Not the Story I Expected, But I Wouldn’t Trade It for Anything

This Sunday, my husband and I will celebrate our 12th anniversary.

I’m 33–I don’t feel old enough to have been married 12 years! But I was just 21, and he was 22. It’s easy to rack up some serious mileage by your 30s when you marry that young.

I never intended to get married that early. In high school and early college, my friends and I had declared 26 to be the perfect age to marry: old enough to explore the world on your own for a bit, young enough to enjoy a few years of coupledom before starting a family.

But I met the man who would become my husband in high school. It was not love at first sight. But he was a perfect kind of friend, the kind I’d never had before. Even after we started dating, 17-year old me wouldn’t have believed it if you’d told her she’d end up marrying that boy. But after a few years I couldn’t imagine living without him.

We had a few spectacular breakups along the way, but by the end of college, we were sure and it was time. Neither of us expected or even wanted to marry that young, but in the wise words of Harry Burns, “when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”

But since we married early, we’re almost always the outliers in our circles of friends and groups we’re involved in. We’re always skewing the demographics. We were the first to get married, then the first to have kids. When I had my first baby at 24, all my new “mom friends” were 5 years older than me. And my kids are nearly too old to play with my old friends’ kids, because many of those friends did follow my old plan: they got married at 26 and started having babies at 29.

I wouldn’t trade getting married at 21 for anything. I feel like in many ways we’ve grown up together, and I love that. Other people have different stories (and oh, how I’d love to hear them!), but today I’m remembering my own.

Today, I’m grateful for my man–and the path that’s brought us to our 12th anniversary.

For more anniversary musings, visit this post from the archives: On My Anniversary: My Best Advice for a Happy Marriage.

How has real life surprised you?


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  1. I got married at not-quite-20! THAT wasn’t in the plan…but it was in God’s. 🙂 I love your story. We got married for a lot of the same reasons: Couldn’t imagine spending life without each other, and wanted to do the rest of our “growing-up” together. Plus this way we get lots of years with just the two of us before we start having kids…although I’m ready to be a mama as soon as we finish school in two years. 🙂

    Jami over at Young Wife’s Guide has been sharing stories of women who married young…I bet she’d love to feature you if you would like! ( It’s been fun reading stories of other young wives. 🙂

    Loved reading yours!

  2. Have you read my blog today? Great minds. 🙂 I was 18 when we got married on the EXACT SAME DAY AS YOU, so we’re also celebrating 12 years this Sunday. I can’t imagine my life with anyone else, and I can’t imagine what my life would have been like if I had gone with MY plan. So glad I followed God instead. Blessings to you guys and HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!

    • Anne says:

      Carrie, I think we’d figured that out before but then I completely forgot–Happy 12th anniversary to you two!

  3. DFrazzled says:

    I was married at age 19 and very little in the last 11 years has gone as I expected it would. I love my life and wouldn’t trade it either, but I have a lot of the same issues as you, with the oldest kids on the block, or being the youngest parent at PTO.

    It’s not what I expected, but it is good, and we are blessed.

    Happy Anniversary, Anne & her man!

  4. We got married at 22… and absolutely *nothing* has gone according to plan since then. (Sound like “man plans, God laughs”?) And I hear ya, on skewing the demographics. Just about all our friends have kids already. We have none, and probably won’t for a few more years. So when we do – who knows who they’ll play with!

    Happy 12th Anniversary!! Hope you guys have a fabulous weekend!! 🙂

  5. Jennifer Haddow says:

    Happy anniversary! I had a “perfect plan” for my life, too, similar to yours, but I was late instead of early – I didn’t get married until I was 32! I’m so glad our plans didn’t work out; otherwise our kids wouldn’t have gotten to be friends.

    Thanks for the reminder that our lives are sometimes better “unplanned”.

  6. Erin says:

    Congratulations on 12 years! Thats fantastic!

    I got married at 21, my husband was 24 and its been wonderful. We don’t have kids yet, I have lots of friends that have beat me to that. It is interesting though, I am the youngest of my group of friends and have been married the longest.

  7. Happy Anniversary! We just celebrated our 12th last month, and I can totally relate to being one of the first of my friends to get married. I was the same age as you, although my hubby is 4 years older.

    I never dated in high school and always said I would wait at least until I graduated college to get married. But God had other plans, for which I’m so grateful! I met my hubby just before I turned 19. We started dating about 6 months later, and the rest is history! And yes, I got married between my junior and senior years of college. But I still graduated!

    It’s neat to look back and see the direction our lives have taken together!

  8. Suzette @ jambalaya says:

    Happy Anniversary!!

    It’s so awesome to experience life with your best friend! After three years of marriage I’m still tickled that we get to sleep in the same bed! It’s like a sleepover all the time…ok there are rough times and sick days and nights that last seemingly forever. Overall though, I agree, it might not be what I had planned but I love every minute of it!

  9. At twenty-seven with a one-year-old, I definitely sympathize with being a social outlier. Very few of our college friends are married and even fewer have kids. I have plenty of “mom friends,” but they’re mostly parents of my high school students who may or may not happen to have younger kids. Any suggestions? Did you find a place you fit?

    • Suzette @ jambalaya says:

      I’m totally the WAY younger mom (24 with a 17 month old and 35 weeks pregnant!) looking for a place to fit in with the older – looking forward to hearing replies to this comment!

      • Anne says:

        Alison and Suzette, this topic could be a whole other post!

        I will say that it helped me a ton when I finally realized that the only person who cared about the age gap was … me. I was so self-conscious about being a young 25 when all my mom friends were 30, but there was absolutely no reason for me to feel this way.

