This, that, the other, and early marriage

Updates below

For my birthday six weeks ago the fam all kicked in and bought me a new laptop.  This one is missing some keys, and one of the letters basically either does not work at all, or when I am not looking it just suddenly begins to go into overdrive and I get a string of that letter that won’t stop until I hit the backspace button.  It has other troubles too, but that’s the one I deal with on a daily basis.

The laptop arrived yesterday.  I realized that I have relied too heavily on my auto-fill function and I do not actually know most of my passwords and sometimes I don’t even know my username.  I thought i could fix this by signing in to everything on the old machine and then just changing all the passwords to something quick and easy to remember until I can sign in on the new machine and get the auto fill feature going there.  Only most sites want me to answer a question before I can change my password.  That question?  “What’s your current password?” (note- a friend clued me into retrieving my passwords via google chrome, so that’s taken care of. And my son set up my new laptop for me, complete with a memory verse reminder page for my homepage and an awesome screen snap from Big Bang’s Fantastic, Baby for my background image. That Boy knows his mama).

Still, yesterday was a great day.  The HM’s school took a field trip to an area farm/nursery, and he brought home some early Mother’s Day presents for me- four fruit trees.  Early Harvest Apple, Red Haven peach, Wolf River apple, and contender peach.  He’s already planted them, too.

The Moptop and Pip are moving along right well.  It seems he took his time, but once his mind was made up, it was made. up.  “Don’t you feel like you’re suddenly on a very fast train?” I asked Pip a couple days ago.  She said yes, it was kind of like that, and then she shared the date they were talking about.  “That’s not a train,” I said, “That’s the Concorde, and you’re breaking the sound barrier.”  She did remind me that while I have only known him just barely two years, Her Daddy’s known him longer and better, and she’s known him for almost five years- they met at a large singing a couple hours south of us where my husband and the kids have been regular participants. So they’ve been friends since high school, basically.

There’s another curious twist- years ago, when Pip was between the ages of 2 and 7, we lived in a tiny Nebraska town, population 299.  There were two other hsing families in town, one of them went to church with us, also had a large family, and our kids and theirs were very good friends.  Pip and one of their boys were the same age and they played house and farm together all the time.  That family moved away, and then so did we.  Two or three moves later (for both of us), we ended up in the same state, although about 5 hours apart.  However, The Moptop lived closer to them, and he’s been good friends with several of their children for a few years- which I only discovered when I friended him on FB and totally stalked his friends list like a good future M-i-L should.

He won big brownie points on Saturday when our son and three of his friends were listening to music while cleaning the kitchen, and The Moptop went into the kitchen and asked them to pause the music while he made certain which version of a particular song they were listening to- one version has some crude language.  He won even more brownie points when he thought it was doable for them to live in The Rattery, assuming we can get it finished in time for them, instead of in the same town where he and Pip go to college.  Strider thought it was too far for him- because he works late nights and he didn’t want to be driving half an hour or more on the highway at 3 a.m. which I do understand.  But The Rattery is only fifteen minutes away, while the college town is 45 minutes away, so I am hoping we can do The Rattery up for them.

The Moptop hadn’t really known much about The Rattery or that it was even an option (and there’s still no guarantee that it will be done in time), but he liked the sound of it when he heard I offered it.  “Does your mom really like me?” he said to Pip.  Well, of course,  I do.  Silly boy. We don’t agree to let just anybody take one of our treasures, after all.  But actually, “She likes you.  But she’s really not ready to lose me,” said Pip.

Leaving and cleaving and all that, I get it.  I support it.  But I’d do that more comfortably if the leaving bit is only 15 minutes away.

There was another clue, btw.   Back in March, the HG shared a link to this article on her FB wall.  And The Moptop commented, asking a serious and thoughtful question about it.  And the HG was given furiously to think, as was I.  Hmmmmmm, we thought.  And then we didn’t think of it again until last week.=)  Both The Moptop and our Pip  are still in college, you see.

