Signing the Register by Edmund Blair Leighton
I can blend in pretty well with society at large as long as I don't voice my opinion on two things: college and marrying young. I've written several times about college not being for everyone, but I've never written about marrying young. Here goes.
"You can't possibly be 'ready' for marriage before the age that most people graduate from college: 22 or 23, and it's much better to wait even longer, to gain maturity and get established in your career," I am frequently lectured.
"Oh, pooh!" I say.
I've said before that my paternal grandmother was 15. She didn't go to school after the eighth grade. And she raised a fine family, all three children extremely intelligent and successful. She and my grandfather, who also did not go to school past the eighth grade, were happily married until parted by death after more than 50 years.
My husband's maternal grandmother married young also, 15 or 16, and raised 10 children. Again, she and Herb's grandfather were married until parted by death.
My mother-in-law married at 17, my mother at 19. I married at 19. All three of us are still married to our first husbands, did not have careers outside the home, and live happy, comfortable middle class lives.
Newly engaged when I arrived at college for my freshman year, I still laugh at the things I was told when I first showed my engagement ring to my sorority sisters. I had just turned 18, and boy were they were horrified! Oh, how they took me to task for my ignorance of how it was supposed to be done. One of them told me that I would regret marrying young, because we would both end up working at McDonald's! I shan't ever forget that one.
Neither of us ended up flipping burgers, even though we married the next year and didn't return to college until five years after that.
Thankfully, my parents were supportive from the very beginning. Although it wasn't an arranged marriage, my dad did his best to make it happen. He had known Herb for several years--bought parts from him at Herb's dad's auto parts store--and he really liked him. I met Herb in my own front yard (and thought he was divinely handsome) when he came to work on my dad's friend's boat, which was moored at our house.
When Herb started working part time as a mechanic at the friend's front-end shop, my dad arranged for me to take my car there after hours and have Herb work on it. He did not arrange a ride home for me while the car was being repaired, and Herb was the only one in the shop. Before he disappeared under my car, he gave me a Marian prayer book to read, the contents of which totally baffled me, as I was not Catholic and only vaguely Christian.
I still marvel that my dad, an electrical engineer, encouraged this relationship and never tried to sway me toward men with college degrees.
When Herb and I got engaged one night after three weeks of dating, I woke my mom to tell her. The next morning she woke me--by covering my face with her wedding veil. I can still vividly recall opening my eyes under it and seeing everything in my room appear softened and dreamlike.
I had not prepared for marriage in any way. I even told Herb (who despite giving me the prayer book was not a practicing Catholic) before our first date that I was not interested in marriage, basically warning him that if he was wife-hunting, he should visit another hunting ground. So we started out without the help of the True Faith, no money, no college degree, and no preparation on my part for keeping house or mothering. Basically, we had nothing going for us except the example of our parents, my charming personality, and his good work ethic.
And we still made it. Not only that, we got money, education, and faith together as husband and wife. We have both been immeasurably blessed by our union.
Here is some good reading on courtship/dating and marriage:
Boniface at Unam Sanctam Catholicam: Courtship and Dating and, courtesy of my beloved sister Beverly, Orson Scott Card's Mormon Times article, Making Ourselves a Perfect Fit in Marriage.