        Also, it was hard for me to get out and meet a lot of people when my first baby was small. When he was tiny, I made a small circle of new mom friends (through church and a neighbor) and we hung out a lot, because we were all headed to the park at the same time, and then home for nap time.

        I’m surprised now at how many of my friends I’ve met through my kids. They make their friends at preschool and in their activities–and sometimes I find that I really like those kids’ moms as well! That started when my first was 2.

        Let me know if you’d be interested in a post on this topic!

        • Suzette @ jambalaya says:


          That’s so exciting and refreshing to hear! I would LOVE to read a post on this subject! There are a few couples we are making relationships with…but one lives a little over an hour away and the other is 30 or 45 minutes away. Maybe I’m lazy but it’s terribly hard to visit with them because of the distance and they already have their own established “groups.”

          So, yes, I would greatly appreciate a covering of this topic – especially since I’m about to have another baby bee-boping around here and have GOT to find some sort of community in this “cliquish” town. 🙂

  10. HopefulLeigh says:

    Happy anniversary, friend! I love that you referenced When Harry Met Sally, one of my favorites. Thanks for linking to your TIHWM post, too! I was wondering why it was getting so much traffic today. 🙂

  11. Megan says:

    Happy Anniversary! LOVE reading your story, and certainly appear as beautiful and happy now as you did then!

    Agree that you could devote a whole post to the irony of age vs. experience! It’s nice to know that we’re not the only outliers out there 🙂 Though we’re only coming up on the 5 year mark, getting married at 23 and having a honeymoon baby (and two more shortly thereafter) definitely makes me stand out! We just moved across the country, and though I’m blessed to have made some great new friends in the land of rich white suburbia, I’m by far the youngest gal as well as the one with the most kids in my little group. It’s a strange feeling sometimes!

  12. Sarah Beals says:

    Happy Anniversary! I was married at 19 and had our first child at 21. 🙂 I feel as though I grew up with my best friend as well. Peter is older than me but he always jokes that we waited too long to get married. 🙂

  13. Happy Anniversary! I’m a new reader, and I just loved this post. My hubs and I are in the same boat: married young, kids young. Now all of our friends are older, and our younger friends are still footloose and fancy free 🙂 I just hope one day that when our younger friends settle down that we can offer them advice and encouragement if they need (or want!) it 🙂


  14. Jennifer says:

    Happy Anniversary! Your story is a lot like my own. My husband and I met at 17, we were each others first major relationship, and first ‘real’ kiss. We married at 22, had our first child at 25, bought a house at 27, had second baby at 28. And now we are 30 with 8 years of ups, downs and many adventures in marriage. Never thought about giving up or starting over or changing anything.
    I am also one of the youngest moms from my daughters preK class. Its very awkward atimes. Most of them are so business minded and unfriendly. I work 3 days a week as a massage therapist which puts me in a different group as well. I don’t fit in and I don’t care, I will just be 43 when I watch my daughter graduate high school. So :p
    I really enjoy your blog and I how I can relate to so much of it. Thank you for your time and effort you put into your blog. I look forward to many more great posts.

    • Anne says:

      Jennifer, thanks so much for the kind words.

      When I was still in shock about being pregnant at 23 with our first, my nurse told me how awesome it would be to watch my baby graduate high school at age 42. (But then we went and had three more kids–I’ll be a bit older when that last baby graduates!)

  15. Hannah May says:

    Happy anniversary from a lurker… *sheepish grin* I just had to comment because I’m definitely going to be in the same place you are now…my husband and I are celebrating our first anniversary this weekend. He was 22 when we married, and I just a month over 18. I’m due to have our first baby in six weeks…at age 19. It’s definitely a very strange feeling, looking around at the friends I grew up with and hearing all of their college plans for the next four years, as I stand there with a ring on my finger and a hand on my baby bump. I’ve skipped an entire stage of most people’s lives.
    So many of your commenters have agreed that life turned in completely different directions than they had planned for, and I’m right at the point where I’m realizing that the future I’m envisioning will probably be nothing like the one that’s actually ours. So thank you very much–it’s reassuring to me to hear thoughts from the other side of the bridge as I stand here watching it stretch across. *Cue Bob Marley* “Everything’s gonna be all right…everything’s gonna be all right…”

    God bless your next twelve years! (Well, the rest of them too…)

    • Anne says:

      Hannah May, thanks for saying hello! And you’re right (or maybe I should say Marley is): Everything’s gonna be all right–even if it’s not looking at all like you thought it would!

      I’m wishing you all the best for you and your soon-to-arrive new one.

      And happy 1st anniversary to you!

  16. Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Coupons says:

    I love this post! Mostly because I’m 23 and don’t want to get married until I’m almost 30…I want to be a traveling nurse first. 🙂

  17. Lisa~ says:

    This is so sweet. I stopped to comment because we had our anniversary last weekend also. We were 21 when we got married and I had our first baby at 25. Very similar. Except we just had our 26th anniversary and that baby is now 22 years old.

    I thought it was so funny that nurse saying you would watch him graduate when you were 42. I guess that true but for me I was still having babies at 42 (9 kids total) so life just kept on chugging along.

    I love that we built our life together when we were young and wouldn’t have it any other way. I think it gave our marriage a good foundation and we are still crazy, madly in love after 26 years.

    Congratulations! Lisa~

    • Anne says:

      Happy anniversary, Lisa! Congrats on 26 years!

      And I get what you mean–we have 4 kids now, so it’ll just be my firstborn who graduates when I’m 42 🙂

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