By Jacquelyn Kellar | Broadcast Editor
We all know the drill. The Facebook status changes, the initial photos go up, and an entire album follows shortly after. Photos of girls clutching at their friend’s hand with the sparkly new gem, all posted with a clever hashtag, invade your Instagram accounts, and sparking excitement (and even just a bit of jealousy). It’s the time in our lives when engagement after engagement pops up, seemingly every weekend. There is always an outpouring of joy for each new couple, but for some onlookers, there can be an element of morbid curiosity: the dating pool is still deep, and there’s obviously plenty of time left for kids what’s the rush? Why now?
I am a junior at Baylor, and almost a year ago, I got engaged to the love of my life. We will not be getting married until summer 2018. Although the wait is long, I know it will be worth it. However, despite the “Ring-by-Spring” culture at Baylor and the sound of my squealing girlfriends when they found out, I am not oblivious to the reservations people have about being engaged so young.
Since I am mistaken for a teenager on almost a daily basis, there is no shortage of commentary on my age when people find out I’m engaged. Some are harmless, but others are bitingly critical. An overwhelming number of them are incredibly positive and congratulatory, but I know questions are raised in secret. Our eagerness in committing our lives to each other means our engagement will be lengthy, but I don’t regret our decision for a minute, and here’s why:
I am getting a degree and a job before I am married. My fiance will be going back to school again after we are married, and I would like to have an education and job so that we can live comfortably together. In fact, as excited as I am to be married, I wouldn’t want to get married any sooner than we are. I don’t want to begin married life scrambling and stressed. We are both graduating in the winter, and that gives us six months to plan a wedding without the business of classes, as well as get our ducks in a row before diving in and beginning our adult lives together.
We are both very independent people. Being engaged in college doesn’t mean that we’ve lost our freedom. Tying the knot doesn’t mean being tied down. Even though there’s nothing I enjoy more than spending time together, there are other things we love to do both together and separately. We both have jobs, friends and lives we participate in wholeheartedly, but we happily return to each other when it’s all said and done.
Yes, we do know each other very well. Some people wonder if this was a rushed decision, but I believe it was a long time in the making. We dated for a full year before the proposal and will be dating for much longer than that before we are married. If I didn’t know by now if I wanted to spend my life with him, I wouldn’t have said yes. We knew within weeks of meeting each other and spent the rest of that year becoming more and more positive of our initial intuitions.
The average age of marriage in 2015 was between 27 and 29, much older than it was 50 years ago, at ages 20 to 22. This shift in the culture of marriage means that the divorce rate for 22-year-olds is much higher than for those who are 28. I am by no means recommending that everyone be on the lookout for a spouse by graduation because relationships can fail when tested by the various stresses that come immediately after graduating college and beginning adulthood. But if you do happen to find one and are excited to spend life together before the age of 30, it doesn’t make you dependent, irresponsible or rash.
The message here is that it doesn’t matter how young or old you are when you choose to get married. Making a promise to love someone for the rest of your life is to be celebrated and cherished whether you’re 20 years old or 60.
Jacquelyn is a Junior Journalism major from Missouri City, TX.