When I was 15 years old, I was standing at the espresso machine at a coffee shop I worked at. A boy came up behind me, put his hands on my hips and slightly scooted me forward to squeeze past. I could have had that same encounter 40 different times with 40 different people, but I still remember the way I felt in that exact moment. I never understood why I kept crossing paths with that boy. Why I would feel light-headed every time I'd see him walk through the restaurant door. Why -- despite our wildly different personalities and lives, despite the fact he always had his guard up, despite logic and judgement and other boyfriends -- he made my heart race. After five years of on-and-off contact, drunken phone calls and late-night visits, I remember saying to my friend, "Why do I feel so drawn to him?" It wasn't his personality, because he never opened up to me. It wasn't loneliness, because I was always jumping from one relationship to the next.
It was because he was my husband.
That moment in the coffee shop, I was still a child. All of my coming-of-age experiences -- going to high school, having my heart broken, going away to college, dating the wrong boys, working my way through school, living on my own -- they all happened with him weaving in and out of the background. And then when we were a little older, more experienced, more mature, it just clicked. And we knew.
It's as if we grew up together, but also grew up because of each other.
Yet the reigning assumption is that young relationships simply don't work. Someone even told me that it should be "illegal for people to get married before the age of 30." And I'm not so much talking about marriage -- love is love, regardless of a signed document -- but people assume that young couples are doomed to grow apart, resent one another, divorce. They don't believe that I've experienced enough of the wrong men to appreciate the good. I couldn't possibly know what real love is before a certain age -- because, obviously, your age correlates to your emotional depth. That's why you see so many 35 year olds making brilliant life choices.
My opinion? It's exactly these negative messages that make young couples feel doubtful and doomed -- especially those with children. A young marriage AND kids? Oh honey, just file for child support and save yourself the trouble. But is anyone capable of judging another's capacity for commitment? Fidelity? Love? Regardless, those warnings are always in the back of our minds. And when a relationship gets a little rocky -- which they all do -- those warnings might be convincing enough to throw in the towel. We never had a shot to begin with, who are we kidding?
But as the father of my child, this will always be worth fighting for: