Rebecca Teti has opened a conversation on marrying young. She's beautifully articulated my thoughts on the matter, quoting heavily from another favorite author and speaker, Frederica Matthewes-Green. In the interest of full disclosure, I fell in love hard, in high school, and married that boy when I was 21. I'm a big proponent of early marriage for all the reasons Teti has put forth. I think it can work and work very well.
As I rummage through my memory, I find that almost all the high school sweethearts I knew who married are still married. I'm sure someone who went to high school with me will write and correct me, but my early morning recollection definitely points to the successes of these early marriages. The two cases I know who divorced weren't commited at the beginning. Both brides admitted before marrying that they weren't sure this was going to work.
I don't know that I took a deliberately serious attitude towards dating (the way some circles approach formal courtship now), but I do know that there was a lot of grace sprinkled on that high school relationship (incidentally, my first real dating experience and my first real kiss). I distinctly remember talking about marriage with him when I was fifteen. We just knew right from the beginning that there was something special there. That doesn't mean we had a straight path to the altar. We didn't. We went to separate colleges and one of us very deliberately made sure to sow his wild oats. But that grace was sufficient, more than sufficient, and marry we did, just as soon as we could.
We did grow up together. We're still growing up together--it a habit! This year, I've been married half my life--the better half, by far. I know the boy my husband was and I was there, holding his hand, as he became a man. We have history together and sometimes, it's history that gets you through the rough patches. We also had energy and youth and--frankly--hormones on our side in those early days of growing. Now, I think that perhaps the habits of affection step in and take over when energy and youth and hormones fail. We know each other. We know what works and what doesn't. It's not perfect. We still have rough patches, but time has always been on our side.
I know how much I love this man and I'm still as grateful as I was at 15 and 21 that I have a whole lifetime to live that love.