 and my brother at 36. I’m 29 now, and my mother is telling me I’m getting too old and I should have children right away…

  • Vicki July 19, 2013, 7:46 pm

    “Google it” is all very well, but what you actually are getting is page after page that’s getting the “statistics” from the same place. And that same place is one study from France, from decades ago. Even one study from last year wouldn’t prove a lot, because it’s only one—but this is one study from a time with significantly different conditions and medical care.

    Also, the ages of women who turn up at fertility clinics don’t prove much about fertility generally: those clinics won’t know about the women who have no trouble conceiving at 30, 35, or 40. A 35-year-old woman who has been trying to conceive for a year is more likely to feel that she can’t afford to take her time and let nature take its course than a 25-year-old in the same situation, in part because she is surrounded by articles and people saying “do it now or else!”

  • Jamie July 20, 2013, 9:32 am

    My husband and I will be celebrating 30 yrs of marriage this fall. We were 20 and 21 respectively when we married. We weren’t pregnant, nobody pushed us to this and we only dated 5 months. We just knew. I just smile when people comment on us and say we just know how to work it for us.

  • hanna July 20, 2013, 12:12 pm

    Admonishing anyone for marrying ‘too young’ is asinine. It all depends on the individual couple. Some 30 somethings are nowhere near ready for marriage while a 19 year old girl very well could be. To blanket everybody is illogical.

  • Ana July 21, 2013, 6:48 pm

    You know what? I am 27, and I am being constantly bombarded with comments and questions about why I am NOT married. It’s like people see singleness as a disease that I desperately need to be treated for (“QUICK! Let’s set you up with the only single guy I know- he is unemployed, showers every other week, and is struggling with serious mental health issues, but, hey, you’ll have a husband!”). Why is 20 too young to be married and 27 too old to be single? Seriously, some people need to stop worrying about “fixing” others and start fixing themselves!

  • Coffeetailor July 22, 2013, 3:54 am

    I’ve seen people who (in my private opinion) got married young and shouldn’t have, and then I’ve seen others who married at the same age who are the most in-love couples ever years and kids later, so it really depends on the couple. I’m already getting the ‘you’re single? Let me tell you about X’ chat at twenty-four, and I bet if I were married I’d be getting side-glances. People just like to put in their two-cents about how you’re wrong no matter what.

  • twik July 22, 2013, 10:38 am

    This falls into that category I tend to rant about, “making uninvited personal comments”.

    The nurse had no business lecturing the OP about her age when married. It was not her business, and in fact was terribly unprofessional. And really – who thinks saying to anyone “Well, that was stupid!” is acceptable? Even if the OP had said she’d run away at 18 to marry 95 year old Bozo the Clown and travel with the circus, it was Nurse’s business to attend to medical things, not give relationship advice.