The mother of one of my son’s friends recently asked what my son was up to these days. Her daughter and my son were in the same high school crowd. Both have recently graduated from college, but have since gone their separate ways.
“Tom just got married,” I told her.
“At 22? He’s way too young,” she scoffed. “That’ll never last.”
Only my excellent manners prevented me from telling her just how rude I thought this remark was.
She took my silence for encouragement.
“Fifty percent of marriages end in divorce,” she exclaimed, almost gleefully.
“Actually, the odds are even worse than that,” I told her. “I read that just 15 percent of marriages entered into by people under the age of 25 endure. But Tom and Amy are remarkable people. They can beat those odds .”
She snickered. “If you say so.“
“So what’s your daughter up to?, I asked.
This daughter was living with her parents, watching reality TV, baking cookies, and trying to figure out what to do with her life.
[More on advice for young adult and college women here.]
And this mom was disparaging my kid’s life choices? Tom is independent, happy, and in love. He and his wife have good jobs, even in this crazy economy.
Had they asked me, I probably would have advised them to wait a few years before getting hitched. But my son didn’t ask me. He told me, expecting me to whoop with joy and wish them the best. And I did.
[More on advice for young adult and college men here.]
You get a wide range of responses when you tell folks that your 22-year-old son is getting married. Some of them are unwelcome.
“Is she pregnant?“ more than one person asked.
Again, having been taught to be polite, I refrained from answering, “And exactly what makes you think that’s any of your bleeping business?”
My favorite answers, of course, were from all the folks who told me they’d married young and enjoy wonderful, long-lasting unions. Happily, there are more of them than I’d have thought.“
As long as neither of them expects the other one to stay exactly the same,“ a woman approaching her own 50th wedding anniversary told me, “they’ll be just fine.“
“They’ll grow together,” one woman assured me.
Then there are the clowns.
“They’ll have plenty of time to get married a couple more times,” joked one old codger.
“Married already?” one of Tom’s old teachers said. “That kid always was an overachiever.”
Here’s a tip: If you have doubts, please keep them to yourself. If you can’t bring yourself to be supportive, then a simple “I wish them the best!” will do. I don’t need to hear that getting married at 22 was the biggest mistake you ever made. Even if it’s true. (Especially if it’s true.)
I waited until I was 34 to get married, and I still married Mr. Wrong. Had I married the guy I was crazy about when I was 22, would we still be together? Would we be happy? Who knows?
Am I sorry I waited to marry? How could I be? If I’d done anything else, I wouldn’t have my son.
There’s no way to know for certain how anyone’s marriage will turn out. I raised my son to make good choices, and so far he has. The kids are in love. Why not get married? Somebody has to live happily ever after. Why not my son and his bride?
Note: I wrote this five years ago and the kids are still in love and happily married.