From the article:

“Interestingly, in a 2009 report, sociologist Mark Regnerus found that much of the pressure to delay marriage comes from parents who encourage their children to finish their education before marrying… But such advice reflects an outdated reality, one in which a college degree was almost a guarantee of a good job that would be held for a lifetime. This is no longer the case. Furthermore, with so many students graduating from college with knee-buckling debt, they have worse than nothing to bring into a marriage. Indeed, prolonged singledom has become a rolling stone, gathering up debt and offspring that, we can be imagine, will manifest themselves in years to come in more broken, or never-realized, marriages…”

“It was not the days of ease that made our marriage stronger and happier: it was working through the difficult parts. We learned to luxuriate in the quotidian, to take wonder in the mundane, skills that have become even more valuable in our prosperous years. We invested the vigor of our youth not in things to bring into the marriage, but in each other and our marriage.”

Marriage actually works best as a formative institution, not an institution you enter once you think you’re fully formed. We learn marriage, just as we learn language, and to the teachable, some lessons just come easier earlier in life.

The Moptop and the HM both have two more years of college before they graduate, and The Moptop is not interested in waiting until he graduates to marry.  Pip will be done with her AA sometime next year, assuming she goes back in the fall, and I am not sure if she will or not.  So as their current plans stand, one or both of them will still be in college when they marry.

My husband and I were 20 when we got married, and I don’t regret that at all. Both of us have combined college with marriage at different stages of our lives.  Shasta is 31, a married father of 3 and he is combining college and a job with his role as husband and father and provider.   The Moptop and Pip will have just turned 21 and 23 if their current plans don’t change.  As I told Pip, there are some things that will be harder for them than they were for their married siblings, because their married siblings were 25 and 26 when they got married.  But there are other things that will be easier for The Moptop and Pip because they are younger than their married siblings and in-laws were.  It’s not like one set of challenges is worse than the other, it’s just that marriage always includes challenges one way or the other.

CNN had a less friendly article on marrying while still in college back in 2011.  I found this amusing:

…a small number of students are doing something really counter-cultural — they’re getting married before they graduate.

Marrying as an undergrad is like putting a “scarlet M on your forehead,” said Bradford Wilcox, director of The Marriage Project, which studies marriages in America at the University of Virginia.

“In the 19th century, to commit adultery or premarital sex was sort of a big deal, whereas in college circles today, getting married is kind of the ultimate rebellion,” he said.

Counter-cultural.  You know I love that.

It’s not that everybody should get married young, but we should definitely lose the assumption that it’s always second best.

Updates: The new laptop was returned, since it turned out the keyboard was wonky, often scrolling down for no good reason while I was in the midst of typing, and required more pressure on the keys than my hands could handle.

If things go as *currently* planned- and this may change- The Moptop and Pip will both be in college for one semester after they marry.  That’s when she finishes her AA and she hasn’t decided if she wants to do more than that or not. It’s not really a financial decision for her- she goes to college for free as the child of a disabled Vet and this is true whether she is married or not.  Sure, it’s a blessing, but not exactly an unmixed blessing- those of you feeling envious should think about the HM’s 20 years of service, the time away from his family, the emergencies I dealt with on my own while he was in Saudi, and his knees, back, and the metal plate and six screws in his arm which make him a disabled vet.  Just sayin’

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  1. abba12
    Posted May 8, 2013 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    Those little coincidences can be very amusing. We discovered while dating that my husband and I had attended the same homeschooling group for two years! (but, given our ages and genders, had little to do with each other). He even had a crush on my best friend. We fell out of contact, but when we began dating, my mother remembered his mother as the only woman there that she could stand! (my mum was a little anti-social).

    I married three weeks after I turned 18. Definitely some challenges, but also, some things are much easier than what we see marriages around us going through. My sister in law and her husband lived separate lives for a very long time, and struggle to become more than two different people who share a roof and bed, because their own identities are fully formed. I think it’s a lot easier for me to trust him as well, because I’ve watched him grow up alongside me (he was almost 21 when we married). But we’ve received an awful lot of judgment for that growing up process! Apparently getting married gives you all the knowledge a 40 year old has, and any mistakes that can be shrugged off for other people your age, things your sisters and brothers do, are 100 times worse when you do them because you’re married and not supposed to anymore! Your sister bought a $400 bird instead of food one week? She will grow out of it, she’s young and learning about money. You spent $60 on some second hand dresses on ebay instead of saving for the lawnmower you began needing last week? “You can’t be that irresponsible when you have children, grow up!”

