When you tell someone you are getting married as a 21 year old who is still in college, a student-athlete, and only works a part-time job you don’t sound very established and admittedly, I wasn’t. Their first response is usually a criticism about how young you are to be getting married and those reasons can vary. I was typically met with the fact that I was too young to know what I wanted or we were moving too fast. On top of that, at the time we got engaged my husband had been away most of our relationship so that really didn’t help my case. It hurt to hear; especially since it was coming from people who should be happy for me. I will be honest, it started to get to me.
For a while I started to question myself but, take my advice: don’t. I know that is easy for me to say since hindsight is 20/20 but, the thing about marriage is, you know when the right time is. The idea that you should date someone for X amount of time before you get married or you shouldn’t get married until you have had more time to grow up is insane. In my case, my husband and I had very similar views on marriage. We were already committed to each other, we were both in it for the long haul, so for us it just made sense.
However, my friends didn’t think so. A lot of them were quick to tell me they thought it wasn’t a good idea or that I was being stupid. Obviously I knew it was not up to them but it was still hard to hear. If I could go back now and tell myself not to worry about what they were saying I would because getting married when we did was the best decisions we could have made. We would not have had half of the experiences we did if we waited. I know for a fact if we had waited until I graduated, like a lot of my friends and family thought we should, it would have only caused an unreasonable amount of stress on our relationship. No way was I preparing for graduation, preparing to move, and planning a wedding all at once.
As someone who never planned on getting married the reality that I was getting married was a shock even to me. I was so happy but I never thought that the months leading up to get married would cause as much stress as they did. The wait is scary. Anyone in a relationship with someone in the military, a police officer, firemen, or any profession where they risk their lives everyday will tell you the thought that your wedding day will never come eats at you. I remember laying in bed at night thinking; what if I don’t get to marry him, what if I will always be just his fiancee? I hated the thought of that. I know it seems silly to say but it is true. Even after setting a date for the wedding it seemed too far away. There were so many factors that could come into play before then due to the nature of his job.
My husband is a corpsman so there is always the chance that he would be deployed. We all know the D word isn’t exactly a crowd favorite, it’s a big deal, it’s a lot of stress, and let’s be honest, it’s scary. If he had deployed and we were not married if something happened to him I wouldn’t have gotten a phone call, his mom would have. I knew she would tell me but no one would have called me. I was already scared that I wouldn’t get to have my wedding so the thought of not knowing if something happened was a nightmare, I hated it. However, if we were married, I would get a phone call. I felt so much relief knowing that and I beat myself up over it. I thought I was being selfish because I was upset that his mom would get a call and I wouldn’t. I would beat myself up even more when I thought about how happy I was that I would be the one to get the phone call. I just kept repeating “I am the person he wants to spend the rest of my life with but she is his mom” over and over in my head. Some nights it even kept me up because I felt so guilty.
All of the stress and anxiety that came with not being married made me feel like I was crazy and no one around me understood. Between being worried we would never have our wedding and being scared something would happen and I wouldn’t know was plenty of reason for us to justify getting married when we did. It didn’t matter if the people around us thought it was the right decision or if it was normal to move so fast. Normal. That’s the word you have to remember when you are hearing all of the backlash from those around you when you say you are getting married.
When you tell your friends and family you are getting married to someone in the military they are comparing it to a civillin relationship; and a military relationship, is not a civilian relationship. In a military relationship nothing is “normal,” at least not in the sense that we are used to. Normal for a military relationship is crazy, chaos, fast, and intense. That’s what the people who are making you feel like an idiot for wanting to and agreeing to get married are not seeing.
I am not telling you that ignoring the negativity is easy but I am telling you that it is worth trying. I didn’t ignore it and I caused myself more stress than I ever needed to. If you are like me and don’t do such a hot job of tuning it out, it sucks, I know. There are days harder than others but what matters is if you are happy with your choice. Your life is with your significant other, not the people who are trying to make you feel bad about your decision. I wish I would have had someone who had been in my position there to tell me that.
So who cares if your last name used to be “Smith” and now it is “Williams.” You are with the person you love and you get to share your life with them.