Moving towards marriage - at 20?

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Hi there!

I'm new, though I've been lurking the forums for quite some time. I'm here for some advice.

I'll try to keep this as short as possible.

I'm 20. I grew up in the church & I moved away from home at 17 to attend college in a different town. I've always remained mostly active but went through a period of serious doubt in the church starting about a year ago. It got to the point where I was determined that I was no longer interested in the church as a belief system. I won't go into detail, but there was no bitterness on my end, and no serious sins committed.

Well, a few months ago, I met an LDS man who kind of flipped things upside-down for me. I was NOT looking to date at that time, as I had just gotten out of a serious 2-year relationship. In fact, I had turned into a complete cynic about love, because my last relationship had fizzled out into something very void of passion. Also, I was moving to a different city in a month for an internship over the summer, so I was not looking to start something.

But when I met this guy, we immediately clicked. I guess you could say we started dating, even though both of us were in denial. (In fact, we even talked conversationally about our friends getting married, and I went on and on about how crazy it is to settle down when you're barely in your 20s.) We only had about a month together before I moved away for my internship, but we spent time together just about every day, whether it was studying for finals, cooking food together, or just sitting in the car talking. We fell hard and fast for each other.

I confided my doubts about the church in him, and he was able to ease my troubled mind in a way that no one ever has before. He didn't judge me or think less of me, but taught me gently from the scriptures and encouraged me to pray in ways that, for whatever reason, had eluded my mind before I met him. Consequently, I came to the realization that over the past year I had just been getting lazy, and my testimony is now back on track.

I moved to a city in a different state for the summer. Now we are apart from each other and dating long distance. We video chat every day and I feel very close to him each day. It is hard being apart but I feel the communication is fantastic. I wasn't sure what it would be like, but I actually do feel our relationship has grown and deepened even through long distance. The only issue in our relationship is he wants to talk even more than I have time for, so that's a minor area of conflict sometimes.

Also, a minor detail: I am going to visit him for a weekend in two weeks, and then in August he is planning to visit me & my family in my hometown. After that we will be back in the same town attending the same college.

He is a nearly-23-year-old returned missionary. We love each other and talk about everything with each other, and he has indeed brought up the subject of "settling down". The way he talks about marriage is mature, optimistic, realistic, calming, and uplifting. And surprisingly, when he talks about it, that whole idea of marriage doesn't scare me like it used to. I've never been so excited about sharing a future with someone. It baffles me because I have only known this man for a few months. Also, I'm quite young (though I am often told I'm "mature for my age".) Obviously we would wait for any serious step like engagement for about a year, but is it normal to feel this sure of something this soon?

I have always been the "strong independent woman" type. I am really focused on my education and career. I always figured the marriage and family part would come later when I was ready. But here I am, feeling very strong urges that this man could be the one for me. My future life seems empty until I think of him.

However, I would be lying if I said that no part of me feels like I should "play the field" a little more. I've only had three actual relationships before, and sometimes I wonder if that's been enough to really figure out who I am and what kind of person I'm looking for. I love this man so much, though -- it's not that I have any desire to actually date anyone else, it's just that I feel like I should.

Just to give you a little background on what we are like: He is understanding, fiercely loyal, passionate about life, and he has a great sense of humor. He definitely wears his heart on his sleeve, while I am much more reserved and independent. I am an extremely easygoing, optimistic, low-stress type, and it's very easy for me to let go of negativity and accept people as they are. But I am also a little immature, selfish, and stubborn at times. His weakness lies in weak-ish self-esteem and relying too much on other people's approval. We are both aware of our flaws and work together to improve them.

TL;DR: I always thought young marriage was ridiculous until I met the perfect man. I'm 20 years old and I'm having all kinds of crazy hopes, dreams, and doubts.

So, all that said, I have a few questions:

Am I crazy/ too young to be thinking about settling down already?

Is it possible that a 20 year old has lived enough and dated enough people to truly understand who she is and what kind of person she is looking for?

How long should we wait before taking any serious steps towards engagement or marriage? (There is a lot of passion between us and sexual temptation is high, but we are both strong and haven't had any chastity issues.)

Am I just in the "infatuation" stage? Is it common for people to marry for infatuation and regret it later? I have had two serious relationships before this one, so I feel like I know the difference between infatuation and actual love, but obviously I still have a lot to learn.

What does it take to have a successful marriage? Is it possible to have what it takes at the age of 20?

When did you get married (age/how long dating) and would you do it any differently?

What can I do to come to terms with the fact that God may have put this person in my life at 20 years old for a reason? I want to stop having doubts because of what I feel like I "should" do based on what I'd always expected my plan in life to be.

What can I/we do to prepare for commitment?

& any other advice you might have for my in my present situation.

Sorry that was so long. Thanks so much for your time and advice.

Edited by moth
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Sounds like a normal courtship with normal butterflies to me. I met my husband at 19, he was 24, we were friends for a few months, dated for a few months, and married before we'd known each other a year. Fifteen years later we're very, very happy together.

Study it out in your mind and pray for peace. Let go of your own plans and ask God to show you His plan for you.

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Married at 18 still married with 2 kids over 10 years now, we have had ups and downs but we are happy and still in love. We dated for a little over a year and a 1/2.

I would recommend reading, and the book "His needs Her needs."

They are more for married couples but I would have given so much to have read those early on in my marriage or even before hand. They litterally saved our marriage and made it so much better.

Marriage is work dont let anyone fool you. A lot of people think marriage is easy and shouldnt have any problems. Marriage requires compromise and requires both partners to invest 100% effort, not 50/50 but 100/100. The above resources go into great detail and give great explanations on how you can go about it.

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I married the first girl I seriously dated, less then a year after I got home from my mission at 22 (and she is younger). I had my doubts about being ready but I also received an confirmation from God that she was the one. (she did as well about me)

We have 4 kids and have been married 17 years now.

I will not say that it been without struggles, because that is the nature of such a relationship. But we've been committed to struggle 'with' each other and not 'against' each other, and that is a big part in what it takes to make it work

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Thanks everyone. I am very aware that marriage is work -- in fact, I might be a little too cynical about how hard it will be. It's always been a struggle of mine. I've never felt capable or even real desire about the idea of maintaining a marriage. But my relationship with my current boyfriend has comforted me a lot because of how happy, engaging, and fulfilling the relationship is. It makes me want to work hard to protect what we have.

Do you want him or do you want what he talks about?

That is always an important question to ask. I'm definitely not enamored with the "idea" of what we have, but rather with him as a person. I wasn't even looking to date when I met him, and to be honest, I was avoiding serious courtship like the plague. But he is just a really special guy, unlike anyone I've ever met, and I don't want to let him go. So yeah, I would say that I definitely want him.

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No such thing. Take off the rose-colored glasses. Make sure that he's the perfect man for you, but don't be delusional about him being perfect.

Of course I'm aware he's not perfect. In my post, I did include a paragraph about what we are both like, and I did talk about some of his flaws. I just meant I feel like he's the perfect person to share my life with. That's all.

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I married just shy of turning 18, in fact, it was only 2 weeks since my birthday and I was Mrs. So-and-so. While you'll always find people with stories that "workout", I think the odds of very young marriages where both spouses are teens or at least one is and the other barely 21, don't tend to workout long term statistically. I don't have any graphs that can prove this but I doubt it'd be hard to pull up. I'm in my second marriage now, very happy and it's the best thing that ever happened to me. I'd recommend to anyone that they venture out into the world, travel and meet/date many different kinds of people (of course within your expectations). It's a wise thing to learn more about who YOU are, too.

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I was married at 21. We dated for three months and were married about six months after we started dating seriously. I knew very early on that this relationship was different. It's worked out well for us and we've been married for twelve years now.

I have never regretted getting married young but we also both spent the first years of our marriage working on our college degrees and I worked for several years in a professional type career before we had children. This is just my experience, but I think I would have regretted getting married so young if we had just started having children right away. I was 26 when we finally had our first child and it was perfect.

Based on your past I'd also take into consideration if your marriage would survive if your doubts in the church returned.

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I firmly believe that it is insane to marry someone you've known less than a year. That's hypocritical of me (I married my wife after knowing her six months), but I still believe it. In fact, when people ask me how long I knew my wife before I married her, I always answer, "Not nearly long enough."

Fortunately for us, it has worked out well. But I think we would have done better if we had waited another six months before getting married.

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How long should we wait before taking any serious steps towards engagement or marriage? (There is a lot of passion between us and sexual temptation is high, but we are both strong and haven't had any chastity issues.)

Even though is completely natural that you feel this attraction, I hope you don't decide to marry mainly because of this sexual tension between you two.

You stated that it's not like you have the desire to date anyone else yet you feel you should. Then perhaps that's what you should do.

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Do you want him or do you want what he talks about?

Oooh, nice. OP, you have to want/love/like the guy he is now. I went through a lot of turmoil trying to make my late husband into what I wanted and ignoring the way he was - which was mostly fine, if I had just learned to live with it and not make arguments all the time because things weren't like I read in the magazines.

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