    Sigh. Logic, right?

    Nevertheless, I am happy to have married young, it’s been a hard road but what marriage isn’t. But I feel a sort of connection I can’t imagine feeling if we married at 30. We’ve grown up together. I’m sure if we married at 30 it would be replaced by some other feeling though. Good luck Pip!

    • Headmistress, zookeeper
      Posted May 15, 2013 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

      My husband and I discovered when we were dating, that my family had met his grandmother before. My dad had tried out for a job as minister of their church in another town back when the HM and I were 15 years old. WE visited the church, and Dad was offered the job, but had to turn it down as it turned my asthmatic bro could not take the smog in the area. Had he taken the job, the HM and I would have lived on the same street (minister’s house was just few houses away from the HM’s) and gone to the same high school.

  2. Maggie
    Posted May 8, 2013 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    Coming across this article must be Providence. This morning my 18 YO son. By the way, the ring I gave C for her birthday is more than a Promise ring… I am bothered because I feel like he is a bit immature – he does n’t even have a part time job or support himself in anyway. I realize part of it is my own embarrassment that he is not paying his own way in any form. We bought a beater car for him to get to High School and we pay his car insurance and gas…. I guess I need to let go.

    • Headmistress, zookeeper
      Posted May 8, 2013 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

      Hmmm. I don’t think early marriage is a bad thing, but I do think it comes with responsibilities. All our kids pay for their own car insurance and their own gas, or they don’t drive. Relationships are tricky, and obviously your son’s already emotionally invested in a big way. I wouldn’t argue with him about it at this stage, but i would likely say, “That’s great. Sounds like you’re ready to step up into the adult world,” and then I’d withdraw myself from areas where I had made myself responsible before (like gas money) and leave that for him to take over.
      The Moptop didn’t ask us to provide them a place to live- he didn’t expect it at all (and he still might not get it- a lot depends on whether we can get the work on the house done). I made that offer because I wanted our daughter closer to us than she otherwise could be. It’s a bribe.=)

      • Maggie
        Posted May 8, 2013 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

        That has been my line of thinking. He will need to contribute to car insurance. He’s already been told he needs to work to come up with his own spending money. He was told he can live at home and eat the food here. We have committed to one year of College at the regional campus of a state college. After that we will re-evaluate. But he also must commit to leave at home that first year…

      • Mother Lydia
        Posted May 9, 2013 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

        My husband’s parents used him coming to them with the idea that he wanted to get married as just that — a way to tell him “In that case you need to start making changes” They gave him a deadline to be out of the house and living on his own (Or rather, they started charging rent and it increased every month rapidly to encourage him to get out of the house). They felt it VERY important he’d been paying his own bills, etc before he got married.

    • abba12
      Posted May 8, 2013 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

      When my husband and I married (18&21) we were financially independent. Of course, we didn’t have much, and we appreciated what we received as gifts, hand-me-downs etc, but if we were to become out own family, and make our own decisions and have the privileges of adulthood we knew we also had to take on the responsibilities. That meant my husband sometimes worked night shift, at one point he even had three jobs (I am unable to work due to disabilities and we made the decision I would stay at home even before children). It meant I learnt to live with less, knowing that in time we would have more.

      But, it paid off. We learnt a lot together, and 4 years on my husband has a great job, with perfect hours to fit our family, and because we never relied on others to provide for us, we are treated as adults in our decisions, there’s no blurred lines.

