No Right Age to Start a Family

I was 20 years old when my wife and I got married, and it all happened very quickly. We met in college, and it only took us 3 months after we started dating to figure out that we wanted to spend our lives together. We were married in less than a year.

When we became engaged, it left some of our family and friends wondering if our marriage was one of “necessity.”  Three and a half years passed before that “necessity” came along and 5 more years before the second one arrived. It hurt to know those closest to me mistook our judgement. I guess that is just what you have to deal with when you get married as a dumb kid, right?

Wedding Ceremony

Looking back 10 years later, I think about the consequences of being young and starting a family early, and I wouldn’t change a thing. Our parents thought 20 was too young to make such big decisions. (They were all married in their teens. They said that was different.) Friends said that starting out so young would limit my abilities to pursue my goals and dreams in life. I say that’s just one way of looking at it.

I know me. My wife and children complement my drive and ambition. As a married man, I have set loftier goals with the knowledge that my family relies on me and that I have the comfort of relying on them.  The stakes have been much higher due to familial responsibility, and the results have been more meaningful. Had I been out on my own as a twenty-something, I would probably be just now getting up out of my video game chair…or I would be an alcoholic…or dead…seriously.

Another way of looking at it is that my wife and I have grown up together. We have experienced the world side by side. Our life has taken us across the country twice, through terrible trials, and through the best moments life has to offer. We have fought epic battles, cried rivers, and laughed to tears.  We did it together. Yes, we have made some awful mistakes because of  our youthful naivety over the years, but our life has been a monumental adventure and we’re just getting started.

Were there drawbacks to starting a family so soon? Yes. I know I chucked away certain freedoms and ways of life that guys my age who have not “taken the plunge” get to experience. I have learned, though, that there is really no right age to get married and start a family. Some guys know they need to grow out of their twenties (or even thirties) first, because they know their marriage would be a train wreck if they didn’t. Guys like that have my respect. Some still want to find Mrs. Right. My life has worked for me. Mrs. Right found me early, and I have no regrets.

Did you marry young?  Did it work well for you? What made it difficult?  How many of you put off getting married, and what were the factors that made you hold on to being single?

 

Comments

The Beginning
About Jared Tullos

Husband and Father to 3. Doodler, Tinkerer, Stinkerer. Regional Standout in Staying Alive the Goodest.

As a Southern country boy living in the city, I have experienced both the horror of gridlock traffic and the hilarity of seeing a chicken eat a snake.

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Comments

  1. I was married at 23 (despite my mother’s protests), and had my first child at 25. You can NEVER be ready for children, because there is no way to prepare for them. You can only hope to be healthy enough to endure and survive the sleep deprivation.

  2. I was married at 22, just one month after my wife turned 21. Our “necessity” didn’t come until 6 years later, but because of our quick engagement, we were met with the same questions of judgement.
    My wife and I went on our first date the middle of December. Less than two months later, in February, I proposed and we were married in July. It’s now almost thirteen years later.
    There have been some rough patches, but we’ve always been willing to fight for each other. We take our vows seriously, not as words that can be thrown away.

    • It was frustrating, but I guess I should have expected the judgement. My grandmother pulled us aside after we announced it to our family and said, “Do you HAAAVE to get married?” I looked at her and said calmly, “Now, do you really not know me any better than to ask me that?” The look on her face was priceless. Up until the last couple of years we had a pretty open and honest relationship, so it was nice being able to get to the point with her.

  3. AskAGreatDad says:

    I didn’t get married until i was 29, but we were together for over seven years before we actually got married. We wanted to pay off all our bills and save before we, put ourselves into massive amounts of debt. I think you are correct that there is no age one is ready to start a family. You just get your hands dirty and do the best we can, just like our parents before us. Holding off on starting a family was a wise decision. Our savings is what allows me to be a SAHD, and I am so grateful to be in the position I am in now.

  4. James Hudyma says:

    I see two topics here, age to marry and age to have kids. There are pros and cons for both and I think a lot depends on your place in life and maturity.

    I was not ready in my 20s. I married at 30 and had kid at 33 and 36.

    When my kids ask for advice it will be to wait until they have an education and their finances are stable.

    • Definitely two parts to the equation. (Just me trying to be simple on the title, lol). We knew kids were out of the question for at least a couple of years. After that, we just let be whatever would be.

      I would advise my kids to at least know what they are doing with their money. That was a big problem for us. For a while, we were total idiots when it came to personal finance, and I plan to teach my kids how to handle money the right way. (Not part of my upbringing, sadly).

    • Let me say that I too was NOT ready in my 20s either, but I had to get ready quickly.

  5. happiestdaddy says:

    Great post and a topic I think about often from the opposite perspective. I married at 35 and had my first child at 37.

    I wonder if I waited too long.

    Yet, I’m not sure I was selfless enough in my 20’s to have children.

    Looking back, I’m glad I was established in my career, had a financial footing and experienced my 20’s. But there is a serious downside — I will have less time to spend with my kids and grandkids.

    Being an old(er) dad keeps me in shape, though. Although, I think I’ll need a knee replacement in a few years 🙂

  6. Father time says:

    Dad’s can sire at age and we should! I’ve been loaded and dangerous since I was 11 and hope to be (even with a little help from the blue pill) well into my dying days. Men of old sired dozens and dozens making them common ancestors of us all. Respect to the the ancient men!
    Biologically it makes the most sense for women to give birth young. Its a culture vs nature debate.

  7. reth1nk says:

    I will admit my hypocrisy on several fronts with this subject. My wife and i dated right outta high school and then spent almost 8 years apart, experiencing our 20s and forced maturity through tribulations separately only to end up in each other’s paths again. At the same time, one of my best friends, who is the same age as my little sister, met her husband and in a very shortened timeline was getting married, moving across the country with him and on track to have kids. I railed against her decisions and told her she didn’t have her head on right, mean while, my wife and i had started dating and were getting married just a short 6months after having been back in each other’s lives. It took me a hard look inside to realize that i couldn’t judge other’s paths in life, much as i’m sure there were friends who weren’t speaking their thoughts about my actions.
    I work in a school whose students come from a higher than average percentage of parents who have started families later in life after acquiring comfort or status and it did have an effect on my beliefs about when i would be ready to start a family and what i had hoped to have checked off on my “to do list” before then. But i had to reevaluate my priorities and consider would i rather be able to say that “i did this” or “went there” if i couldn’t say that i did it with this person beside me.
    Just two years after starting to date again, and just a few months after i turned 30, we welcomed our new addition to the family. I can honestly say that I now know what everyone means when they say “You can never be ready”, but i will caveat that each day i feel that way and still worry that I may not be doing our kids justice because of the decisions we have made, but i wouldn’t give up the smiles on their faces when i get something right for anything.
    ~nick

    • “I wouldn’t give up the smiles on their faces when i get something right for anything.” I hear you on that one. No matter what hell my wife and I are going through my children will always bring a smile to my face. (and I don’t think any of us ever feel ready or 100% equipped) Also, for me, I feel the same way, that life has just been much better with a partner by my side.

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