By Maggie Reimherr
Derek and I are from the South. It seems like as much as fried chicken, sweet tea, SEC football, and going to church on Sunday are Southern traditions, so is getting married young.
I celebrated the first engagement of a friend during the first week of senior year of college. In my sorority, we had multiple “candle-lightings.” Sorority girls, y’all know what I’m talking about. But for everyone else, basically, you light a candle, pass it around the room, and a girl who just got engaged reveals her new relationship status. So you’ve got 21 year olds getting engaged, and it’s perfectly normal.
The first wave of engagements comes in the last year or two of college. The couples get married sometime during the summer or fall after graduation - or in some people’s case, they get married during college. Derek and I rode in on the second wave, getting engaged sometime in the first few years after college.
In the South, we fall squarely into what’s considered “appropriate marrying age.” In the North, not so much.
When we moved to Boston, we were bewildered by social practices of people our age. Wait, you’re 25, untethered, and seem to just drink cocktails and go to brunch a lot? Cool, but where my married couples at?
As it turns out, the mid-twenties and married people we’ve found are church people. That’s cool, because we’re church people, too. In general, there aren’t a lot of church people up here so far away from the Bible belt.
I think part of the reason people marry young in the South has a lot to do with the cultural pervasiveness of Christianity. Frankly, church-going Southerners are taught to save ourselves for marriage (...or at least give it the old college try, for goodness’ sake). So for guilt-free intercourse… put a ring on it.** Jokes aside, I'm definitely willing to wager that the church crowd is the trendsetting group on getting married young, and others follow suit.
**I’m not trivializing waiting for marriage. We’re Christians. I don’t want to have a lengthy discussion about faith and sex, because people who are wiser than me have written and spoken all about it. Google it. Don’t @ me.
But beyond that, I think there’s a little more to it. Southerners might be… more serious about relationships? More ready to grow up? I see these qualities in my married, Southern friends.
So here’s the thing about me and Derek living in the North: people look down on us for being young marrieds. We’re not offended because culturally, it’s different up here. And with most people our age being the single, bar-hopping, city explorer types, we’ve actually adjusted our outlook on life in our twenties.
We’ve seen Southern friends buy houses and start thinking about babies. Meeting people our age in Boston has made us realize that we are 100% not there yet. And that’s okay! We may be married, but at this point in our lives, at 24 and 25, we’re more inclined toward bottomless brunches, brewery hopping, and tropical vacations than we are toward home ownership and creating offspring. We want to spend our money on adventures. We’re on a 5-, 6-, maybe 7- year plan when it comes to all that other stuff.
We’re so proud of our Southern friends who are at a place in their lives where they can buy houses and have babies. We love hanging out at your pretty - and GIGANTIC compared to our 850 square foot apartment - homes. We will join you someday. We will also babysit when you procreate.
For now, we’re working on a happy medium between being wild twenty-somethings and responsible humans. We’re paying off our student loans and saving to buy another car. But we’re also crunching the budget numbers to figure out how we can #brunchsohard, take a couple of big vacations every year, and move to a cool apartment in a cool neighborhood. We’re acting our age in both the Southern way and the city way. That’s just how we like it.