      On the other hand we know a couple who married last year at 18 & 17 who live in his parents house, neither one working. People don’t treat them as independent adults, and they don’t treat themselves that way either. They want to play house but they don’t want to grow up, they still want to be taken care of (they are both able to get jobs, in fact, the girl had a job but quit). Please don’t get me wrong, I love this couple, they are good friends, but they are not adults, they are trying to take the best of both worlds and their marriage and family relationships are suffering for it. And they are really losing out in both areas. For example, they can’t make their own decisions about children (right now, they won’t be the ones paying for a baby, so the ones who will be paying for it have said not unless you move out.). I remember when I walked into my home as a newlywed, and had the realization that for the first time, everything in it was mine, I could do whatever I wanted with it! I felt so grown up lol. But they don’t have that, because very little of what they have is owned by them. So much of their lives is controlled by the various people paying for it.

      Sure, it’s harder to take on responsibilities, but your marriage will be stronger for it. I don’t think they see themselves as having more than a permanent sleepover right now. They will grow up and learn, it is immaturity, they aren’t bad kids, but that’s just it, they’re still kids.

      So as someone that married young, I would recommend really strongly that you make your son independent, gradually. Tell him if he is to be a man then it is his job to provide, that he needs to find a way to bring in an income, and that it’s time the responsibility transitioned. He’s obviously decided how he feels about this girl and I don’t think putting it off or telling him he can’t marry her will help anything, but he needs to grow up quickly now, he can’t make adult decisions unless he also takes on adult responsibilities, and marriage is definitely an adult decision. If that means when they marry they don’t have a bed or a washing machine, so be it. My grandmother says that when she married the only furniture they had was a bed and a couple of tea chest boxes (obviously wooden at that time) as chairs with some cushions. He won’t die from sleeping on the floor and using the laundromat to begin with, but he will realize he can’t take such things for granted. If he has no money for car insurance then he best find a bus route! Alternatively, maybe he can mow your lawns in return for gas money.

      The bible says he must LEAVE his parents and be joined to his wife, not that he can keep his current dependence on his parents and just join his wife to it. Anyway, that’s just my opinion on it, but my parents had me paying board from 14 and my husband bought his own car when he got a license, so we might be biased!

  3. Posted May 8, 2013 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

    just throwing this out there… when MM and I married, he’d been 22 for precisely one week, and i was 20…and a half. ha. that was 15 years ago.

  4. Vi
    Posted May 9, 2013 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    What an exciting time for your family! I hope and pray that all goes well.

    Quick question from someone not in the courtship world. Is it usual for courtships to move so fast? I’ve read since before the HG and Equuschick got married and was trying to remember if things progressed so fast with them. I know of course, that families that follow the courtship model are all unique, but I was wondering if you thought that in general courtship moves along faster than dating for instance. Also, if this isn’t too nosy a question, and it might be, what made Moptop suddenly decide that now was the time to make his feelings known? I apologize if it’s too personal, but I was wondering why now in particular when he’s apparently come close before, based on your posts.



    • Headmistress, zookeeper
      Posted May 9, 2013 at 11:03 am | Permalink

      I don’t know what is usual, really. Just in our family, there have been four courtships (one didn’t work out) and each one has been different. Also, sometimes it might seem that something is connected to courtship because that’s so oddball that it really stands out , when it’s really just that couple’s unique personality (like attributing every quirk a kid has to homeschooling, as though there are no quirky kids in gov’t schools). My husband and I dated, and we dated exactly 3 months and got married . He proposed on our first date.=) The Moptop’s time frame is about 8 months, which isn’t all that fast, it just seems that way because from the outside, they just started courting. But I think maybe The Moptop sort of feels like he got his courting in during their years of friendship, and this period to him isn’t courting, it’s closer to actually being engaged? It is actually very similar in many ways to the Equuschick and Shasta, who were very good friends first, there was no official coursthip stage- Shasta called the HM one day and asked, “Can I be your son-in-law?”

