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At the age of 12, I decided not to date until I got to college. Preferably until I graduated.

I didn’t have time for boys.

Dating was for marriage, I had a plan, and it didn’t include love.

I got married at 18.

After graduating high school in May, I said “I do” in August. Yes, this means I wore an engagement ring to school the last 6 months of my senior year. My Literature teacher asked me if I knew the divorce rate was 50%. Students asked if I was pregnant. My friends asked what my parents thought. The school newspaper did a write up. This introvert got a lot more attention than she bargained for.

But I never wavered. My 18-year old heart and mind were made up. I didn’t believe we’d make it with the sheer force of love. I was more mature than that.

I believed we’d make it because we loved each other, we believed marriage was a sacred life commitment, and we went into marriage saying divorce was never an option. We knew marriage wasn’t all rainbows and fairy tales. We expected hard times. We went into it with eyes as open as 18 and 20-year olds can possibly have them.

But I cannot credit our collective 38 years of wisdom for our strong marriage 13 years later.

Because at the age of 18, I had no conceivable idea how much we’d change. Sure, I knew that as Christians we were supposed to continually change, mature, and become more Christlike.

But I didn’t know that my husband had no idea what his personality was and when, a few years into our marriage he came into himself, he’d be basically unrecognizable (in a good way).

I didn’t know that having children (and we waited 7 years) would completely gut me and make me question everything I believed about life, myself, and others.

I didn’t know that the faith we grew up believing would be questioned, wrestled with, and transformed into something new and hard and beautiful. I didn’t know that 13 years later we’d cringe at the thought of being married to who we were before.

When people discover how young we wed, they want to know my thoughts now. Do I regret it? Would I do it differently? What do I tell other people who want to get married young?

No, I don’t regret it.

And I can’t fathom doing it differently.

But I wouldn’t generally recommend it (nor would I outright say it’s a bad idea).

Because when you are that young you have a lot of changing to do. A lot.

And I believe it’s purely by the grace of God that Dan and I changed at similar rates and in similar ways.

And today, 13 years later, I am so incredibly thankful for that. Because I can’t imagine the last 13 years without my best friend at my side.

Happy anniversary babe! I love you!

How have you and your spouse changed since you got married?