When To Say "I Do"
Choosing to commit to someone in marriage is always a loaded and multifaceted decision. However, in a culture that increasingly rejects the idea of holy matrimony, how do those of us in relationships make the decision to enter into the covenant of marriage? With God at the centre, of course. The beautiful Emma is back, and this time she's here to tell us about how her and her husband Tim found themselves walking down the aisle at 20 and 21.
About three times a week, someone will exclaim to me, ‘you’re twenty two and you’re married? But you’re so young!’
Questions along these lines have been frequent for the last year or so since I got engaged, along with well-meaning enquiries about how we would support ourselves once we were married, where we would live and the loaded question, ‘don’t you want to experience life before you settle down?’
Tim proposed when he was nineteen and we got married last year when he was twenty and I was twenty one. I had finished my undergrad degree a few months earlier and he had only just finished the first year of his. Being at uni or being newly graduated is stressful enough, but to throw marriage on top of that? We must be crazy!
It wasn’t that long ago that no one would have batted an eyelid at a twenty year old getting married, but we are not normal by the standards of today’s society. We are an anomaly. Why did I not wait until I had a job? Why on earth didn’t we wait until Tim had finished university? Are we mad?? But in my hometown, if I told someone I was pregnant they wouldn’t bat an eyelid, so why is it so controversial for me to be married at twenty two? The answer is this: because I have chosen to be committed to something serious at a young age. There are many people that will doubt whether our marriage will last and they are not unfounded in those thoughts – my generation has developed a reputation for jumping in to things too quickly and not sticking at them.
But there is something unusual about our marriage because there are not just two people in it – God is at the centre.
It would have been very easy to move in with Tim after I finished university and wait until he finished his degree to get married, but we believe that God reserved that intimacy for married couples. We didn’t have sex before we were married because we believe that God created sex for marriage. We did not enter into marriage lightly; we both asked God whether it was something He wanted for us, we spoke to our families, sought pre-marital counselling with another couple who have an awesome marriage, and made sure we were aware of the difficulties we may face in getting married young. But our faith in God is our biggest and strongest uniting factor – it is because we discovered that we are better equipped to serve God together than we are apart that we decided to get married.
Yes, we are both very young, and we may miss out on some aspects of our youth and we still have a lot of growing up to do! But we have chosen to do life together, and that means growing up together and travelling together and struggling together and chasing our dreams together and learning how to worship God together. I believe that it will make us stronger in our faith.
None of this is to say that getting married at twenty two is better or greater than getting married at thirty two or seventy two. God rejoices when two people come together to worship him, whatever their age. It just so happens that God blessed me with a partnership early on in my life. And just because we’re married doesn’t mean we’ve lost our youth – where would the fun be if you had to be serious when you’re married?
Does God tell you to get married?
‘God is writing my love story.’
I had this little quote pinned up on my wall while I was at university – I suppose it was a little reminder to me to trust in all that God had planned when Tim and I were dating and that if it was meant to be it would all work out.
But did God plan a love story for me? Did God tell me to date Tim? Did He tell me that I would marry him one day?
The honest truth: I don’t think He did. God can be pretty clear in his intentions and I’m sure that with some people He could lean down and whisper ‘that’s The One’. But that just wasn’t how it happened for me. I don’t think He was in anyway clear about whether He wanted Tim and I to date or marry. To be frank, I just don’t believe God plays matchmaker like that.
To quote a great talk I heard at a wedding, ‘you do not fall in love - love is a choice’. And we know that God is the same – He is not a dictator; we must chose to love Him and so in the same way, we must chose to love other people.
A little quote from ‘The Problem With Dating’says, ‘the key to succeeding in a relationship is not finding the right person, it’s learning to love the person you found.’ It might not be true that God told me to love Tim, but God placed him in my life at exactly the right time. Whether we are perfectly matched is up for debate, but I chose to love all of Tim and not just the parts that I like, just as God loves me, all of me, including my failings and flaws.
Emma lives and works in the fabulous city of Leeds with her husband, Tim. She has a passion for encouraging those who are low in spirit and loves to hear stories of God's perfect timing. Her favourite things include a good latte, travelling, eating dessert for breakfast, dim sum and making people happy with food.