      What changed his mind? I think, if I recall our discussion correctly, once when he was interested he drew back because he thought they really didn’t know each other as well as they should after all. He then took more time just getting to know her. They do know each other really, really well. My daughter asked me what were some things I thought they should talk about, and I gave her a long list (not necessarily ‘deal breaker’ items, or even things they *had* to discuss before marriage, just stuff)- and most of them they already talked about during the last two years, including all the things that really mattered. They were both at the same very small community college for a year. While at the college the two of them and a third student met with our minister for a weekly Bible study- he studies with any and all the college kids who are interested. He chooses a different topic or book of the Bible so that he only has to put together one study, and then throughout the week whenever interested students have the time they schedule studies with him.
      The Moptop and our girl were in the same college Sunday School class, and our church has some very meaty, quite unusual college age Sunday school classes and a number of issues had been discussed in class so they knew they were in agreement. Others ‘date,’ these two were in the same Bible studies 3 times a week for a while.=)

      I also think that article that I shared on why marriage in college isn’t always a bad idea nudged him just a bit- maybe he realized that now the only thing holding him back is our cultural assumption is that marriage in college is bad, and when he thought it through he disagreed that it is always a bad thing and thought it would actually be a good thing for them.

      He also talked with his father and our minister about it ahead of time. He had spring break away to think and pray about it. It’s not any one thing, more just a happy confluence of ideas, circumstances, and hearts.

      • Vi
        Posted May 9, 2013 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

        Thank you for your answer!

        I agree that you are right that since it’s outside the norm to do courting, that people are more likely to see something that’s really the unique personality of the couple as a general trend. (And as a homeschool grad I guess I should be used to people making those sorts of assumptions about me and here I am making one myself. Sheesh!)

        Thanks again for responding, and again best wishes to Pip, Moptop and the whole family.

        • Headmistress, zookeeper
          Posted May 9, 2013 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

          I think they were good questions, and honestly, I was a little freaking out over the quickness myself, and Pip had to remind me that she’s known Moptop as long as she’s known her brother-in-law Strider. I forgot that because *I* don’t go to the singings where she first met him as often as the rest of the family does. I also forgot that while I don’t know him as well as I knew the other beaus, my husband knows him really well. Moptop has asked him for advice several times over the last two or three years. Strider and the HG also know him better than I do, and they both like him a LOT. And even if they had just met in college- they’ve been at college two years now. This is me, talking myself out of having my hair on fire and my eyelashes going Sproing!

      • Vi
        Posted May 9, 2013 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

        And I meant to add that I guess I missed that they had known each other for awhile – somehow I’d gotten the impression that they had just met at college. Reading your comment and seeing that they had known each other for longer makes my “is courting usually so speedy?” question not really the same!

  5. HeatherHH
    Posted May 9, 2013 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    When my husband and I married, we were both in school. I was 17 (almost 18) and had one more year of college left. My husband was 20 (almost 21) and had recently begun a graduate program in engineering. We both had all of our expenses paid for, and my husband had a research assistantship paying about 20k a year. So we were financially independent, though greatly blessed by the help family gave us in establishing a household. A year into our marriage, I had graduated and our first child was born. We continued on that research assistantship stipend (without taking WIC or food stamps which we qualified for) while I stayed at home, and we were expecting our 2nd when my husband finished up his degree. We have now been married 12.5 years and have 7 children ages 11.5 years down to 11 months. Absolutely no regrets, and we are big proponents of marrying young, Lord willing.

  6. HeatherHH
    Posted May 9, 2013 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    And kind of to answer what Vi asked. For us, one of the biggest negatives about our whole dating experience (we believe in courtship now) was that we were a couple for 21 months before we were married. Definitely opened the line for more temptation, and we crossed some lines we didn’t mean to and shouldn’t have, even if we didn’t cross the ultimate one. We would in general consider a year as a couple to be a long time before marriage, as we believe that you don’t seek those sorts of relationships if you’re not ready to marry. We spent our time together primarily in talking, sharing beliefs, goals, etc, and got to know each other better in a few months than many dating couples do in a few years. We knew we were getting married within 9 months, but as I needed my parents to sign for me because of my age, we had to wait another year.

  7. kiki
    Posted October 8, 2013 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    ok but let’s face it, if the Church allowed sex before marriage, most of these “early marriages” wouldn’t take place

    • Headmistress, zookeeper
      Posted October 8, 2013 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

      I think early marriage can be very healthy. I think early sex outside of marriage is emotionally damaging and risky behavior on several levels (and we know that early sex with more than one partner increases the risk of various cancers, as well as STDs).

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