My husband died 19 months ago, which turned my whole world upside down, to say the least.
We were together since I was 19 and married since I was 20. He was 21 when we got married. Now that I have kids older than we were when we got married, a lot of times I look back and wonder how we ever could have thought we were mature enough to marry. Or how our parents thought we were, either. But they themselves got married younger than average, so it was probably normal to them.
I’m not encouraging my kids to marry yet. They still need more time to grow up — and they’re far more mature than average kids their age. They’re more mature than my husband or I was at their ages, by a long shot. But they still want to work on establishing themselves as individuals before combining their lives with someone else, and I can’t blame them for that. In many ways, I wish I had done the same.
Does this mean I regret my early marriage?
Short answer: no. I’ve already written about how I would do it all over again if I could. The lessons I learned over those 29 years together had an indelible, permanent mark on my thinking and worldview for the better.
But there’s no question that he and I both would have been much better off if we had waited a few years. However, the question remains about whether or not we would have stayed together if we’d waited, and I honestly don’t know. We were in a place where neither of us had other options for what to do with our lives, so why not get married?
Our whole thinking on that was that we could go to college based on our own incomes rather than our parents’, which really would have helped him but he had heard so much about how bad debt was that he wouldn’t take out loans when he didn’t have enough cash to pay for it himself (which he ended up doing years later for a different major altogether and never became a teacher like he wanted to be.)
This is in many ways a very complicated question. Maybe I could have found a mother-in-law who loved me and didn’t abandon me after his death but wanted to share my memories of him instead. That would have been a major source of comfort that I didn’t have, but she didn’t actually have many recent memories of him or knowledge of what a great man he really…